Top 20 Portland Oregon attractions

Oregon Zoo

The Oregon Zoo is in Portland's west hills in beautiful Washington Park.

It's 15 minutes west of downtown Portland at 4001 SW Canyon Rd, and you can drive or take the MAX light rail there. 

The Oregon Zoo is a fun day out, with a gorgeous natural setting amongst forested trails.

The highlight is the new Elephants Lands habitat, where you can observe five Asian Elephants in a huge habitat, with feeding stations and a lake. It's wonderful to see them roaming uninhibited, without bars or cages. There are plenty of overlooks to observe these fascinating animals at a distance.

Another great feature of the Oregon Zoo is the festive Concert Lawn, surrounded by plenty of food trucks.  It's a great place to kick back and enjoy delicious food and beer in a relaxed atmosphere.

The Oregon Zoo is also steps away from the excellent World Forestry Center and a 5 minute drive to the Japanese Garden and Portland Rose Garden, also in Washington Park.

Check hours & tickets for the Oregon Zoo.

10 best things to do at the Oregon Zoo

1. See asian elephants roaming around at the huge Elephant Lands habitat.

The big attraction at the Oregon Zoo is the new Elephant Lands habitat, consisting of a huge area for five asian elephants to roam with feeding stations and a lake to encourage movement.  The enclosure is the next best thing to observing elephants in the wild!  

Elephants love to cool off in the lake and blow water through their trunk.

The Oregon Zoo has a bridge with an overlook providing panoramic views of the elephant enclosure.

Only the male elephants have tusks.

Peer through the telescopes to get a closer look.

The adjacent Forest Hall has some fascinating exhibits on the 5,000 year history of elephants, and is a great place to see them on a rainy day. 

2. Hang out on the fun Concert Lawn with food trucks and picnic tables.

As an added bonus, there's also a Concert Lawn next to the Elephant Lands exhibit with food trucks, a restaurant, and plenty of picnic tables. It's the perfect place to hang out and enjoy a beer on a warm summer's day.

3. Wander through shaded woodland to see Northwest animals like bears and cougars.

One of the loveliest areas of the Oregon Zoo is the wooded section in the Northwest Exhibit, with plenty of shade in summer.  Meander down an enchanting path under a forest canopy with a refreshing creek and waterfall, while observing black bears, beavers, river otters, cougars, bald eagles and condors.  The mountain goats are near the Oregon Zoo entrance.  This exhibit is designed to resemble the rocky terrain of the Cascade Mountains.

4. Get up close to goats, turtles, rabbits and chickens at the fun Family Farm.

You'll discover the Family Farm in a brightly colored barn at the end of the Northwest Exhibit at the Oregon Zoo.  Experts are on hand to answer any questions about the animals, including goats, turtles, rabbits and chickens.  Take a photo of your kids sitting on the country and western saddle-seats inside the barn!

5. Peer into aquariums to see harbor seals and sea otters.

The Pacific Shores exhibit at the Oregon Zoo has playful harbor seals, sea otters, polar bears and penguins. You can even wander into dark tunnels and look out into the aquariums.  

6. See some of Africa's most majestic animals like giraffes and lions.

The Africa Savanna Exhibit at the Oregon Zoo has popular animals like giraffes, lions, cheetahs, rhinos, hippos, tortoises, and flamingos.  Check feeding schedules at the giraffe feeding deck.  

These are some African Spurred Tortoises.

Can you see the African Slender Snouted Crocodile?  He's very camouflaged in the dirt.

7. Take a fun ride on the Zoo Train at the Oregon Zoo.

A 1-mile Zoo Train encircles the perimeter of the Oregon Zoo.  It's just adjacent to the new Nature Exploration Center with an insect zoo that includes creepy crawlies like spiders, millipedes and caterpillars.

8. Enjoy the lively Summer Concert series.

Check calendar for a fabulous selection of summer concerts at the zoo.

9. Visit restaurants and cafes at the Oregon Zoo.

Check food options at the Zoo.

10. Purchase a ticket for the magical ZooLights event during the holiday season.

Attend the magnificent ZooLights at the Oregon Zoo, where the zoo is illuminated by more than 1.5 million lights.

Know before you go 

  • Address: 4001 SW Canyon Rd, Portland, OR 97221.
  • Public TransportMAX light rail from downtown Portland.
  • Drive: 15 minutes from downtown Portland.
  • Hours & Admission: Check opening times & admission.

Other fun things to do near the Oregon Zoo.

The Oregon Zoo is just steps away from other popular Washington Park attractions including the Portland Childrens Museum and World Forestry Center.   The stunning Japanese Garden and Portland Rose Garden are also in Washington Park, and a 5-minute drive from the Oregon Zoo.

More Kids Activities in Portland Oregon

Review this attraction