The nation’s best zoo rankings are topped by a California treasure


For the last two years, TravelAwaits, a travel planning website for retirees, has asked readers to help them choose the best cruise lines, most scenic national parks and so on for their Best of Travel Awards. Last year, their wildlife-loving readers took on the topic of the nation’s top zoos, nominating and voting on what eventually became a list of nine incredible zoological gardens across the country.
At the top of the list: the San Diego Zoo at Balboa Park. This 100-acre zoo is home not only to 12,000 animals from around the world but a vast botanical garden with more than 700,000 plants. And there’s more to explore at the zoo’s wildlife park, located 45 minutes north in Escondido.
The No. 2 pick was the 163-acre Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park in Washington D.C., which opened in 1889. Today, it houses some 1,500 animals, including the zoo’s popular giant pandas — and admission is always free. And Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo came in at No. 9, thanks to exhibits that showcase wildlife in Pacific Northwest forests, as well as tropical rainforests and the African savanna.
Here’s the top nine. Find details and more “best of” rankings at
1. San Diego Zoo, California
2. Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, Omaha, Nebraska Related Articles Travel | Bay Area city among the 10 best in the world to see while riding a bicycle
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3. Saint Louis Zoo, St. Louis, Missouri
4. Smithsonian National Zoological Park, Washington, D.C.
5. Bronx Zoo, New York City
6. Oklahoma City Zoo, Oklahoma
7. Cincinnati Zoo, Ohio (Tie)
7. Brookfield Zoo, Chicago, Illinois (Tie)
9. Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle, Washington


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