Lions, and hippos, and seals, oh my! Expose your kids to various wildlife by taking a trip to a zoo or aquarium this summer. We’re lucky to have so many great options nearby. Here are highlights from some of the favorites.

Cape May County Zoo (Cape May)

The Cape May County Park and Zoo is a 200-acre park with picnic areas, fishing ponds, walking and bike paths, playgrounds, a disc golf course, and tennis courts. The zoo features more than 550 animals from 250 species. And the best part? It’s totally free!

Safari Off Road Adventure (Jackson)

Boasting 1,200 animals from six continents, including elephants, rhinos, tigers, giraffes, and lions, Six Flags’ Safari takes explorers on an interactive adventure. The safari, open from 10:30 am–5 pm, is included with park admission, but arrive early: Wait times can be up to 2.5 hours on busy days.

Turtle Back Zoo (West Orange)

To celebrate its 50th anniversary last year, this longtime Jersey favorite opened an exciting sea lion exhibit. In addition to its animals, Turtle Back offers a mini train ride and a treetop adventure with zip lines and rope course. And did you know the zoo offers a monthly nighttime tour to see the nocturnal activities of the animals? Check it out!

Jenkinson’s Aquarium (Point Pleasant Beach)

Opened in 1991, the aquarium offers exhibits ranging from Atlantic and Pacific sharks to coral reefs, as well as a Junior Keepers summer camp and weekly “Beachcombing” for families to explore the shore with an aquarium expert. Come watch the penguins and seals fed daily. See the website for times.

Philadelphia Zoo (Philadelphia)

America’s oldest zoo lives in Philly’s newly designated Centennial District. Known for housing many rare and endangered species, the zoo’s 42 acres also feature a children’s zoo, a paddleboat lake, a rainforest-themed carousel, and many interactive exhibits.

Adventure Aquarium (Camden)

See the world’s largest collection of sharks on the east coast and learn about the journey of sea turtles at an aquarium known for hands-on and interactive touch exhibits. Enjoy a fascinating encounter with the hippos, Genny and Button, at the aquarium’s new permanent exhibit, Hippo Haven.

Reader Picks

Key:  (Top Votes)

Adventure Aquarium (Camden)  

Bergen County Zoo/Van Saun Park (Paramus)

Bronx Zoo (Bronx, NY)  

Cape May County Zoo (Cape May)

Central Park Zoo (New York, NY)

Jenkinson's Aquarium (Point Pleasant Beach)  

Mystic Aquarium (Mystic, CT)

National Aquarium (Baltimore, MD)

National Zoo (Washington D.C.)

New York Aquarium (Brooklyn NY)

Philadelphia Zoo (Philadelphia, PA)  

Popcorn Park Zoo (Forked River)

Six Flags Safari Off Road Adventures (Jackson)

Space Farms Zoo (Sussex)

Turle Back Zoo (West Orange)