As part of a summer series, T+L is highlighting amazing lesser-known attractions found in the United States. Next up: a place in Pittsburgh to get a little wild.
Since 1898, the residential and municipal park area in the Steel City has offered locals a temporary escape from the hustle of the city. Welcome to the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium.
For first-timers, Tracy Gray, the zoo's public relations manager, recommends prioritizing the PPG Aquarium, home to jelly fish and sharks, or the Water’s Edge exhibit, where sea otters and polar bears can be spotted playing together.
Afterward, stop and say hello to some famous faces, including a tiger named after country star Billy Ray Cyrus and a penguin named after the Pittsburgh Penguins’ goalie Marc-André Fleury. Then go see one of the zoo's newest—and, arguably, cutest—inhabitants: the Amur leopard cub, who was born in February. He's the first new Amur leopard cub the zoo has seen in 16 years.
Another highlight? The Islands, a new, 22,000-square-foot exhibit where visitors can see swimming pigs and Philippine crocodiles.
Locals know the Pittsburgh Zoo is a popular spot for school field trips and summer camp visits, so it's easiest to beat the queue at the opening gates in the early morning or late evening. Hours and admission prices vary depending on the season, with gates opening around 9:30 a.m. and closing by 5 p.m. Adult and children tickets are $14 to $16, and children under 24 months receive free admission. Check for special events and pricing throughout the year, including breakfast with Santa and a free admission day.
No matter when you take your trip, be sure to pick up a zoo key at the admission gates or at one of the gift shops. The keys can be inserted into electronic boxes scattered across the zoo that provide information about the animals and exhibits.
Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium is located at One Wild Place, Pittsburgh, Pa. For more information, visit www.pittsburghzoo.org or call 412-665-3640.