The National Zoological Park in Washington DC is part of the Smithsonian. It is an amazing maze of natural habitats and buildings housing hundreds of animals. It is a fantastic “free” day in DC with the kids. Why do I say “free”. Well like all of the Smithsonian buildings there is no entrance fee BUT if you drive you will most likely have to pay for parking. Metro does have day passes and can be much less. Then there is lunch. You may pack in a lunch but on the day we went packing lunches PLUS rain gear, snacks, and refillable water bottles seemed like a bit much for me to carry. If you plan ahead you can control the cost and have a fantastic day out with the family.
We had a late start and found parking in the last lot at the bottom of the hill. This did mean we worked our way up the hill and had gravity helping us at then end of the day make our way to the car. We wound our way from the ‘farm’ with alpacas, cows, pigs, goats, and donkeys to the Amazon jungle. Unfortunately part of the building was closed for cleaning so we only got to see the first few rooms with tanks of fish, sting rays, snakes, and frogs. The kids loved it. Then we went to the other side of the building where they have their public lab/educational area. There were more tanks of colorful frogs along with interactive stations to watch movies, touch bones, research books, view bugs in microscopes and much more. The kids loved checking out the bugs under the microscopes.
Some how in the 7 hours we were there we managed to visit the farm, Amazon jungle, wolves, beavers, big cats, reptile house, great ape house, the elephant house, cheetahs, backyard, the panda house and so much more. We were very lucky we got to the panda house as it was closing and they let us and another family in. The kids were thrilled to have their 7 minutes with those beautiful creatures. Their other high light was getting to see the baby girl gorilla. She was a cuttie. Even with all we saw there is so much more to see. The kids wanted to go back the next day but we’ll have to plan a return trip on another day.