Giraffes at the Oregon Zoo — Photo courtesy of Meagan Shamy
The Oregon Zoo is located on 64 acres in downtown Portland, part of Washington Park. The Oregon Zoo is a must-visit on any trip to Portland. It's home to 1,955 animals, including lions, cougars, beavers, bats, elephants, penguins, monkeys and bears.
A visit to the Oregon Zoo could easily fill an entire day, as you walk around admiring the animals. Be sure to check the day's schedule when you arrive to make sure you don't miss out on seeing the lion cubs, watching a live bird show or listening in on one of the other zookeeper talks.
They offer a zoo shuttle and a train to help you get around the zoo. The shuttle is free and primarily for those struggling to walk the entire zoo. Strollers, wheelchairs and electric scooters are available for rent through the Zoo Store in the entry plaza. The train is fun for kids and open to anyone who buys a train ticket. (Note: Currently, the train is not running, but it will resume in time for Zoolights 2014.)
Cascade Grill is open when the zoo is open and located right past the ticket booths. Here you will find an assortment of options including salads, shepherd’s pie, spaghetti, chicken tenders and kid's meals. Inside the zoo, you'll find tons of food options at the multiple snack stations spread throughout the zoo.
You're allowed to bring in your own food. Many families pack a picnic to enjoy on the main lawn, while they watch the bird show.
One of the Oregon Zoo's bears — Photo courtesy of Meagan Shamy
During the summer months, the zoo features a concert series with some well-known artists. Unless you are a zoo member, you will need to purchase an additional ticket to attend one of the concerts. They also have family nights with Radio Disney.
Zoolights is an annual event leading up to Christmas and the zoo goes all out with decorations, especially the lights. This event usually runs the day after Thanksgiving until the Sunday after New Year's Day.
The Oregon Zoo offers specials throughout the year, military discounts and membership opportunities. The Oregon Zoo's best deal is on the second Tuesday of every month, when you can buy $4 tickets.
Regular admission tickets cost $11.50 for adults and $8.50 for children ages three through 11. Children two and under are free. When you're buying tickets, you can also purchase a zoo key for $2.50. This key can be used throughout the zoo on special displays to learn more about the animals, and it adds a fun element to your visit.
If you drive to the zoo, then you will have to pay to park now. This is a new change due to the City of Portland taking over the zoo parking lot. Hourly rates are $1.60 an hour, with a $4 daily maximum during the non-peak season, and a higher $6.40 daily maximum rate during the peak summer season.