I’ve always loved the zoo and Pittsburgh has a great one for kids (and adults) of all ages. Now that I have a toddler of my own, it’s been so fun exploring the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium and seeing my son learn more about the animals each time. We were gifted a zoo membership for Christmas the past couple years and love it so much that we go as often as we can in the warmer months.
Below are several reasons why the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium is perfect for families. (And why we keep going back!)
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1. There’s a Diverse Selection of Animals at the Pittsburgh Zoo
This is the reason you go to the zoo, right? The Pittsburgh Zoo has a diverse selection of animals, including lions, elephants, giraffes, gorillas and polar bears, all separated by various climates. This makes it a great place to introduce the kiddos to many animals they haven’t seen in person before. Plus the aquarium has a huge variety of fish, sharks and other sea life and is bigger than most I’ve seen for zoos of this size. The Children’s Zoo (a.k.a. the Kid’s Kingdom) even has several animals you can pet, including deer and kangaroos.
New to the Pittsburgh Zoo is also the Jungle Odyssey section. This tropical area includes unique animals like a cloud leopard, anteater, pygmy hippo and more.
2. The Pittsburgh Zoo is Set Up Perfectly for Kids of All Ages
To go along with the great selection of Pittsburgh Zoo animals, the Zoo is set up perfectly for even the littlest kiddos to see the animals up close. The Pittsburgh Zoo elephants are my son’s favorite to observe, both indoors and out.
Many areas have glass walls that the kids can get up close to in order to be inches away from the animals. Most of the outdoor viewing areas also have fences that are built to be see-through. So little kids can stand from a distance and easily see the animals on their own.
3. The Pittsburgh Zoo is Stroller-Friendly and a Manageable Size
Since the Pittsburgh Zoo is tucked right in the middle of the city, it’s not a huge zoo (although it continues to grow!) The great thing about having a zoo membership is that you can make your visit as long or short as you want- which is great if you’re trying to get home for naptime! Plus you can get around everywhere at the zoo with a stroller.
ProTip: I recommend a stroller with sturdy wheels for the zoo. We usually bring either this jogging stroller or a larger double stroller, since the wheels are large, which makes it easier to get around. If you need to rent a stroller, check out Safari Wheels when you enter the Zoo.
4. Going to the Zoo is a Fun Way to Get a Workout In
Despite the manageable size and ability to take a stroller everywhere, this is Pittsburgh. Meaning, there’s no shortage of steep, winding hills to navigate from animal to animal. It’s a fun way to get some exercise for the whole family though, and you can totally do it at your own pace.
A few years back the Pittsburgh Zoo also put in a “Zoofit” footpath to walk in and out of the zoo from the front gate. Previously, the only option to access the Zoo with a stroller was to take the elevator. And if you’re really into climbing those hills, there’s even a ZooZilla 5K Race at the Pittsburgh Zoo that’s held annually.
Not up for tackling the hills that day or traveling with older family members? Don’t worry, the Pittsburgh Zoo train is available on the weekends, with multiple stops throughout the Zoo.
5. The Kids Areas at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium are the Best
The Pittsburgh Zoo totally gets that kids need some time to run wild (pun intended) in between animal viewing. (Especially if they’re still in strollers!) To this effect, there are multiple areas set up throughout the Zoo to let kids burn off some energy. The Kids Kingdom is one of the top children’s zoos in the country, with animals including sea lions, an alligator, kangaroos, beavers, deer, many of which are available for kids to pet. Additionally, there are other areas for kids to play, including:
- The entrance of the Kids Kingdom has a huge play area with slides and climbing areas for kids ages 2+ .
- The lower level of the Kids Kingdom has the Animal Connections Playground for kids of any age that’s set up right next to the kangaroo area.
- The Islands area has a huge sand pit with toys for kids to make sandcastles, while parents can lounge in comfy chairs and observe (win-win!)
- The Worlds of Discovery is an indoor area that includes several different animal species. It also has tunnels for kids to crawl under the Meerkat display and a huge banyon tree to climb up and slide down.
- The PPG Aquarium also has a great little area for kids. It includes a touch tank for “petting” stingrays and a tunnel that’s just their size.
6. You Can Bring Food and Drinks from Home
Unlike some parks that require you to purchase their food, you can bring your own lunch or snacks into the Pittsburgh Zoo. There are several different areas throughout the park with tables for you to stop and eat at any time. If you do choose to eat there, Jambo Grill is great the food selection and the views of the safari animals.
7. The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium has Great Events Throughout the Year
The Pittsburgh Zoo events and held throughout the year and cater to kids of all ages. Most recently, the Asian Lantern Festival as the Pittsburgh Zoo became a new favorite. Some other events include the ZooBoo for Halloween, Breakfast with Santa and Zoo Brew for the adults. The Zoo also introduced a story time, which is one of several unique story times in Pittsburgh. It includes live animals plus animal-themed books and songs. If you’re visiting the Pittsburgh Zoo in the winter, be sure to also check out Penguins on Parade on the weekends.
Additional Information on Visiting the Pittsburgh Zoo
Timed tickets are currently required on weekends and additional safety precautions are in place. Be sure to check the Pittsburgh Zoo’s website for up to date information on tickets and entry.
- Hours: Open daily all year round. Be sure to check the Pittsburgh Zoo’s website before going as hours vary by season.
- Admission: $17.95 for adults and $15.95 for children ages 2-13. Children under 2 are free. (Pittsburgh Zoo prices are as of August 2021.)
- Membership: Packages vary. A Pittsburgh Zoo family membership is currently $125 for a year. It includes access to special events and discounts.
- The Best Things to Do with Toddlers in Pittsburgh
- 13 Fun Things to do in Pittsburgh with Kids
- The Best Kid-Friendly Restaurants in Pittsburgh
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