Looking for a fun vacation destination? Do you also want to engage your interest in birds and parrots? Then you’ve come to the right place. I’ve done your research for you and found the top vacation destinations for pet bird and parrot lovers.
The following list includes amazing aviaries and zoos in the US with amazing exhibits of rare and not so rare birds from around the world. These vacation destinations should be on every bird lover’s vacation wish list.
Do you have favorite bird related vacation destination that didn’t make the list? Send Kibibi an email using this Email Link and let her know about it. This list was created in December 2008 so it may be outdated. Please review each sites webpage and call them for the latest information.
20 Philadelphia Zoo – Established in 1874, that makes this is the oldest zoo of it’s kind in the US. While the city is known for being a tourist destination, the zoo isn’t usually on the short list of sites to visit in Philly. But according to many visitors, it should be. They have a small selection of birds including Birds of Prey, Cranes and Rails, Wading Birds, Waterfowl and other birds including parrots and penquins.
19 Sacramento Zoo – This is not considered a large zoo by many. With just over 400 species of animals in total, some would actually say this is a small zoo. As you might expect, their bird and parrot selection may be considered small compared to some of the other vacation destinations in this Top 20 list. However there are a few species of bird on exhibit that are Endangered or Threatened with Extinction such as the American Flamingo, Button Hornbill, Great Hornbill and the Thick Billed Parrot. So if you’re in the area, it’s worthy of a day visit.
18 Detroit Zoo – Where is the Detroit Zoo located? Answer…. NOT Detroit. Okay, that was trick question. It’s actually located in Royal Oak Michigan. The Detroit Zoo has a variety of bird species throughout the park. They specialize in flamingos, storks, spoonbills and vultures. They also have cranes, barn owls, ratites (ostriches and rheas) and a number of other bird species. The more popular bird habitats at the Detroit Zoo are the African Waterhole and the Matilda Wilson Free-Flight Aviary which has over 30 species of birds.
17 Lowry Park Zoo – Lowry Park Zoo is a located on 56 acres of land in Tampa Florida. It was once recognized (2006) as the “Number One Family-Friendly Zoo in the U.S.” by Child magazine. So the kids loved it but will the bird lover? That depends on who you ask. According to Yahoo Advisor, this site only gets a 3.5 out of 5.0 rating. Most complaints are about the price tag because it’s a “Pay As You Go” atraction. Though not much better, Trip Advisor rates it as a 4.0 out of 5.0. One featured attraction, Spirits of the Sky, is “an interactive and entertaining show that features birds of prey” according to the Lowry Park Zoo.
16 Oakland Zoo – This zoo is conveniently located near the highway and tucked into a hilly wooded area. There are dozens of species of birds at the Oakland Zoo from the African Pied Crow to the Yellow-Naped Amazon Parrot. This site received a 4.5 Stars (out of 5) on Yahoo Travel. The only complaint seemed to be that it was a small zoo. While it may be small, most visitors agree that this will be a good zoo experience especially for children.
15 Buffalo Zoo – According to TripAdvisor.com this is the 3rd oldest zoo in the US! And according to at least one of its visitors “The Buffalo Zoo has to be one of–if not the cleanest and nicest zoos.” While it doesn’t have large selection of birds to view, it does have some unusual birds that you’ll want to view. These include a Bourke’s Parrot, Cloncurry Parrot, and (9) different species of Lories and Lorikeeets.
14 Knoxville Zoo – Some of you may recognize one of Knoxville Zoo’s most famous avian residents: Einstein. Einstein and ‘his’ trainer have appeared on many television programs and a quick search for “Einstein” on YouTube will give you some great results. But is Einstein big enough to attract you to a small zoo? Maybe not but at least a few visitors and a lot of locals agree that the Knoxville Zoo is the perfect sized zoo for a day visit. Besides, how can you leave Einstein’s home off any Top 20 list of bird related vacation destinations?
13 Louisville Zoo – The Louisville Zoo is a large but well planned zoo so plan on doing some walking. It’s also built on a hill side so some of your walk will be uphill so plan your path ahead of time. One main attraction for bird lovers is Lorakeet Landing where you feed the birds (for a fee) from a cup of sugar water. The staff is also more than happy to take your picture with the birds to create a keepsake (for a fee of course) to take with you.
12 Franklin Park Zoo – Franklin Park Zoo was founded in 1913 and covers 72-acres in Boston’s historic Franklin Park. Their Bird’s World exhibit has been there since the beginning of Franklin Park in 1913. It has seen many changes throughout the years and is still the favorite exhibit of many visitors. It’s home to dozens of species of birds from around the globe from many habitats including swamps, scrublands, and wetlands. A unique exhibit is the Night and Day exhibit, featuring tawny frogmouths which are nocturnal. So to accommodate visitors they’ve switched day and night? But how is that possible? when the exhibit opens at 10 a.m., it is dark inside and thus “night” to the birds. Then around 2 p.m. the exhibit fills with light to simulate “day”. This is a big secret so don’t tell the tawny frogmouths.
11 Minnesota Zoo – This is a large zoo covering more than 500 acres. It’s focus is on recreating natural habitats. But according to more than one visitor, they don’t focus on keeping prices down. While others agree that it is very pricey, they also say that it’s worth it. One main attraction for bird lovers is the World of Bird Shows. The birds in this show, according to the Minnesota Zoo, will “awe you with their antics” and include “… one of the world’s rarest birds, a representative of the largest owl species in the world, and one bird whose image is included on the official emblems of twelves states”.
10 Toledo Zoo – It’s a small zoo but most of those that visit the Toledo Zoo agree that it’s a great zoo. The Toledo Zoo’s Aviary was designed in 1937 and underwent major renovations in 1998. This is an award winning aviary with a wide variety of species including the Rhinoceros hornbills, Cuban Amazon parrots, Sunbitterns, Cuban Grassquits, Victoria crowned pigeons, and burrowing owls.
9 Sarasota Jungle Gardens – This vacation destination is high on anyone’s list visiting the Sarasota Florida region. And for good reason! Where else can you get flamingoes to eat out of your hand? The Sarasota Jungle Gardens features two major bird related attractions; Birds of Prey and Birds of the Rainforest. Their Birds of Prey exhibit consists mostly of rescued birds (Hawks, Owls, Vultures etc.) while the Birds of the Rainforest includes a “… performing exotic bird show with a twist.” However, if your looking for a huge attraction, this won’t be your favorite destination. But what it lacks in size, it makes up for in quality exhibits and friendly staff.
8 Busch Gardens Africa – Tampa Bay – Busch Gardens offers a little bit of everything for everyone old and young and that includes something for the bird and parrot enthusiasts. They have (8) themed parks and one of those is the Bird Garden which has have over 500 birds from around the world which guarantees you’ll see something of interest. So whether it’s a show at the Bird Gardens Theatre, a walk through Lory Landing or a walk through the Aviary, you’ll find something to satisfy your inner bird lover.
7 Jungle Island – If location, location, location is important then this is your destination. Jungle Island is located (can you guess?) on an island! Jungle Island is located on an island between Miami and Miami Beach. This Island park has more than 1,100 exotic birds. You and your kids can get up-close and personal with some of their birds by having parrots perch on your shoulders. But according to at least one visitor this ‘hands-on’ experience will cost you!
6 Tracy Aviary – The Tracy Aviary has been around since 1938 when it was created from a charitable act by banker Russell Lord Tracy when he donated his private bird collection to Salt Lake City. Located just south of downtown Salt Lake City, this aviary is an excellent vacation destination. It is home to than 500 birds from 150 species and you’ll get the opportunity to encounter them up close and personal. This should be on any bird lover’s short list of vacation destinations.
5 Parrot Mountain and Gardens – If your looking for a ‘Bird’s Only’ attaction, this may be your destination of choice. Parrot Mountain is located…. wait for it…. on a MOUNTAIN! This is a beautiful outdoor attraction featuring several parrot species from around the world. This is an absolute MUST-SEE according to many visitors. It features outdoor caged exhibits as well as macaws and cockatoos on perches for visitor interaction and feeding (for a fee of course). According to one visitor “The bird nursery was an amazing exhibit unlike any exhibit found in any zoo!”
4 Houston Zoo – Even though it’s located in the heart of the city, you’ll lose yourself once inside and forget all about the bustling city outside. The Houston Zoo has approximately 250 species and 800 specimens of birds from around the world. These species include everything from the familiar Green-winged, Blue-and-Gold, and Red-fronted Macaws to more exotic birds like the King Vulture and Turacos. You’ve probably never heard of Turacos but you’ll want to see them. They have a unique color that isn’t found anywhere else in the animal kingdom. Is it odd behavior you’re looking for? How about the Blue-crowned Motmot? This is a small jay-sized bird with a long racquet-tipped tail that excavates long tunnels in the ground or earth-banks for their nests.
3 Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden – This is the second oldest zoo in the US. It has over 100 species of birds and a wide selection of parrots (over 25 parrot species at last count). Does size matter to you? They have some of the largest birds in the world (Andean Condor) and the largest bird in the kingfisher family (Kookaburra). Just be sure to hold your ears around the Kookaburra, not because it eats ears but because it’s well known for it’s LOUD calls. Too loud or large for your interests? Then maybe you and your kids will love the Lorikeet Landing where you become the ‘landing’.
2 San Diego Zoo – This is a world class zoo known around the world but is it a bird enthusisasts destination? According to many visitors, the answer is a resounding “YES!” The Macaws in the Childrens Zoo, the Flamingo Lagoon, and the Wings of Australasia exhibit are all guaranteed to ignite the bird lover inside you. Is that not enough? How about the Owens Rain Forest Aviary that offers bird lovers an up-close and personal look at more than 200 feathered friends representing 60 species and about 180 birds. This vacation destination should be on every bird lover’s list.
1 National Aviary – This historic aviary may be small in area but it packs a LOT of variety in that small package. There are several walk-through indoor aviaries and glass observation cages. Don’t forget to check their schedules because they have hourly interactive demonstrations with different live species throughout the day and scheduled lectures on different species. Plan on taking a lot of pictures and spending several hours enjoying the large variety of species, daily events, special events and interactive encounters. This bird related vacation destination is a must-see for every bird lover.