Take a trip to the wild side at the Portland Zoo! If you’re like many people, you probably haven’t been a zoo in a while. Fortunately, the Portland Oregon Zoo is chock full of reasons to start planning your visit to Portland right now.
Chances are good that even if you have been a zoo in the last few years, it was nothing like the fascinating world that awaits you inside the Portland Zoo. With exhibits covering diverse environments like African rainforests, the Pacific Northwest Cascades, a family farmstead or the polar reaches, this zoo has animals of every habitat and description.
Daily tours, talks and demonstrations let visitors get up close and personal with wildlife and their keepers, bringing the zoo to life in rich and wonderful ways. Camps, classes and programs create opportunities for visitors four years of age and up to get behind the scenes and explore in unique ways, too, from Discovery Day Camps to Pub Talks. Whatever your speed, the zoo is ready for you!
Don’t be surprised if a once-over of the exhibit list has you heading straight to the counter to buy a Portland zoo membership. The zoo a sprawling 64 acres of animal habits with 23 distinct exhibits in five dedicated regions, interspersed with cafes, food carts, event space and more! The zoo even offers animal encounters, including lemur interactions, penguin meet and greets and a petting zoo Portland residents and visitors can book for additional fees.
Four exhibit regions cover geographical areas (the Great Northwest, Asia, Pacific Shores and Africa) and the fifth is devoted to Fragile Forests across the world. In addition to these spaces, the museum offers smaller, more domestically oriented educational displays such as its Catio. The Catio is operated in partnership with Banfield Pet Hospital and balances the love and care of animals both globally and close to home.
More than just lions, tigers and bears (oh, my!) the zoo is home to:
- Eagles, macaws and other birds.
- Big cats.
Don’t forget to check out the Portland zoo train during your visit! For just a few dollars, you and your family can ride the zoo’s private train through the Elephant Lands and Family Farm exhibit areas during standard zoo hours.
A quick review of the calendar suggests there’s never a dull moment at the zoo. Summer sees a full slate of Portland zoo concerts featuring world-class performers in every genre in the zoo’s impressive outdoor concert space. While tickets typically start in the $35 range, they can scale to over $100 a piece, depending on the show, so visitors are encouraged to check out the schedule and snatch up tickets to their favorites early!
Summer is also the season for zoo camp at Portland Zoo! Interactive camps are offered by age and run in two separate sessions per age group throughout the summer. Topics include “Plants vs. Animals,” “Extreme Animals,” conservation, animal care and other age-appropriate topics. Discovery Day Camps run throughout the summer as well, opening up opportunities for education and fun to children four years of age through eighth grade. Discovery Days can be stacked with weeklong summer camps or enjoyed independently.
Perhaps the most beloved event of the year, however, is the Portland Zoo Lights. Each November, the zoo strings nearly two million lights throughout its landscape and creates one-of-a-kind 3D light sculptures across its grounds. Families bundle up and come from far and wide to wander the brightly lit paths and enjoy the magic of the holiday spirit straight through until the new year. If you can only make one event during the holiday season, most locals recommend making it the Zoo Lights at Portland Oregon Zoo, hands down.
If smaller, more intimate events are more your speed, check out the zoo’s Pub Talks events or set up a ZooSnooze with some friends.
Getting to the Zoo
Parking at the Oregon Zoo is limited. While the website offers an up-to-date gauge of how much parking is available at any given time, many visitors opt to take convenient public transit to avoid the hassle. To encourage eco-friendly public transit use, the zoo offers discounts on admission to visitors who show their TriMet tickets at the time of purchase.
Visitors can use the Portland Zoo map conveniently posted on the museum’s website and the MAX light rail interactive map to find the quickest and easiest route to the zoo, taking the Red or Blue train lines to the Washington Park station stop. TriMet Bus Line 63 also takes passengers to Washington Park station, and therefore the zoo, on a regular schedule.
Alternatively, with so many hotels near Portland zoo offering bicycles for loan or rent, visitors may prefer to take the nearby bike paths to the zoo instead.
Tickets and Pricing
The Oregon Zoo is closed on Christmas Day, but every other day of the year its doors are open to the public. Portland Zoo hours vary by season, beginning at 9:30 a.m. year-round and ending at 6 p.m. during the summer and 4 p.m. during the fall and winter. Exact dates are on the website and should be consulted before visiting, as events and other variables may alter them from time to time.
Children two years of age and younger may enter and enjoy the zoo and its events at no charge. Tickets for children between three and 11 years of age are $12.95, and Portland Zoo tickets for adults are $17.95. Discounts are available for seniors and members of the military.
Alternatively, individual memberships start at just $79 a year, and family passes start at $169. In addition to unlimited zoo visits, members receive access to special events, reciprocal admissions privileges at partnering local attractions and discounts on classes, camps and workshops.
Discounts on Portland Zoo admission are also available for groups, during specially designated days or times, or for qualifying socially or economically disadvantaged families. Visitors can find the best Portland Zoo prices and avoid lines by purchasing their tickets online in advance.