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Parking at the Smithsonian National Zoo can definitely be a pain so be prepared! There are several parking lots surrounding the zoo. $22 for a parking spot. Definitely on the steep side, but it is Washington D.C and proceeds do go to the care of the animals. However, if your trip to the Smithsonian National Zoo is during peek season, the lots fill up pretty fast. You might end up on a hunt for a meter parking spot outside the zoo if your trip isn’t an early one.
2. Hit Up The Zoo EARLY
We have had the pleasure of visiting National Zoo several times over the years and at all different times during the day. My advice is to go early! Not only will you beat the crowds, you will find that killer parking spot, beat the heat AND see more animals. They say the animals are most active earlier in the day and in our experience they really are!!! Nothing worse than an upset kiddo due to their favorite animal not being out and about.
3. Bring Your Own Snacks & Drinks
If you’re on a budget, I highly recommend packing your own snacks and drinks to save a little cash. You are permitted to bring your own, so take advantage. It will cost you $3 for a soda/bottle of water out of the Smithsonian National Zoo vending machines. There are also several places to dine throughout the National Zoo, but again, you will be paying D.C Zoo prices for that meal, so toss a few munchies and bottles of water in a backpack and save yourself boatloads of cash.
4. Wear Comfy Shoes & Clothing
Visiting the Smithsonian National Zoo involves a lot of walking. You should dress appropriately for the weather AND wear comfortable shoes. I am the sundress and sandal queen and I rock a pair of gym shoes and comfy clothes when visiting the Smithsonian National Zoo.
5. Strollers/Wagons Are Your Bestie
Just because your kid is 5 years old and walks like a champ, do not go strollerless unless you do not have a choice. My child is in the 99 percentile for height and we still rent a stroller when visiting the Smithsonian National Zoo. There is A LOT of walking. Your kid is going to want to see EVERY SINGLE ANIMAL. Save yourself the headache of a pokey child and bring that stroller or rent one for $9 for the day. You will cover more ground at a faster pace. You wont feel out of place either with a giant in a stroller since everyone does it!
6. Stroller Rentals
Since this is actually a topic I googled many years ago myself, I figured I would mention this piece of info. Yes, you will find both single and double stroller rentals at the Smithsonian National Zoo. $9 for a single. $12 for a double for non-zoo members.
7. No Admission Charge
One of the best things about the Smithsonian National Zoo is that there is NO ADMISSION CHARGE. That's right! It's FREE!!! You won’t even see a ticket booth. Just walk in and enjoy something free for once!
8. Can’t Miss Exhibits
One word: PANDAS!!!!
The National Zoo was the first U.S. zoo to have giant pandas, starting in 1972. The zoo is currently home to three pandas, which can usually be found in either their outdoor or indoor habitats. The Pandas are definitely the IT exhibit, so expect crowds and lines at the panda habitat, especially during the middle of the day. If you're after that killer panda photo, you're going to have to wait your turn. I promise it is worth it though!
9. How Many Hours To See The Zoo?
I would recommend 2-3 hours to see the whole Smithsonian National Zoo. The National Zoo is pretty spread out and there are many animals to see. Throughout the National Zoo, you will find many educational hands-on activities – mostly geared toward children. There is also a carousel. You can cover it all in a few hours.
10. Where does the money go that I spend at the Zoo?
Every dime you spend during your day at the Zoo—from parking and food to gifts—supports the Zoo’s education outreach, research and conservation efforts. It sucks paying for things, but at the same time you can feel good about that purchase knowing you are supporting animal research. That $22 parking fee you were grumpy about doesn’t sound that bad now does it ;-)
11. Address For The GPS
3001 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington DC, DC 20008
12. Website For More Info
Have you been to the National Zoo?
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