One of the first dates that my husband and I went on was a trip to the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma, Washington, so when we moved to Maryland I knew that at one point I would want to make a day of going to the National Zoo. With the east coast quickly heating up we knew that we would want to make a day of it while it was still “spring” and not yet summer, so we decided to go this last Saturday.
To get there we drove down to the Shady Grove metro station because driving into Washington DC is pretty much out of the question. Now, the metro has a station that is dedicated to the National Zoo, but the Zoo is really just about equal distance between the Cleveland Park and Woodley Park stop. IF you were coming from the south the Woodley Park stop would obviously be the stop for you, but since we were coming from the north we decided that we would get off at Cleveland Park to save a few dollars on our metro fare. From Cleveland Park it is a flat walk to the Zoo with only a few streets to cross so this is a great option for anyone taking the Red Line from the north so I think more people should consider this option!
Once we made it to the National Zoo it was time to explore! Unlike most Zoo’s you may have been to in the past there are no ticket booths or kiosks because the great thing about the National Zoo is that it is FREE! This is a great thing for families who want to take their children for a fun day of seeing the animals, or like us, a couple who likes to explore the budget options for adventures where we live. If you have never been before you can pick up a Zoo map for $3, or download the interactive app that the Zoo has available in the Apple Store or Google Play for $1.99. Or, if you don’t mind just wandering aimlessly and following signs you can take the completely free route!
Here are my tips for the National Zoo:
Check the Events Page! There is a Daily and Upcoming Events page that can help you decide what day you will want to go to the Zoo as well as what time you will need to be there by! Checking these pages will help you see all the fun that the Zoo has to offer while being able to customize your trip.
Wear appropriate footwear. You are going to be doing a lot of walking and the National Zoo has hills. I can’t even begin to describe the number of people I saw ditching their footwear and walking barefoot around the park. The zoo is not a place to be walking barefoot!
Bring water. There are food kiosks around the park and a fair number of vending machines, but since you can bring your own food and water into the park save a few dollars and bring your own.
Be patient, understanding, and aware of your surroundings. This zoo is FREE to the public and that can translate into crowds on the weekends and weekdays as summer breaks are about to begin. You may need to wait a few minutes at each exhibit to get to a spot where you can see the animals. With that being said, also try to be aware of where you are standing and do your best to not block walkways especially inside any of the exhibits inside buildings. Your fellow zoo goers will really appreciate you if you keep these items in mind!
I hope you are able to enjoy the Zoo wherever you live!