Are you planning on going to Pennsylvania? If so, then whether you’re going with your family, taking a couple’s holiday with your partner, or simply looking to see more of the world by yourself, then zoos are a great option. We’ve managed to find some of the best zoos in Pennsylvania, so you can pick which one to go to first.
Each zoo in this list offers unique exhibits and attractions that many tourists come to admire. IN this blog, you’ll be learning more about which zoos in Pennsylvania are worth visiting, what kind of animals you’ll see, and what activities you can expect from exploring these parks.
Pennsylvania is home to many zoos across its various cities, and they’re home to one of the most unique selections of animals you can find. From snow leopards to cougars to owls and capybaras, you’ll find a lot of animals that are difficult to see anywhere else. Many of these zoos offer a petting zoo as well, where you’ll get to interact with farm animals and giraffes alike. That’s not to mention all of the other attractions some of these zoos offer, including botanical gardens, snack bars, and even rides. There’s truly something for everyone.
Cities in Pennsylvania that Have Zoos
Claws ‘n’ Paws – Lake Ariel
Located in the majestic Poconos mountains and its lush forests, Claws ‘N’ Paws is referred to as the “Zoo in the Woods.” As you explore the zoo, you’ll be immersed in wildlife through its woodland trails and greenery even before you see the animals.
Claws ‘N’ Paws is home to many types of animals, but some of their most popular animal species include black bears, African lions, alpacas, capybaras, and many more. This zoo also offers other activities. One of their most popular activities for kids is fossil hunting, where they can channel their inner archeologist and dig for dino fossils. Guests can also meet, feed, and pet animals in their Turtle Town and giraffe displays.
Claws ‘n’ Paws is also proud to be the first zoo on the east coast to offer lory parrot feeding, something they still offer to this day. Lories are colorful birds that love eating fruit. The ones in the exhibit are very sociable and friendly, so you’re sure to have a great time interacting with them.
Once you’re done looking at all the animals the zoo has to offer, they have a gift shop and a snack bar where you can unwind.
Elmwood Park Zoo – Norristown
Elmwood Park Zoo in Norristown has a lot to offer, whether it’s in terms of exhibits or other fun attractions. The zoo has a wide selection of amphibians, birds, mammals, and reptiles alike. It is best known for bison, cougars, elks, and many more.
If you want to take a break from walking around the zoo, then you can try Elmwood Park Zoo’s special activities. The zoo frequently hosts events in the park, which is an interactive and engaging way to learn more about the animals. These change throughout the year, but one of them you can enjoy is their Breakfast with the Giraffes event, where you can enjoy a menu of breakfast items and feed to giraffes, too. They also have regular giraffe and bison feeding events as well.
If you’re looking for even more experiences at the zoo, they have opportunities to get up close and personal with many of their animals. Training vultures, painting with hedgehogs, touring the zoo with donkeys, and playing with chinchillas are only a few of the ones they offer.
Elmwood Park Zoo also has a lot of rides, recreational amenities, and fun activities like the Percussion park, face painting activity, and carousel rides.
Erie Zoo – Erie
The Erie Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in Pennsylvania. It was first opened in 1924 and has since then been providing a wild and open space for both guests and animals to enjoy. The zoo’s selection of animals ranges from mammals, reptiles, amphibians, insects, and many more. The park is quite large and spacious, containing seven areas in total for guests to enjoy. It should take about 2 hours or more to explore the entire park. With all the exhibits and activities to enjoy, there will never be a dull moment for you and your loved ones.
The Erie Zoo also has a blooming botanical garden. It’s perfect for a nice walk between exploring different exhibits. The zoo also takes pride in their vast collection of different plants and flowers, creating a natural wonderland that looks great in pictures and even better in person.
Once you’re done looking at all of the different animals in the zoo, you and your kids can start enjoying their other amenities. Erie Zoo has fun little places scattered around the park, like ice cream vending machines and photo booths. They also have exciting rides available, such as the Wildlife Carousel and the
Keystone Safari Adventures – Grove City
If you want an adventurous twist for your next zoo visit, then you should consider visiting Keystone Safari Adventures in Grove City. With the number of activities to choose from, an entire day of activity will be guaranteed from the moment you step into the park. You can explore the zoo in two ways. First, they have the traditional walkthrough in the zoo. You can see some of their most popular animals as you walk through the park, like their giraffes, zebras, lions, and many more! If you want something more comfortable, familiar, but still new, then you can also opt for their drive-thru zoo. This option features 100 animals and over 25 species that you can admire from the comfort of your own vehicle.
Their activities may be the best part of the zoo. If you want something new and exhilarating, then you can try Keystone Safari Adventures’ zipline courses. They have beginner, intermediate, and moderate courses available for all guests. Lastly, they also have animal feeding stations and a butterfly house where guests can get up close and personal with their new furry friends. Guests can feed the animals at the reindeer barn, giraffe barn, and the barnyard. Children can also ride ponies for a new experience!
You definitely do not want to miss out on the Keystone Safari Adventures. It’s one of the best zoos in Pennsylvania for those who are craving for thrill and a new experience!
Lake Tobias Wildlife Park – Halifax
Lake Tobias Wildlife Park is one of the zoos in Pennsylvania that you can’t miss out on. Located in central Pennsylvania, it is a 150-acre wildlife park that is home to over 700 animals. When you visit Lake Tobias Wildlife Park, then one of the first things that you should check out is their Safari tour. This is a drive-thru tour that gives guests a hands-on experience of meeting the animals up close and even getting the chance to feed bisons, yaks, elands, and many other animals.
Their wildlife habitat is home to 700 animals that you will rarely find anywhere else. As you roam the park, you will be able to see exotic creatures like the baboon ostriches, kangaroos, water buffalos, and many more! Lake Tobias Wildlife Park also has another interactive treat in store for the kids. They have an on-site petting zoo, baby animal exhibits, and reptile exhibits so that your kids can have a fun and educational experience as they bond with the animals.
If you’re looking to unwind after all the excitement, they also have catch and release fishing at Lake Tobias, where you can catch bass, trout, and bluegills. Plus, with five outdoor pavilions to enjoy packed lunches, this truly stands out as one of the best zoos in Pennsylvania.
Lehigh Valley Zoo – Schnecksville
Lehigh Valley Zoo in Schnecksville, Pennsylvania has an extensive array of animals for guests to meet. While the park is fun and amazing all year round, we recommend visiting the park during the winter time because of one of its unique events. The Winter Light Spectacular is one of Lehigh Valley Zoo’s most popular seasonal attractions, as it immerses guests in a winter wonderland with dazzling lights and cheers after a long day of exploring the zoo.
Even if you don’t end up going to the zoo in the winter time, through, they have a wide variety of events happening throughout the year. Everything from celebrating Mother’s Day to enjoying a live music show could be on their calendar, Beyond the events, its regular exhibits still have all the excitement and education you’re looking for. They have many types of mammals, amphibians, reptiles, invertebrates, and many more displayed inside the zoo.
If you want to take your visit to the next level, then you can also try symbolically adopting an animal! This allows you to contribute to Lehigh Valley Zoo’s cause, which aims to enhance their education and conservation efforts at the zoo. You can also make your own animal plushies at their Build-a-Zoo barn.
Philadelphia Zoo – Philadelphia
Philadelphia Zoo is not just the oldest zoo in Philadelphia — it was the first zoo in the entire U.S. It was first established in the 1800s. Philadelphia Zoo’s history adds to its charm, but its attractions and wide collection of animals are truly what encourage guests to visit the zoo time and time again. The zoo has exotic and beautiful species, such as leopards, flamingos, giraffes, penguins, and many more.
If you want a more immersive experience, you can try out Philadelphia zoo’s famous Zoo360 tour. This tour takes you through a trail filled with mesh-covered paths, allowing you to see the animals up close as they roam above and beyond through the covered trails that can be seen in the tour.
Aside from Zoo360, all guests can enjoy several fun activities. There are carousel rides available for the kids and bird feeding activities available for the entire family. One of the best activities is the TRAKID Nature Blazing Scavenger Hunt, which offers a dynamic and educational experience for kids as they roam through the zoo and learn more about the animals they encounter through the event’s mobile app. Plus, with a bird feeding exhibit, there’s truly a lot to do in Philadelphia Zoo.
Pittsburgh Zoo – Highland Park
The Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium is one of the best zoos in Pennsylvania if you are looking to explore different types of both land and sea animals.
One of the best parts of the zoo is its Wild Encounters attraction. This takes your visit to a whole other level of fun and adventure as you tail one of the zoo’s trained personnel. You get to see the entire experience up-close, as the tour enables guests to see all the things that the trainer does and how the animals typically spend their day. Wild Encounter sessions are only 30 minutes and are in high demand, so make sure to book your tickets ahead of time!
If you aren’t able to secure a spot, then don’t worry. The park itself offers over 8,000 animals and 600 species to view in their habitats, such as the African lion, amur tiger, polar bear, and blue monkey, sloths, barn owls, flamingos, ocelots, and many more. There’s also the PPG Aquarium that’s part of the zoo, which is home to many fish, penguins, jellyfish, eels, stingrays, and more. Just looking at all the animals alone is certainly enough to make your trip one to remember.
ZooAmerica – Hershey
ZooAmerica in Hershey is one of the most enriching experiences that you can get during your stay in Pennsylvania. The park is separated into five major parts: The Southern Swamps, the Great Southwest, Eastern Woodlands, Big Sky Country, and Northlands. All of the areas have their own special group of animals and species, providing a different vibe and environment for each one.
The Southern Swamps have creatures like crocodiles, bluespotted sunfish, cottonmouth, and many more. The Great Southwest is dedicated to animals like the Mexican beaded lizard, Texas-banded Gecko, roadrunner, and many more. The Eastern Woodlands is home to animals like the bobcat, river otter, white tailed deer, and white turkey. The Big Sky Country contains American Elks, mountain lions, turkey vultures, pronghorns, and many more. Lastly, the Northlands showcases animals like the peregrine falcon, grey wolf, porcupine, and other animals that can originally be found across Newfoundland and Alaska.
If the main exhibits aren’t enough for you, ZooAmerica also offers behind the scenes after-hours tours. It’s a guided tour that will allow you to interact with animals and see what they’re doing at night. Alternatively, they have early bird tours that begin before the zoo’s opening time, and photography tours if you’re looking to take some pictures.
Tips for Visiting Zoos in Pennsylvania
No matter which zoo you decide to go to, keep these tips in mind to make your trip the best it can be:
- Visit their websites. Some of these have attractions that are only available seasonally or in a limited quantity. If you are going to a zoo just for that attraction, make sure to book tickets ahead of time for good measure.
- Bring extra clothes. You never know what can happen inside a zoo. Immersing yourself in nature may mean that you need to get down and dirty, so be prepared!
- Pack your own food. Many of these zoos have restaurants or food stalls inside their premises but they can be quite expensive. If you have some extra time on your hands, pack or buy your own lunch before entering the park. It’ll save you a lot of money, especially for big groups.
- Check for coupons or discounts. If you want to save money on your trip, then check to see if the zoo has any special coupons or discounts.
- Wear close-toed and comfortable shoes. Zoo visits usually require a lot of walking, so make sure your shoes are comfortable and fully cover your feet. Tennis shoes are a great option.
- Bring a camera. There are so many wonderful sights to see and experiences to have at a zoo. Bring your camera if you want to create memories that will last a lifetime.
- Make sure your devices are charged. Zoos are usually very large and have many exhibits. If you’re traveling with your family or with someone else, make sure all your devices are charged so you can communicate and find each other.
- Bring some extra cash. You never know what you might encounter at the zoo, whether it’s a unique trinket at the gift shop or a delicious, mouthwatering snack. If you don’t want to miss out on anything the zoo might have to offer, have some cash on hand just in case.
- Get there early. Zoos usually have more people in the afternoon rather than right at opening time. If you get there early, you won’t have to compete with the crowd.
- Grab some sunscreen. No matter what season it is, you’ll want to grab some sunscreen. You’ll likely be doing a lot of walking outside, after all, so you need to protect your skin from the sun.
Zoos in Pennsylvania Recap
Taking a trip to Pennsylvania means that you will be getting the chance to visit some new and unique tourist attractions—including all the zoos listed above. Zoos are a foolproof attraction in every place to visit, seeing as different states and countries have their unique set of exotic animals to view and meet. When it comes to zoos in Pennsylvania, you will definitely never fall short on things to do. From beautiful forest trails, to fun attractions and extensive exhibits, there is never a dull moment. If you still want more zoos, though, check out our post on zoos in New Jersey.
Looking to explore Pennsylvania? Here are some other great things to do in the state: