11 Best Zoos & Aquariums in Oregon

Updated On October 7, 2023

Oregon is the home of some of the most impressive zoos and aquariums in North America. 

From well-thought-out attractions to state-of-the-art conservation initiatives, there are plenty of opportunities for animal lovers to watch animals interact with their natural environments. 

Below, we will take a closer look at some of the best zoos and aquariums that Oregon has to offer.

Best Zoos & Aquariums in Oregon

1. Oregon Zoo

Located on 64 acres of land in Washington Park near downtown Portland, the Oregon Zoo is the oldest zoo west of the Mississippi

The Oregon Zoo offers visitors a chance to see more than 2,000 animals from around the world, including bears, crocodiles, and giraffes. 

A majority of the animals are African, but the zoo also has American, Asian, and European species.

Nevertheless, its huge variety of animals means that Oregon Zoo visitors can spend hours exploring the various exhibits and animal habitats. 

If you don’t feel like driving, it is easy to get to the Oregon Zoo with the MAX light rail Blue and Red lines, for which tickets can be purchased online. 

2. Oregon Coast Aquarium

If you’re looking for an experience like no other, check out the Oregon Coast Aquarium. 

At the Oregon Coast Aquarium, you will get to see a variety of sea life, from crabs to sea lions. 

Furthermore, you can learn more about these incredible creatures through behind-the-scenes tours and programs.

In fact, the Oregon Coast Aquarium is one of the top ten aquariums in the United States

Its mission is to create engaging experiences and promote ocean literacy. 

To this end, the organization is investing millions in new buildings and features.

The Oregon Coast Aquarium’s Headwaters feature includes a recirculating stream. 

This stream represents the relationship between watersheds and the ocean. 

Finally, you’ll want to check out the Sea Otter habitat, where these endangered animals live in a 90,000-gallon pool with harbor seals.

3. Newport Discovery Zoo

The Newport Discovery Zoo is a non-profit facility that rescues exotic animals and teaches visitors about the natural world.

Nevertheless, while the zoo is open year-round, the best time to visit is during the summer months. 

During your visit to the Newport Discover Zoo, make sure to visit the following:

  • The giant Pacific octopus
  • The sea lion exhibit
  • The Discovery Coast Aquarium
  • The Sea Lion Caves 
  • The Ocean Stars

Plus, be prepared to be treated to the thrill of an underwater view via the aquarium’s nifty underwater walkways.

Finally, if you want to get up close and personal with some of the animal kingdoms, you’ll want to take a behind-the-scenes tour of the aquarium. 

4. Aquarium of the Bay

The Aquarium of the Bay in Newport, Oregon, is known for its diverse collection of marine life from the Pacific Northwest. 

Its main focus is showcasing the unique marine life of the region, with a particular emphasis on the area’s bays and estuaries.

Aquarium of the Bay visitors can expect to see a wide variety of marine life, including sea otters, sharks, and fish, as well as interactive exhibits and educational programs. 

Additionally, this aquarium features a 300-foot underwater tunnel, allowing visitors to capture a unique perspective on marine life as they walk through.

One of the highlights of the Aquarium of the Bay is its Touch Pools where visitors can touch and learn about various sea animals such as sea stars, sea urchins, and many more. 

Overall, the Aquarium of the Bay in Newport, Oregon, is a great venue for marine life enthusiasts to check out.

5. The Cascades Raptor Center

The Cascades Raptor Center in Eugene, Oregon, is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to the rehabilitation and release of injured and orphaned birds of prey. 

The center features several aviaries where visitors can view the birds up close and cares for over 150 birds of prey, including eagles, hawks, owls, falcons, and vultures. 

As a result, visitors can see these birds up close in the aviaries and learn about their natural history, habitat, and diet. 

The Cascades Raptor Center also has a number of educational programs, including tours, presentations, and bird-related activities that are suitable for all ages.

For instance, visitors will learn about the critical role that birds of prey perform in our ecosystem. 

All in all, Cascades Raptor Center is a fantastic place for bird lovers, school field trips, and nature enthusiasts in general. 

6. Hatfield Marine Science Center

The Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, Oregon, is a marine research, education, and outreach facility.

This facility provides a variety of educational programs for all ages, including tours, presentations, and hands-on activities that focus on marine science and conservation.

In fact, several exhibits highlight the marine life and habitats of the Pacific Northwest.

For instance, exhibits include a touch tank where visitors can learn about and touch marine organisms such as sea stars, sea anemones, and urchins. 

Best of all, admission to the Hatfield Marine Science Center is free, which makes it an excellent option for school field trips.

7. Seaside Aquarium

The Seaside Aquarium in Seaside, Oregon, is a small public aquarium located on the Oregon coast.

This aquarium features a variety of marine life native to the Pacific Northwest while showcasing the marine life in the natural habitats of the region.

For example, some of the marine life that you will find at the Seaside Aquarium include invertebrates and marine mammals.

Furthermore, the Seaside Aquarium features a touch tank where visitors can both touch and learn about local sea creatures like starfish, anemones, and sea urchins. 

Along with its vast array of sea creatures, the Seaside Aquarium houses a number of marine mammals like seals and sea lions which are a major draw for visitors. 

All in all, the Seaside Aquarium is an excellent place for visitors from all spectrums to discover new facts about marine life as it exists in the Pacific Northwest.

8. West Coast Game Park Safari 

Originally opening its doors in 1968, the West Coast Game Park Safari in Bandon, Oregon, is a wildlife safari park that features an array of exotic and domestic animals. 

What makes this park unique is that it offers drive-through and walk-through tours, allowing visitors to see and interact with the animals in a natural setting. 

In fact, visitors are even encouraged to feed some of the animals, which is pretty uncommon in these types of settings.

When you visit the West Coast Game Park Safari, you can expect to see tigers, bears, lions, and primates, among other inhabitants.

The West Coast Game Park Safari is an ideal setting for a school field trip as the park has a number of educational programs and presentations that focus on animal conservation and behavior, as well as tours of the animal enclosures.

9. Sea Lion Caves 

Located 11 miles north of Florence, Oregon, on U.S. Highway 101, Sea Lion Caves is an actual sea cave. 

In fact, this home to a colony of Steller sea lions is the biggest sea cave in the world. 

The sea cave is a natural wonder that emerged due to the erosion of the basalt cliffs.

Today, the cave’s natural acoustics allow sea lions’ barking and bellowing sounds to ring loud and clear.

Without the visual element, these sounds of nature can be quite an experience.

While the cave is accessible by elevator, visitors can watch the sea lions from an observation deck all year. 

During your Sea Lion Caves visit, you are sure to capture a memorable experience that can only be delivered by this amazing natural exhibit.  

10. Charleston Marine Life Center

The Charleston Marine Life Center is a small museum/aquarium on the University of Oregon campus. 

It features five different exhibit galleries, with each gallery focusing on a specific aspect of marine life. 

Aside from the numerous marine specimens at the Charleston Marine Life Center, there are also some fun interactive demonstrations.

For example, the Marine Mammal Gallery features complete skeletons of orcas and sea otters. 

Additionally, the Charleston Marine Life Center offers multiple touch tanks filled with anemones and other sea life, allowing its visitors to get a taste of sea life.

To further satisfy your curiosity about marine life, the Charleston Marine Life Center boasts a slew of interactive exhibits, including a working undersea robot vehicle. 

11. Siletz Bay National Wildlife Refuge

Siletz Bay National Wildlife Refuge is a protected area located just south of Lincoln City, Oregon. 

In fact, the Siletz Bay National Wildlife Refuge is just one of six National Wildlife Refuges on the Oregon Coast, and it is managed and monitored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

During your visit refuge, you will see that the refuge encompasses a mixture of habitats, including freshwater, coniferous forestland, brackish marsh, and upland forest habitat. 

However, one of the more scenic areas on the refuge is the Alder Island Nature Trail. 

The Alder Island Nature Trail is a short loop hike along the Siletz River that showcases a beautiful forest of alder trees.

During your hike, you will see several birds, including eagles, brown pelicans, raptors, and other species.

Additionally, the Siletz Bay National Wildlife Refuge offers guided tours and educational programs so that visitors can learn more about the wildlife and habitats which populate this breathtaking space.

11 Best Zoos & Aquariums in Oregon – Summary Table

Zoos & AquariumsAddress
Oregon Zoo4001 SW Canyon Rd, Portland, OR 97221, USA
Oregon Coast Aquarium2820 SE Ferry Slip Rd, Newport, OR 97365, USA
Newport Discovery Zoo3101 SE Ferry Slip Rd, Newport, OR 97365, USA
Aquarium of the Bay2820 SE Ferry Slip Rd, Newport, OR 97365, USA
The Cascades Raptor Center32275 Fox Hollow Rd, Eugene, OR 97405, USA
Hatfield Marine Science Center2030 SE Marine Science Dr, Newport, OR 97365, USA
Seaside Aquarium200 N Prom, Seaside, OR 97138, USA
West Coast Game Park Safari 46914 US-101, Bandon, OR 97411, USA
Sea Lion Caves 91560 US-101, Florence, OR 97439, USA
Charleston Marine Life Center63466 Boat Basin Rd, Coos Bay, OR 97420, USA
Siletz Bay National Wildlife RefugeLincoln City, OR 97367, USA

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Frequently Asked Questions

Does the state of Oregon have a resource page for tourists?

Yes, the official website of Oregon tourism is called “Travel Oregon.”

Simply type “Travel Oregon” in Google, and it should be the first result.

When is the best time of year to visit Oregon?

If you are planning to visit zoos and aquariums, then the summer months of June to August are ideal because the weather is warm and dry.

Which Oregon cities have the best variety of zoos and aquariums?

  • Portland
  • Newport
  • Salem
  • Eugene
  • Bend

As a tourist, what is the best method of transportation in Oregon?

Car rental is a great option if you want to explore different cities in the state.

However, if you are staying in a bigger city like Bend, Eugene, or Portland and plan to stay in that specific city, public transportation is a great option.

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