Oregon Zoo

The Oregon Zoo is one of the top attractions in Portland. Located within the city's limits, the Oregon Zoo is known for its vast variety of animal and plant species as well as for its numerous community programs, from concerts to events. Historically speaking, the Oregon Zoo has an interesting history as the private collection of a pharmacist that acquired animals from sailors passing through Portland in 1882. Since then, the Oregon Zoo has become a favorite attraction amongst visitors and locals thanks to its unique exhibits, educational programs and continuing expansion efforts.

Best and worst time to go to the Oregon Zoo
The Oregon Zoo is one of the city's most popular attractions for families, especially on school holidays. Second Tuesdays of the month, admission prices drop to $4, also creating big crowds. Sunny days are prime days for visiting the mostly outdoor attractions; so if you want to avoid the crowds, go on a cloudy day with a chance of drizzle. If you do get caught in the rain, duck into the Aviary and wait it out.

Must see/do at the Oregon Zoo
During the holidays, be sure to check out the popular ZooLights exhibit. If you visit during the rest of the year, other special events, like summer concerts, are also worth exploring. Families with small children will want to stop at the petting zoo and the currently expanding Elephant Lands exhibit is popular the world over.

Admission to the Oregon Zoo
The Oregon Zoo is open every day of the year, except Christmas. The Oregon Zoo has seasonal hours, so check before you plan your visit. Admission is free for kids under two and ranges from $8.50 to $11.50, depending on age. There are a variety of discounts available, including second Tuesdays of every month, veteran discounts and free admission on Veteran's Day as well as discounts for large groups and taking public transportation and various social services affiliates.

Parking at the Oregon Zoo
The parking rates at Oregon Zoo are the same as in downtown Portland, with a maximum daily rate of $4 during the off-season and a higher rate during the main season, which is summer. For special events, parking and parking rates vary, so be sure to check the zoo's website for details if you plan to visit during ZooLights.

Public Transportation to the Oregon Zoo
If you take public transportation to the Oregon Zoo, you can get $1.50 off the price of your admission, simply by showing your ticket. Located in Washington Park, Oregon Zoo is accessible by train or bus, including the TriMet light rail or MAX red or blue line, which stops at the Washington Park station next to the zoo. You can also take Bus 63 or the 83 Washington Park Loop during the summer.

Food at the Oregon Zoo
The Oregon Zoo offers many dining options, the most extensive of which is the Cascade Grill. There are also coffee stands and snacks and concessions in addition to the AfriCafe offering hamburgers and hotdogs and the BearWalk Café, an outdoor eating environment serving easy food to go, such as pizza.

Insider tips for Visiting the Oregon Zoo
To avoid the long lines at the gate, buy your tickets online. And although there are plenty of dining options in the zoo, you can also bring your own food, which will save you money. Despite being a small zoo, there is a lot of ground to cover, so for small kids you should bring a stroller. If you take the train on the loop around the Washington Park area you can also hop off to explore the International Rose Test Garden and Japanese Garden, other popular Portland attractions.

Author's bio: Carly Zinderman is a freelance writer from Los Angeles that loves to travel. She has written for many websites on topics including travel, food and drink.