With 65 acres of animal habitats, attractions, botanical gardens, and the most famous hippo bloat in the world, the Cincinnati Zoo is one of the best places to explore your wild side. Here are some insider tips to make the most of your trip to the Cincinnati Zoo!
Arrive at the Cincinnati Zoo early in the day
The animals at the Cincinnati Zoo are most active in the morning. Get to the zoo early in the morning to catch them when they’re out and about and most active! To avoid most traffic and parking delays the zoo suggests arriving before 10:30 am or after 2:30 pm in general.
*During the PNC Festival of Lights, plan on visiting before 4:30 pm or after 7:30 pm on nice weather days, weekends, and the week of Christmas.
Plan ahead and make the most of your zoo time
If you want to avoid waiting in line to buy tickets, be ahead of the game and purchase your zoo tickets online! The Cincinnati Zoo is 65 acres so make sure to plan ahead before you arrive. Print the Zoo's map at home so you can plan your day around exhibits and attractions you want to experience before you come. If animal shows are on your must-see list, download the Cincinnati Zoo app for an up-to-date schedule of zoo animal encounters, or print out the schedule to help guide your day.
Find your inner koala at Kanga’ Klimb
Challenge yourself at Kanga Klimb, an aerial adventure course and one of the newest attractions at the Cincinnati Zoo. With over 58 elements in the high ropes course, there’s no shortage of heart-pumping excitement and challenge for adventurers four and up! While climbing, enjoy a birds-eye view of the Kangaroos in Roo Valley and when you’re finished, head below for beers and pizza in the Hops Beer Garden.
*Note this seasonal activity closes at the end of October.
Take a ride on the Cincinnati Zoo Safari Train
Kids and adults alike love to cruise by the zoo’s most popular animal habitats on the Safari Train. If riding the train is of the utmost importance to your little one, we recommend heading to the train first thing in the morning. The train is a VERY popular attraction; for the most part, there will always be a long line to wait in.
If riding the train is of the utmost importance to your little one, we recommend heading to the train first thing in the morning. The train is a VERY popular attraction; for the most part, there will always be a line to wait in.
Walk around counter-clockwise
It may sound odd, but when you think about it, everyone else is walking clockwise. If you go in the opposite direction you will have a better chance of seeing the zoo with lighter crowds around you.
Get up close and personal with your favorite creatures
For the biggest animal lovers, check out the behind-the-scenes experiences at the Cincinnati Zoo. From meeting owls and other birds of prey at the Wings of Wonder experience to kickin’ it with kangas in Roo Valley, there are so many wild experiences you can participate in. Tickets to these experiences include admission to the zoo.
Pack a picnic
That’s right you can bring your own picnic to the Cincinnati Zoo! By packing your own sandwiches and drinks, you'll not only save money, but you'll also be able to add to your zoo experience by having a picnic! No outside alcohol is permitted. If you’re not packing a picnic you can order lunch ahead online at CincinnatiZooEats.com.
Sometimes the animals at the zoo can be found hanging out or sleeping towards the back of their habitats. To help make sure your child gets to see every animal on their list, bring along a pair of binoculars. Not only are they fun to use, but they will help make sure your child sees one of their favorite animals.
Keep your eyes open for animal prints
Have you ever noticed the animal footprints on the sidewalks at the zoo? These prints are actually fun clues as to which animals are on view nearby. A great way to add to the fun of your trip is to have your children try to guess which animals are coming up, based on the size and type of print they see.
Become a member of the Cincinnati Zoo
Do your children REALLY love the Cincinnati Zoo? Consider becoming a member. Membership includes free admission for a year, free admission to PNC Festival of Lights, free or discounted admission to zoos across the country, discounts on food and retail, and you can get into the zoo an hour earlier than non-members for several months the spring, summer, and fall. Premium and gold memberships also include free parking and a $10 savings per visit.
Written by Shannan Boyer of Family Friendly Cincinnati with edits by Laura Barfield.