Los Angeles Zoo
With its 1,200 finned, feathered, and furry friends, a visit to the Los Angeles Zoo is a must for kids of all ages (parents will love the zoo, too). Even on a hot day the zoo is a welcome respite, thanks to the shady garden-like grounds. Meerkats are the current squeezables of the Disney set and one well-placed, big-eyed Timon wows kids entering the zoo. From there, undisputed crowd-pleasers include swinging gibbons, frolicking sea lions, posturing chimpanzees, and cuddling koalas.
Cleverly designed habitats highlight a visit here. The chimpanzees of the Mahale Mountains has plenty of primate activity, while orangutans lumber about in the Red Ape RainForest. The Campo Gorilla Reserve provides a habitat for six African lowland gorillas that closely resembles their native West African homeland, and at the Pachyderm Forest, elephants and hippos relish in a climate-controlled environment, complete with an underwater viewing area. Tots gravitate toward Adventure Island with its petting zoo and hands-on play stations as well as the Children's Discovery Center.
The Los Angeles Zoo is located in Griffith Park. Access to the park is easiest via the Griffith Park Drive or Zoo Drive exits off Interstate 5. Parking is plentiful and free. The Zoo has plenty of restaurants and cafes, as well two gift shops: the International Marketplace and Safari Station. The Los Angeles Zoo is deceptively larger than it appears from outside; you'll need at least 3 to 4 hours to see everything.