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.
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 which makes it easy to get around in a short period of time. (Translation: you can get in and out before nap time!) Plus you can get pretty much everywhere with a stroller.
ProTip: I recommend a stroller sturdy wheels for the Zoo. We usually bring our BoB Jogging 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. (Prices pictured here as of September 2018.)
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. Now that I’m home with my son, I’m finding there are only so many options to exercise with your baby or toddler during the week. This is one way to do it that’s fun for everyone. Plus you can totally do it at your own pace, whether you want to take your time or speed through the Zoo and just enjoy the view.
The Pittsburgh Zoo also put in a “Zoofit” footpath in 2018 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 push you purchasing their food, you can bring your own and there are many tables throughout the park for you to stop and have a snack or meal. Plus, if you do choose to eat there, the food is actually really good and there are several fresh, healthy options. We like Jambo Grill for the food selection and the views of the safari animals. There are several other options to choose from throughout the Zoo, including the kid focused Bean Sprouts Cafe in the Children’s Zoo.
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. Some of the events including 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.
We’re excited to continue exploring everything the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium has to offer as our son learns more and more about the animals each time. More to come on our zoo adventures in the future!
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 July 2020.)
- Membership: Packages vary. A Pittsburgh Zoo family membership is currently $125 for a year. It includes access to special events and discounts.
Related Post: The Best Things to Do with Toddlers in Pittsburgh
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