Akron Zoo

8 Best Zoos in Ohio to Visit This Year

Whether you want to engage with an exotic snake, feed a giraffe, or marvel at a polar bear, you can experience it all at these best zoos in Ohio.

You might be surprised to learn that the state of Ohio is home to several zoos that are not just highly awarded in the United States but recognized around the world. These facilities draw millions of visitors every year, not just from Ohio but from all over North America. 

And it’s no wonder when many of these Ohio zoos house thousands — or even tens of thousands — of animals as part of their conservation efforts. You can meet exotic animals and creatures of all kinds, from Amur tigers to Cincinnati’s famous Fiona the baby hippo. 

lights before christmas at the toledo zoo
Lights Before Christmas – Toledo Zoo | photo via @klip_pics

Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

3400 Vine St, Cincinnati, OH 45220

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens aren’t just one of the top wildlife exhibits in Ohio — it might be one of the best in the country! The grounds cover 75 acres, where visitors can explore 3,000 plant species in the gardens and 2,000 animals. 

The zoo features a huge variety of exhibits, including its reptile house, which has been granted National Historical Landmark status. Other exhibits include the Africa habitat, Penguin Point, Cat Canyon, Jungle Trail, Hippo Cove, and many more. Hippo Cove is the home of Fiona, the first Nile hippo to be born here in three-quarters of a century. 

In addition to the exhibits, the zoo also has a carousel, outdoor train ride, and fun obstacle course that kids of all ages will enjoy.

Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden - Cincinnati, Ohio - Ohio Zoos
Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden | photo via @michelewolfgirl1021

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium 

4850 W Powell Rd, Powell, OH 43065

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium has been around for almost an entire century, but it was under its direction from Jack Hanna that it turned into something great. These days it is widely known as one of the top zoos in the country. Covering more than 580 acres, the facilities house 800 animal species for a total of more than 10,000 animals. 

Throughout the year, visitors can enjoy special talks by zookeepers to learn more about some of the animal species in the zoo. Otherwise, they can simply walk and enjoy observing the amazing habitats and fascinating wildlife. 

It might well take you a whole day to see everything there is to see. You can also feed giraffes from a special observation deck or feed and interact with lorikeets in the lorikeet gardens. In the aquarium, professional divers do presentations and play with the fish.

Bonus: Don’t miss The Wilds (in Cumberland, OH) where you can board an open-air safari tour that lets you observe rhinos, giraffes, and many other rare and endangered animals roaming in open-range, natural settings.

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium - Things to do in Dublin, Spring in Central Ohio
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium | photo via @attorney_rmb

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo 

3900 Wildlife Way, Cleveland, Ohio 44109

The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is a 183-acre facility located in the heart of Cleveland, Ohio. It draws millions of visitors to Northeast Ohio every year to observe and interact with its many animal species!

The zoo is divided into distinct sections, each featuring the wild animals that are native to that biome or part of the globe: African elephant crossing, African savanna, rainforest, primates, big cats, and waterfowl lake. In the Wilderness Trek section, you can observe Amur tigers, wolves, bears, reindeer, and much more.

The zoo also includes many special activities, such as a kid-friendly train, carousel, nature center, 4D theater, and even a zip line!

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo - Cleveland, Ohio - Ohio Zoos
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo | photo via @zoophotography0118

Toledo Zoo and Aquarium 

2 Hippo Way, Toledo, OH 43609

The Toledo Zoo and Aquarium welcomes more than a million visitors every year, drawn to see the 720 species of animals for a total of more than 10,000 individuals! In fact, the zoo has been recognized as one of the most well-rounded zoos in the world.

The huge variety of animals is the zoo’s main attraction, of course. But there are also many other activities, including giraffe feeding, an aerial adventure course, zipline, carousel, and outdoor train. The facilities also include the Toledo Museum of Natural History. 

But if you prefer just to stroll the animal exhibits, you won’t be missing out. The zoo is mapped out with distinct sections, such as Kingdom of the Apes, Arctic Encounter, the Aviary, Africa, Penguin Beach, Reptile House, Primate Forest, and Tiger Terrace. 

Each exhibit offers the chance to see the world’s most fascinating animals in a safe habitat!

Related: 21+ Best Things to Do in Toledo Ohio [See Glass City]

Toledo Zoo and Aquarium  - Toledo, Ohio
Toledo Zoo | photo via @watchingtheskymakeart

Akron Zoo

500 Edgewood Ave, Akron, OH 44307

The Akron Zoo offers a wide variety of animal exhibits, animal-themed activities, and learning opportunities! In addition to visiting their favorite animals, visitors can also tour the Lehner Family Zoo Gardens. The gardens shelter more than 7,000 native plants as well as an owl habitat and an outdoor amphitheater for educational presentations. 

Other exhibits at the Akron Zoo include the Aviary, Grizzly Ridge, Komodo Kingdom, Wild Prairie, Penguin Point, and Curious Creatures. 

In the Legends of the Wild exhibit, visitors can observe exotic species from Africa, South America, the Himalayas, and the tropics, including leopards, condors, lemurs, capybaras, and more. 

The Akron Zoo also has an extensive bird population, with animals both native and foreign. Some of these include Chilean flamingos, barn owls, bald eagles, white storks, and Andean condors. 

Akron Zoo - Akron, Ohio - Ohio Zoos
Akron Zoo | photo via @rjdickon234

African Safari Wildlife Park

267 S Lightner Rd, Port Clinton, OH 43452

The African Safari Wildlife Park is located in Port Clinton, Ohio. It offers two distinct experiences, a drive-thru and walk-through safari. Each of these gives visitors the chance to get up close to the animals in a safe setting and even feed some of them!

The park regularly features one of the animals, so you will want to keep an eye out for the animal “In the Spotlight”. You’ll also be able to learn interesting facts about them, including their age, size, and details about their species. 

The walk-thru safari experience offers the chance to see animals such as alligators, camels, giraffes, peafowl, exotic birds, gibbons, kangaroos, and lemurs. On the drive-thru safari, guests can observe and even feed emus, zebras, bison, llamas, camels, and more.

African Safari Wildlife Park - Port Clinton, Ohio - Ohio Zoos
African Safari Wildlife Park | photo via @esra_e4

Lagoon Deer Park

1012 Martins Point Rd, Sandusky, OH 44870

Lagoon Deer Park might not have the fame or the visitor count that Ohio’s bigger zoos enjoy, but this hidden gem just outside Sandusky is well worth the visit! The petting zoo features animals from all over the world, many of whom walk freely throughout the grounds. This gives visitors the chance to interact with them as never before (and even give them treats). 

There are more than 200 animals at Lagoon Deer Park. The ones that give the facilities their name are, of course, the deer, who walk where they will throughout the grounds. In fact, they are known to greet visitors at the door. 

Other animals at Lagoon Deer Park include llamas, goats, miniature donkeys, sheep, peafowl, elk, rheas and emus, and Scottish Highlander cows.

Related: Stay, Play, & Eat Local: Your 2022 Sandusky Ohio Vacation Planning Guide

Lagoon Deer Park - Castalia, Ohio
Lagoon Deer Park | photo via @_saralyn_

Wagon Trails Animal Park

907 Youngstown Kingsville Rd SE, Vienna, OH 44473

You can also go on a safari in the town of Vienna, Ohio, where you’ll find Wagon Trails Animal Park. This small zoo is open seasonally from May to September, so it is definitely a hidden gem. The park is home to 350 animals from all over the world. 

Like all good safari parks, Wagon Trails offers visitors the chance to interact with and feed many of the animals on its grounds. These include many exotic birds, such as peafowl, emus, macaws, ostriches, rheas, and cockatoos! There are also zebras, elk, camels, yaks, water buffalo, and many types of cattle from Asia and Africa.

Of course, Wagon Trails is also home to animals that might look more familiar: potbellied pigs, miniature donkeys, horses, llamas, alpacas, and pygmy goats, to name just a few.

Wagon Trails Animal Park - Vienna, Ohio - Ohio Zoos
Wagon Trails Animal Park | photo via @heatherschmidtlove

Choosing the Best Zoo in Ohio to Visit

When it comes to choosing the best Ohio zoos to visit, the choice is almost impossible. Each location offers a distinctive experience with animals from all over the globe and the chance to observe and learn about them up close. In fact, some of these zoos are so large, they might take you two trips to see all there is to see! 

Each of these zoos also has attractions for all ages, from toddler-friendly train rides to adults-only ziplines. So don’t worry about touring the best zoos in Ohio too often. There is no age limit on enjoying the wonder of nature and the animal kingdom.

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