The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is consistently ranked as one of the best zoos in the country and is home to over 10,000 animals. The zoo is famous for its conservation work, and annually contributes over $1 million to over 70 conservation projects. As a result, the zoo is an educational place for those who support or are interested in conservation work. The zoo is well-suited for people of all ages, especially children, with sites tailored specifically toward them such as a petting zoo called My Barn.

Best and Worst Times to Visit the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
The best time to visit the zoo is from the end of May to the beginning of September, because that is when the majority of the exhibits are open and more activities take place. Another good time to visit the zoo is from late November to early January, which is when the zoo hosts its annual holiday Wildlights display, featuring synchronized light shows and millions of LED lights. The worst times to visit the zoo are from the beginning of September to late November and from early January to the end of May, since there isn't as much available for visitors to see or do during those times.

Must See/Do at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
Visitors should make the trek through the Congo Expedition region, home to leopards, okapi, and gorillas, including Colo, the first gorilla born in captivity and the oldest gorilla in any zoo.

Take a trip under the sea in the zoo's Shore and Aquarium region, where visitors will have the chance to visit the zoo's Manatee Coast, which is part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Program.

Visitors should make a point to walk through the zoo's Heart of Africa region, a 43-acre exhibit which serves as a home to many animals, including giraffes, zebras, and lions.

Admission to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
Admission to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium ranges from $9.99-$17.99. Children under the age of three are able to visit the zoo for free. The zoo also offers discounted group admission prices for groups of 15 or more.

Parking at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
Visitors do have to pay to park their car at the zoo, but buses are not charged for parking. The parking lot at the zoo is large, so visitors shouldn't have any trouble finding a spot.

Public Transportation at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) buses make trips to the zoo on weekends from May 9-31 and on a daily basis from June 1-Sept. 7. The COTA buses will leave from the Statehouse & High stop at 8:10 a.m., 9:40 a.m., 11:10 a.m., 2:40 p.m. and 6:10 p.m. and make several stops before arriving at the zoo. The COTA buses leave from the zoo and make return trips to the Statehouse at 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m., noon, 3:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. If visitors chose to use the COTA buses they will have to pay a fee each way.

Food at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
There are a variety of restaurants in the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and specialty carts are set up throughout the zoo. The food options are immense, and include things such as funnel cakes, smoked chicken, pizza, and salads. The best place to eat is the Congo River Market Food Court, an indoor dining area where visitors can chose between five different restaurants, including Donato's Pizza. Depending on what visitors purchase and where they purchase it, food prices can range from just a few dollars for a beverage to approximately $15 for a whole pizza.

Insider Tip for Visitors to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
Unlike some other zoos, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium does not have transportation inside the zoo grounds. This means that visitors should wear comfortable shoes and be prepared for a lot of walking. The zoo does allow wagons and strollers on the grounds, so visitors with small children may want to bring a wagon or stroller in case their children grow tired of walking. Strollers are also available for rent at the zoo.

Miranda Roehler has lived in Northwest Ohio for her entire life. She studied Creative Writing and History at The University of Findlay and has been published in multiple international journals.