Looking for a family friendly day trip? Whether you’re packing the cooler and parking it in the pavilion for a whole day or just stopping in for your daily dose of the jungle, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo has what you need to feel grounded, relaxed and connected with nature.
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo believes in open air enclosures and that animals should just roam. We love the goodwill felt at this Zoo. The animals are happy and the people are happy. Best of all, at the end of the day you don’t have fence marks on your face from trying to get a closer look!
With so much to do we could easily write about each fantastic animal exhibit. Instead we’ll give you the whirlwind tour of what we think is one of the best zoos in the country.
If you live in Cleveland or Northeast Ohio get a zoo membership. It pays off pretty quickly and offers you all sorts of perks for a whole year.
Your Guide Map Itinerary
At the entrance grab a zoo map and head left. Human intuition says to turn right but if you do you’ll be following the crowds so go against traffic and get a better view of the animals.
Elephants, Lions, the Australian Outback
Passing the gift shops look to the left and you’ll see the Elephants at Elephant Crossing. The Elephants make the crossing from one section of the zoo enclosure to another a couple times a day. While you wait for this ritual you can see the Lions on the right near the Flamingos and take a nice detour to the Australian Outback. Our favorite Australian Adventure treat is the Yagga tree. Make sure to watch for the crocodile on your way through this active exhibit and luckily even adults can take a ride down that slide.
Birds, Butterflies and Ice Cream
If you go up the hill on the right you’ll walk past the outdoor bird exhibits,the Circle of Wildlife Carousel, the Butterfly House, Waterfowl Lake, and Wade Hall. Stop in Wade Hall for Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream and enjoy it on the deck overlooking the lake. On the right you’ll eye the back of the African Savanna exhibit and can see giraffes close up. We’ll get to the front of the Savanna later.
Wolf Wilderness, Tiger Passage & Northern Trek
Stay on this path you’ll see the Wolf Wilderness which offers a nice air conditioned refuge. If you hang out in the cabin you’ll also find some really cool activities. You can view of the wolves from inside the log cabin as well. The Northern Trek is at the back of the zoo and includes the new Tiger Passage, Seals and Sea Lions and Bears. A series of zoo exhibits you can stroll along from one to the next. Leaning on the railing and watching the bears play is absolute bliss. Between that and the nearby sounds of waterfalls… you almost forget to see the rest of the zoo!
Like what are the chances this little fella could actually move this giant log? Or maybe he was just going in for a hug? So cute
African Savanna & Monkey Island
At this point its a good time to stop and have that picnic or grab food at the Welcome Plaza.
Primates, Cats & Aquatics Building
From here you’ll grab the tram to take you up the Primates, Cats and Aquatic Building. Up here you’ll also find Treetops Cafe and a play ground if you need one!
One of our favorite parts about actually getting up to this part of the zoo is that we always love to take the wooden bridge walkway all the way back down. Just to the left of the primate building, the walkway meanders across a wooded hill with a tree canopy overhead and is generally pretty calm and soothing. It’s also wheelchair accessible. It will lead you back down towards the Australian Adventure exhibit for one last spray in the water shower before heading towards the gift shop at the front of the zoo and out towards the parking lot.
By now you’re probably exhausted and will be happy to know you’ve covered the basics. If you have time on this trip to add in the Rainforest, absolutely do. The Rainforest is on the other side of the ticket booths and offers a nice escape from any kind of weather.
If you haven’t gotten a chance this summer to visit, make it a priority next time you’re in town. It’s been a Readers Choice Zoo and a Top 10 Zoo more than once, alongside Columbus and Cincinnati Zoos, and is definitely worth the visit.
Oh and did you know they just welcomed a new baby snow leopard… Samara.
So many reasons to go!!!