The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is one of the best zoos in the United States and one of the most popular attractions in Central Ohio. I’m not just saying that because I live in Columbus. It is consistently voted among the best zoos in America on practically any “best zoos” list you can find.
Here’s everything you need to know to enjoy a great day at the Columbus Ohio Zoo and Aquarium, including hours, tickets, parking, attractions, nearby hotels, and FAQs.
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Columbus Zoo Hours
Through September 30, 2023: Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Monday to Thursday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
- Friday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m
November 1 to 15, 2023: Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
November 16 to December 31, 2023:
- Sunday to Thursday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
- Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Columbus Zoo Tickets
Columbus Zoo tickets for Franklin County residents:
- Ages 3 to 9: $16.99
- Ages 10 to 59: $19.99
- Ages 60+: $18.99
Columbus Zoo tickets for anyone residing outside of Franklin County:
- Ages 3 to 9: $25.99
- Ages 10 to 59: $29.99
- Ages 60+: $27.99
Kids under 3 are always free at the Columbus Zoo.
Columbus Zoo Discount Tickets
There are a few ways to get discounted tickets for the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.
- Seniors 60 and older and kids 9 and under are eligible for discount tickets.
- AAA members can save $1 off zoo admission at the gate with a valid membership card.
- Zoo Bus riders can enter the zoo for only $3.
- A Zoo Culture Pass with free zoo entry is available at select Columbus library locations.
- Ohio residents participating in eligible programs, including Medicaid and the Ohio Direction EBT card, can get a Family Access Membership for discount tickets.
- Groups of 25 or more guests are eligible for discounted tickets.
- Military (both active and non-active) can get a $2 discount on up to 6 tickets at the front gate.
Parking at the Columbus Zoo
Parking is $10 per car. Free parking is available with a Columbus Zoo membership.
Hotels Near Columbus Zoo
- AC Hotel by Marriott Columbus Dublin – Excellent location in downtown Dublin, Ohio
- Embassy Suites by Hilton Columbus Dublin
- Holiday Inn Columbus Dublin
- Home2Suites by Hilton Columbus Dublin
- Nationwide Hotel and Conference Center
Columbus Zoo Map
You’ll find an up-to-date Columbus Zoo map here.
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is located in Powell, a suburb just northwest of Columbus.
Location: 4850 Powell Road, Powell, Ohio 43065
Columbus Zoo Attractions
Rides: The Grand Carousel, North America Train, Island Boat Ride, Camel and Pony rides, Sea Dragon, Flying Clipper, Havoc Harbor, Safari Stampede, Swingin Gibbons, Dust Devil, Golden Frog Hopper, Jack’s Tea Party, Tiny Tusks, Tiny Town Train, Redwood Falls, Sugar Glider, Falcon Fall, Mission Macaw (*Rides cost extra)
Exhibits: Asia Quest, Australia and the Islands, Congo Expedition, Heart of Africa, North America, Shores and Aquarium
Playgrounds: Polar Playground, Strings, Wings n’ Things Playground, Shores Play Park
Shows and Presentations: Shores 4-D Theater, Surfin’ Safari, Discovery Reef Diver, Cheetah Run
Special Activities: Giraffe feeding, Animal Encounters Village, Habitat Hollow, Kangaroo Walkabout, Petting Zoo, Stingray Bay, Tide Pool Touch
Driving Distance from Nearby Cities:
- Cleveland, Ohio: 2 hours 10 minutes
- Toledo, Ohio: 2 hours 5 minutes
- Cincinnati, Ohio: 2 hours
- Dayton, Ohio: 1 hour 20 minutes
- Indianapolis, Indiana: 2 hours 55 minutes
- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: 3 hours 10 minutes
- Detroit, Michigan: 3 hours
If you love the Columbus Zoo, you should check out The Wilds — a 9,000+ acre non-profit wildlife park and conservation center located about 1.5 hours outside of Columbus. It makes a great day trip or overnight getaway.
5 Reasons to Visit The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
There are so many reasons why you should visit the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. Here are the top 5.
1. Conservation — Manatee Coast Exhibit
At first glance, the Manatee Coast Exhibit looks like a regular zoo exhibit. But it’s not. It’s actually a Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation facility. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium participates in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Program.
The exhibit opened in 1999 and has housed 21 manatees during that time. The ultimate goal of the program is to release the animals back into the wild. Once released, the manatees are tagged, tracked, and monitored as part of the program.
2. Family-Friendly Fun at The Barn
Bob Evans Farms My Barn allows the whole family to interact with domesticated animals like goats, sheep, chickens, and cows. You’ll get up close and personal with these animals and have the opportunity to brush or feed them (or give them a scratch between the toes)!
3. Keep The Kids Entertained — Rides and Playgrounds
The kids will not run out of things to do at the Columbus Ohio Zoo. There are 3 separate playgrounds, a boat ride, train ride, carousel, and pony and camel rides. The 4-D Theater shows 8 to 12 minute movies in 4-D, and Stingray Bay allows you to get up close with beautiful rays.
Read More: 53 Fun Things to do in Columbus, Ohio
4. Heart of Africa — Transport Yourself To An African Savanna
This exhibit is just plain awesome! The main area of the exhibit really makes you feel like you are on an African savanna. This large exhibit spans 43 acres and features giraffes, lions, zebras, gazelle, ostrich, wildebeest, vervet monkeys, and cheetahs.
The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is involved in the Ewaso Lions project to promote conservation in Africa. This project focuses on Kenya’s lions and other large carnivores by promoting peaceful coexistence between animals and people. While enjoying Heart of Africa, try taking a camel ride, feeding a giraffe (designated times), or have lunch with a view at the Mapori restaurant.
This exhibit is seasonal and is closed throughout the winter months. But you should definitely check it out if you’re visiting Columbus in the summer.
5. Jack Hanna — America’s Favorite Zookeeper
Jack Hanna was hired as the director of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in 1978. Since then he has helped transform the zoo into a world-class education, conservation, and recreation facility.
He first appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman in 1985 and has been educating viewers and zoo guests about these amazing animals ever since. He is still involved in the zoo and his presence is undeniable as you explore.
Best Time To Visit The Columbus Zoo
The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is located in Powell, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus. It is open 363 days a year, closing only for Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. The hours vary by season, so check the zoo’s website prior to your visit for specifics.
If you will be in town for a few days, consider visiting Zoombezi Bay too. This water park is located next door to the zoo.
As with any very popular attraction, the crowds can be large at times, especially in the summer. If you have the chance to visit during a weekday while school is in session but the weather is still nice, you won’t be disappointed. Central Ohio schools are back in session by mid-August and usually go until mid-May.
Boo at the Zoo
If you’re visiting the Columbus Zoo in the fall, be sure to check out Boo at the Zoo on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays in October.
Boo at the Zoo 2023: Weekends from October 6 to October 29, 2023
Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo
If you find yourself in Columbus from mid-November through December, check out Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo, which starts every night at 5 p.m. This spectacular display lights up the whole park. Bundle up and grab a hot chocolate for a fun winter night at the zoo.
Columbus Zoo Wildlights 2023: November 17, 2023 to January 7, 2024
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium FAQs
Is the Columbus Zoo open to the public?
Yes, the Columbus Zoo is currently open to the public daily.
What is the Columbus Zoo address?
The Columbus Zoo is located at 4850 Powell Road, Powell, Ohio 43065.
How long does it take to go through the Columbus Zoo?
The Columbus Zoo is large so it can easily take a whole day if you want to see everything. However, if you’ve got young children that can’t handle an all-day activity, you’ll be able to see plenty in a few hours.
Can you take food into the Columbus Zoo?
Yes, you can bring your own food into The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. However, straws, glass containers, and alcohol are not permitted. You can purchase alcohol once inside the zoo.
What’s the Columbus Zoo bag policy?
Bags up to 22″ x 10″ x 12″ and coolers up to 14″ x 14″ are permitted inside the zoo. Wheeled bags and coolers are not allowed in the zoo.
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