What Not To Miss With Kids At The Oregon Zoo

Oregon Zoo lions

My family and I made our annual summer pilgrimage to the Oregon Zoo. We’ve done this many times over the years. My oldest is now 10 and I have noticed the gradual shift in what she likes to do on family activities. The ooh-aah factor of seeing the animals is definitely waning, but I was determined for her to have fun at the zoo, as well as my 2 younger children.

So, I’ve compiled a list of the must-do activities that will please all children in your family at the Oregon Zoo.

The Polar Bears

I am not sure what child wouldn’t like seeing polar bears. It is hit and miss when you visit them….they might be active or not out at all. So, be sure to check the sign posted on when there will be a feeding (they usually post a specific time). We made a point to come back for that and it was worth it.

Lunch By The Zoo Stage

I always make a point to have lunch out on the lawn in front of the Oregon Zoo stage. They always have live shows, usually involving birds, during the lunch time hours (on the day I went, they had shows at 11:00am, Noon, and 1:00pm). My kids love it and it provides some entertainment while we have lunch. Below, my son offers his donation to Pierre, the vulture.

The Elephants

Well, nothing says “Oregon Zoo” like the elephants. While the exhibit was under major construction while we were there, we were able to catch a few glimpses of them. My kids actually really loved looking at the plans for the amazing expansion that is launching in 2015. And they are spectactular! Between being able to squirt the elephants to the train running through the elephant exhibit, this will surely be a not-to-be-missed new addition to the Oregon Zoo.

The Seals

To me, there is something magical about seals. My kids thought so, too. They seem like such simple creatures, but seeing them glide through the water is peaceful. Meet Gus. At 30+ years old, he is the oldest seal in captivity in the United States.

Gift Shop Fun

Whether you are planning to buy a souvenir or not, there is bound to be something that makes a memory at the gift shop.

Oregon Zoo Quest and Zoo Key

Think of it as a passport that the kids have to fill up with stamps when they use clues in the booklet to find the correct animals. There was no pressure to get all the stamps and they still got a small prize when we exited the zoo (my son is seen above holding one). This turned out to be a fun, engaging activity throughout our day.

We did not purchase the inexpensive Zoo Key before starting our day at the Oregon Zoo, but we saw other children having fun with it. Easily insert a zoo key at the audio kiosks at select animal viewing sites and hear fun facts about that animal! Again, another great way to keep kids of all ages engaged throughout the trip.


Well, my daughter said they were “stinky”, but we were forced into the flamingo pond after looking at the alligators. She enjoyed learning a few fun facts about how their legs work…..and I captured a cool shot.

Oregon Zoo
4001 SW Canyon Rd
Portland, OR 97221
Phone: (503) 226-1561

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What Not To Miss With Kids At The Oregon Zoo

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