As full-time travelers, my family and I love to find amazing attractions all over the country. From museums to national parks, we make a point of seeing as much as we possibly can during our travels, and that has paid off in some really awesome ways. We’ve seen some incredible sights and learned some really cool things.
One type of attraction we like to seek out are zoos. There are zoos in every single state and some of them are true gems. Anytime we find one of those gems, we make sure to take note. We also keep a running bucket list of zoos we’d love to see, based on the recommendations of fellow travelers.
Today we are going to share those notes with you. After all, you want to make the most of your RV road trips, and seeking out the very best attractions is one of the best ways to do that.
Our favorite zoos are listed below. These are zoos that stood out to us by offering something unique and interesting. Each and every one was clean and well kept, and most had attentive zookeepers who were happy to answer questions.
1. Saint Louis Zoo, St. Louis, MO
We absolutely loved our visit to the Saint Louis Zoo. This is a free attraction but it is meticulously maintained and far from small. In fact, there’s so much to see that we didn’t even get through it all.
We adored the penguin exhibit, which allows you to get up close and personal with these fascinating creatures. The polar bears were pretty cool too.
St. Louis RV Park is a very convenient place to park your RV while exploring the city.
2. The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, Palm Desert, CA
The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is a smaller zoo, yet extremely interesting in that they narrow their focus to only desert animals and plants.
The staff is quite knowledgeable about desert life, and the many presentations offered throughout the day are incredibly informative. Go for a camel ride or plan your visit around their giraffe feeding.
We very much enjoyed staying at Palm Springs RV Park when we visited this zoo.
3. Cape May County Park and Zoo, Cape May, NJ
Cape May County Park and Zoo is another free attraction. However, unlike the Saint Louis Zoo, this one is tiny. Despite its size, this is easily one of our favorite zoos we’ve ever visited.
The animals are well cared for, and the small size actually makes the experience more relaxing than a typical zoo day. To top it all off, the playgrounds just outside the zoo are fantastic.
The nearby Sea Pines RV Park is the perfect place to stay when visiting Cape May County Park and Zoo as well as the nearby beaches.
4. Oklahoma City Zoo, Oklahoma City, OK
This is a clean and beautiful park located in the most unlikely of places. Most people don’t expect much from Oklahoma City, but we must say, their zoo is outstanding. The elephant exhibit is gorgeous, and the ape and wild cat areas are awesome as well.
Kids love the children’s zoo, where they can pet farm animals or wade in the man-made stream, and the restaurants at this zoo are surprisingly good.
A nice place to stay when visiting the Oklahoma City Zoo is Twin Fountains RV Park located just down the street from all the best OKC attractions.
5. Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, Cincinnati, OH
This large zoo is one of the prettiest and best-laid-out we’ve seen. It includes countless animal habitats, some really cool animal encounter opportunities, a 4D theater, and some kiddie rides.
This zoo has a polar bear and penguins, which were pretty awesome, and the Insectarium was very interesting. Of course, we all loved seeing Fiona the Hippo.
If you’re looking for a place to stay during your time in Cincinnati, Winton Woods Campground is a great place to come home to.
Visiting zoos on a budget
Not sure you can afford to go zoo-hopping during your RV adventures? You might be surprised just how affordable it can be. Many zoos are free or very low-cost, and many of those with higher admission prices are part of the AZA reciprocal program.
Depending on the zoo you join through and the zoo you are visiting, having an AZA reciprocal membership will give you free or half-price admission to dozens of zoos throughout the US. For this reason, we highly recommend investing in an AZA membership before you plan your zoo adventures.
While we have loved exploring the zoos mentioned above, we are well aware we’ve only seen a handful of the amazing animal attractions our country has to offer. For this reason, we keep a running list of zoos we’d like to see during our travels.
Currently, our list includes San Diego Zoo, Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha, and Memphis Zoo. These were recommended by friends, and after reading reviews and doing some research of our own, we’re confident they’re worth adding to any travel plans you may be making as well.