Our visit to the Cincinnati Zoo was a great experience. I understand now first hand why the Cincinnati Zoo is often ranked as one as the best in the United States (US News). It is actually considered amongst the best zoo’s in the world! That would explain why more than 1.5 million people visit the zoo each year.
Located in the city of Cincinnati and founded in 1873, Cincinnati Zoo is the 2nd oldest in the United States. Home to more than 500 animal and 3,000 plant species many cool and unique things to see. We will definitely return on another trip.
Getting to the Cincinnati Zoo
We planned a road trip to visit a friend in Indianapolis and decided that we would add a stop at the Cincinnati Zoo on the way home. When we left Indianapolis, the drive to Cincinnati only took about 1.5 hours. The drive home to Rochester, NY from Cincinnati took us about 7 hours. If you choose to fly into Cincinnati, the airport is only about 20 minutes from the Zoo.
Parking when you arrive at the zoo is easy. The parking lot on Vine Street is mostly covered parking which is a nice convenience. Cool fact, the solar panels on the covered parking lot power aspects of the Zoo including the electric train!
There is overflow parking for those peak visit times in an additional non-covered lot. You pay for parking by scanning a QR code before you leave. The QR code posters are located around the park and on the walkway to the parking lot. You can also pay at the parking kiosk prior to your exit. Parking is $10 per car.
Tickets and Pricing
We purchased our tickets online. I used ticketsatwork.com to purchase my tickets at a discounted rate but you can also buy them from the Zoo website. Our tickets were $16.00 each for adults and $10 each for the kids. Adult prices start at age 13 and child/senior pricing is in effect for ages 2-12/62+. Our visit took place in last August. My family likes to take advantage of the fact that most kids are back in school during late August, so prices can be cheaper and venues are far less crowded.
If you purchase tickets online at the Zoo website, you will need to select the day of your visit and then you will see the price for that day. Ticket prices can change daily based on attendance. According to their website, the price you pick when you plan ahead will definitely be cheaper than if you wait until the day of your visit. If you do wait, you can purchase tickets at the front entrance. There are also different tickets prices for zoo members, Good for any Day tickets and Twilight Admissions tickets.
Sights to See at the Cincinnati Zoo
At the time of our visit, the newest addition to the zoo was a part of the hippo family. Baby Fritz was just a few weeks old! We did manage to catch a glimpse, but the baby was sticking pretty close to mom in the 70,000 gallon home of Hippo Cove. A few years ago, Fritz’s big sister Fiona made quite a splash when she was born.
There are so many things to see and experience in this zoo. A few things that we noticed that we really loved were the bamboo lined pathways, cleanliness of the areas and clear signage. Another observation was how healthy the animals looked. Their eyes often looked bright, their coats shiny and the habitats well kept.
In total, there are 21 different animal habitats and we hit many of them. The favorites of the Kent Crew included spotting the Asian elephants in the Elephant Reserve, the playful gibbons on Gibbons Island, funny penguin’s at African Penguin Point and animals of Africa. As big Lion King fans, finding real live Meerkats is always a treat along with the lions, cheetah’s. We watched as other fed the Masai Giraffe’s but we didn’t join in.
The absolute favorite for them was however the Spaulding Children’s Zoo. This habitat in the zoo is dedicated to many friendly farm animals like, llama’s, goats and alpaca’s. You enter into a gated area and can walk around with the various animals in the petting zoo. Their favorite goat was a black Nigerian Dwarf goat named Neil.
This section of the zoo also features a small playground where parents can grab a seat while they little one’s let off some energy. Between the slide, monkey bars, crawl tunnel and balance bean the smallest zoo goers can enjoy some run and play time.
All Aboard the Zoo Train
The Zoo has a train and a carousel. Although we didn’t die the train, we did club aboard the train before we left for the dat. Train tickets are $5 per person. My son didn’t want to ride, so Camryn and I hopped aboard for the brief train ride through the park. In 2022 the Zoo switched out the beloved classic diesel train for an electric train. Other attractions include Kanga Klimb and Scooter Pals (Zoo attractions).
Autism Friendly Features
Since we made our visit at a slow time of year, we didn’t run into issues with crowds and lines. The Cincinnati Zoo has done a great job of making the zoo and the attractions accessible to individuals with developmental disabilities. They offer things like Sensory Maps, Zoo Social and Video Narratives and calming rooms. I also thought it was neat that they offer sensory bags with oral motor chewy tubes, fidget, noice-canceling headphones and sunglasses for checkout at the Welcome Center.
Where to stay near the Cincinnati Zoo
With the zoo being located in the city of Cincinnati there are a variety of hotels to pick from within a short distance. The official hotel of the zoo is Graduate Cincinnati on the University of Cincinnati campus.
Since I’ve been partial to Marriott for years, I picked a Springhill Suites hotel in midtown approximately 10 minutes from the zoo. For our family of 4, the suite accommodations that come with a sitting area are always preferred over regular rooms where the bed takes up all the space. Hotel parking was free. We paid about $200 for a double-queen suite studio suite.
We loved our time at the Cincinnati Zoo. My kids have asked to go back and see Neil the goat.