The Portland Oregon Zoo is the oldest zoo west of the Mississippi and today houses over 2000 animals on 64 acres. The enclosures for the animals are large and shows the animals in as natural a habitat as possible.
The exhibits are divided into five different regions of the world and it can take several hours to see the entire zoo. There are lots of places to grab a bite to eat and get a refreshing drink. Park benches are scattered throughout for those that need a rest.
Something is always happening at the zoo especially in the summer. The zoo's summer concert series is very popular. It is held outdoors at the zoo theatre with the audience seated on blankets spread out on the lawn.
Artists for the 2014 summer season include Rodney Atkins, Tori Amos, Lucinda Williams, and Josh Ritter. It is a good idea to buy tickets for these concerts ahead of time because they are often sold out. See a schedule of performances and get your tickets here.
The Washington Park and Zoo Railway takes you on a tour of the park and the zoo. It runs daily during the summer months and on weekends during the fall. It also has special runs for holidays such as The Spook Train at Halloween and the Zoo Lights display over the Christmas Holidays.
There is ample parking at the zoo but it is easy to get there with public transportation. The MAX lightrail train goes right by the zoo entrance. Save your MAX ticket because it gives you a discount on your zoo ticket. You get off the train at the Washington Park stop. You can also take Tri Met bus #63.
The Portland Oregon Zoo is open every day of the year except Christmas Day. Wintertime hours are 9 am to 4 pm. Summertime hours are from 9 am to 6 pm. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, the zoo opens an hour early at 8 am but not all animals can be seen at that time.
Portland Zoo Lights has become a holiday tradition. The Oregon Zoo is transformed into sparkleland with a million Christmas lights in over 200 displays throughout the zoo.
You will see moving light sculptures, 3-dimensional animals in lights, and the zoo train covered with lights. The animated animals appear when you least expect it -- in trees and bushes or on lawns. Zoo elves, costumed animals, live seasonal music, dancers, puppet shows, animals to pet, and seasonal snacks make this a very enjoyable holiday event. You can enjoy the lights on foot or take a ride on the Zoo Train.
Dress warmly. Hot drinks are available. Many of the real zoo animals will not be seen at night so you may want to get there during daylight hours to fully enjoy what the zoo has to offer.
For more information, call 503-226-1561. The Zoo Lights display may be closed if the weather is extremely bad.