The Philadelphia Zoo

The Zoo 150th Birthday

The Philadelphia Zoo celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2009. So stop by and celebrate this major achievement at America´s first zoo!

McNeil Avian Center

On May 30, 2009 the 17.5-million McNeil Avian Center opened to the public.

This new aviary incorporates lush, walk-through habitats where visitors can discover more than 100 spectacular birds from around the world, many of them rare and endangered. And in the multi-sensory 4-D Migration Theater, viewers can follow Otis the Oriole on his first migration south from where he hatched in Fairmount Park.

The Experience at the Zoo

One of the best laid-out and most animal-packed zoos in the country is set among a charming 42-acre Victorian garden with tree-lined walks, formal shrubbery, ornate iron cages and animal sculptures. The zoo has garnered many “firsts” in addition to being the first zoo charted in the United States (1859).

The first orangutan and chimp births in a U.S. zoo (1928), world´s first Children´s Zoo (1957), and the first U.S. exhibit of white lions (1993), among others.

In addition to its animals, the zoo is known for its historic architecture, which includes the country home of William Penn´s grandson, its botanical collections of over 500 plant species, its groundbreaking research and its fine veterinary facilities.
Big Cat Falls

The highly anticipated pride of the Philadelphia Zoo, Bank of America Big Cat Falls, home to felines from around the world, opened in 2006. The lush new exhibition features waterfalls, pools, authentic plantings and a simulated research station for aspiring zoologists.

Lions, leopards, jaguars, pumas, tigers and seven new cubs are the star attractions.

Visitor Details

Open daily, year-round. Parking can be tight so public transit is a great option.

Check out the Zoo´s trolley shuttle, available through October, making hourly stops at the Independence Visitor Center and 30th Street Station. Service is available starting at 10 a.m. seven days a week through August 31, 2008, with weekends-only service in September and October.

SEPTA Routes 15 and 32 Buses stop within blocks of the zoo. Find specific stops and schedules here.


The nation´s oldest zoo was chartered in 1859, but the impending Civil War delayed its opening until 1874. In addition to its animals, the zoo is known for its historic architecture, which includes the country home of William Penn´s grandson; its botanical collections of over 500 plant species; its groundbreaking research and its fine veterinary facilities.

The Primate Reserve, Carnivore Kingdom, and Rare Animal Conservation Center, with its tree kangaroos and blue-eyed lemurs, are brand new, but there´s still fun to be had in the historic, old-style bird, pachyderm and carnivore houses. In the Treehouse, kids can investigate the world from an animal´s perspective; outdoors, the Zoo Balloon lifts passengers 400 feet into the air for a bird´s-eye view of the zoo.

Longwood Gardens

The Experience

When you´re at Longwood Gardens, it´s easy to imagine that you´re at a giant, royal garden in Europe. Stroll along the many paths through acres of exquisitely maintained grounds featuring 11,000 different types of plants.

Encounter a new vista at each turn: the Italian Water Garden, Flower Garden Walk, aquatic display gardens and many others. Amble through Peirce´s Woods, eight outdoor “rooms” of distinct woodland habitats.

Inside the Conservatory is a lush world of exotic flowers, cacti, bromeliads, ferns and bonsai. Each season brings a different pleasure: spring magnolias and azaleas; summer roses and water lilies; fall foliage and chrysanthemums; and winter camellias, orchids and palms.

On land Quaker settler George Peirce purchased from William Penn, Peirce´s grandsons planted an impressive arboretum. The presence of a sawmill on the property prompted industrialist Pierre Samuel du Pont to buy the land in 1906 to save the trees.

Christmas is spectacularly celebrated with carillon concerts, poinsettias and thousands of lights; summer evenings are embellished with concerts, illuminated fountain displays and occasional fireworks.

Come Prepared

Longwood Gardens is open daily, year-round.

Don´t Miss

Indoor Children´s Garden – Surrounded by tree-covered seating and Longwood´s famous fountains, the new Indoor Children´s Garden provides a safe and engaging space where children can learn about nature with amazing plants and fun activities around every corner.

The Garden features a Central Cove, a Rain Pavilion and a Bamboo Maze, filled with a jungle of tree-sized bamboos for children to explore.

Outsider´s Tip

There are 17 fountains in the Indoor Children´s Garden to enjoy, where children will want to splash and play. An extra shirt or small towel might come in handy!

Buy Tickets Online In Advance

You can buy admission tickets to Longwood Gardens online through our partners at the Independence Visitor Center. Just click the button below.