A small town girl making the big city home. She loves everything DC, and is slowly introducing her one-year-old to the world of Smithsonians, monuments, cherry blossoms and the DMV. A perfect day in town would include breakfast at Eastern Market (or Founding Farmers), checking out the National Gallery of Art, a burger and/or shake at Good Stuff or sandwich from Taylor Made, the two mile walk around the monuments, and cupcakes from Sprinkles (or Georgetown Cupcake if the line isn't forever long) to go.

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National Zoo: Made for Sunny Days

Leopards, pandas, gorillas, oh my! On bright and sunny days, the National Zoo is where we love to be.

National Zoo- Monkeys- DC Mama

Two little monkeys at the National Zoo.

Part of the Smithsonian Institution, the zoo is open every day except December 25.  Let’s be honest though, going to the zoo is a bit more fun when it’s warm. I love that the zoo is also free– there’s a lot less pressure to stay for four hours to make your trip worth it. Although we don’t live in the city, it’s still fairly easy to get to. If we wanted to, we could go at least once a week. Admittedly, we don’t make it that often. We are also lucky to stay for two hours before someone’s sleepy,hungry and worn out from walking.  Street parking is an excellent option for us. I’ve never had a problem landing a spot before noon. Even on a weekend.

This year we’re looking forward to spending a bit more time in the new American Trail exhibit at the zoo (it opened in the fall of last year). We are going to have to time our next visit around the sea lion and gray seal training and feeding talk.

During our last visit we had lunch near the new, solar-powered carousel. My daughter isn’t necessarily one for high-thrill rides, but she loves a trip on the merry-go-round.

Can’t make it to the zoo this week or next? There are 17 different webcams you can check out for the National Zoo’s animals here.

Looking for ways to make the zoo more entertaining? Check out these activity sheets. Zoo-per Bingo is pure genius.

Smithsonian National Zoo Information

  • The Smithsonian National Zoo is located at 3001 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008.
  • From April to October, the zoo grounds are open from 6 a.m. – 8 p.m.; the exhibit buildings are open from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Last admittance is at 7 p.m.
  • Admission to the National Zoo is always FREE!
  • Parking at the zoo is $16 for the first three hours, and $22 for 4+ hours. Parking lots tend to fill up quickly, you can reserve a space online here. Street parking is typically available if you get there early.
  • The zoo is located between the Woodley Park/Zoo/Adams Morgan stop and the Cleveland Park stop on Metro’s Red Line.
  • FONZ members receive free/discounted parking (depending on the membership level) as well as other discounts and priority registration for zoo events.
  • More information about the animals currently at the National Zoo and visitor information is available here.

Looking for More Smithsonian Fun? Rather just stay outdoors? Here’s a bit of both.

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