Boston, MA - 9/11/20: A welcome arch of butterflies and flowers made of traditional Chinese lanterns, spans the entry of the Franklin Park zoo for Boston Lights; Shutterstock ID 1824698471; your: Claire Naylor; gl: 65050; netsuite: Online Editorial; full: Boston POIs

Shutterstock / Keith J Finks

Franklin Park Zoo


Tucked into Franklin Park, the zoo features a half-dozen different habitats, as well as special exhibits devoted to birds and butterflies. The highlight is the well-designed Tropical Forest pavilion, complete with lush vegetation, waterfalls, lowland gorillas and over 30 species of free-flight birds. The Australian Outback Trail allows visitors to walk among red kangaroos and wallabies.

Several exhibits are devoted to life on the savannah, showcasing an African lion, as well as giraffes, zebras and wildebeests. The Franklin Farm lets kids get up close and personal with sheep and goats. In addition to the many animal exhibits, the zoo has a wild and wonderful 10,000-sq-ft playground.

Two women hold up their mobile phones to take photos of a large long-necked giraffe
Tickets to Franklin Park Zoo should be bought online in advance © Boston Globe via Getty Images

Tickets and other practical information

Timed-entry tickets should be bought in advance, although some day tickets are released intermittently. The zoo closes for Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, but is otherwise open year-round. Take bus 22, 28, 29 or 45 from Ruggles station. It's free to park at the zoo.

Boston Lights at the Zoo

Franklin Park Zoo plays host to Boston Lights: A Lantern Experience where the night sky is lit by many different hand-crafted lanterns. The displays show illuminated sunflowers and cherry blossoms, as well as a huge Tyrannosaurs Rex. The event runs every evening from July through to October, and tickets must be bought in advance

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Boston attractions

1. Franklin Park

0.51 MILES

Franklin Park, at 500-plus acres and part of the Emerald Necklace, is an underutilized resource – partly because it borders a sketchy neighborhood, and…

2. Forest Hills Cemetery

1.11 MILES

Dating from 1848, Forest Hills is a gorgeous, green cemetery that is filled with art and whimsy. It is still an active burial ground, but it also plays…

3. Arnold Arboretum

1.78 MILES

Under a public-private partnership with Harvard University, the 265-acre Arnold Arboretum is planted with over 15,000 exotic trees and flowering shrubs…

4. Olmsted Park

1.84 MILES

Part of the Emerald Necklace, Olmsted Park features a paved path that hugs the banks of Leverett Pond and Ward's Pond in Jamaica Plain.

5. MassArt Bakalar & Paine Galleries

2.21 MILES

MassArt is the country’s first and only four-year independent public art college. There's always some thought-provoking or sense-stimulating exhibits to…

6. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

2.34 MILES

Once home to Isabella Stewart Gardner, this splendid palazzo now houses her exquisite collection of art. The museum includes thousands of artistic objects…

7. Museum of Fine Arts

2.36 MILES

Founded in 1876, the Museum of Fine Arts is Boston's foremost art museum. The museum covers all parts of the globe and all eras, from the ancient world to…

8. Larz Anderson Auto Museum & Park

2.47 MILES

Larz and Isabel Anderson, a high-society couple, bought their first automobile in 1899: a Winton Runabout. It was the first of 32 autos that they would…