Zoo New England - The Franklin Park Zoo - Boston, MA

Zoo New England is one of 2 zoos located near Boston. The 72 acre zoo is one of the largest in New England. It opened in 1912, making it Boston’s oldest zoo. When it first opened, the first official exhibits were an aviary and bear dens. The bear dens used to be a major attraction until zoo management changed in 1958. Today, it’s a strange experience to explore this now desolate area of the zoo – definitely a step back in time. Today, you can explore these abandoned bear dens. Read more about the history of the zoo.

Visiting Zoo New England

Although it isn’t the best zoo in the country (in my opinion that award goes to Brookfield near Chicago), it’s a decent way to spend a nice summer afternoon (just be sure to avoid super busy free days!). Despite a lack of diversity (no bears, penguins, or dolphins) and tiny animal enclosures, a visit to Zoo New England is still your typical zoo experience. Here you will enjoy a nice stroll through landscaped grounds and get an up close look at some of your favorite animals.

Honestly, I was a bit surprised at how small this zoo was being located in a major city. We walked around the whole zoo in about an hour. I am used to spending at least half a day at the zoo! This could be a good or bad thing depending on how much exercise you are willing to do. Franklin Park Zoo’s overall look was a bit run down – not enough landscaping, nowhere nice to picnic, and too many chain link fences instead of nice enclosures. I would say it is in need of a restoration!

Flamingos at Franklin Park Zoo - Boston, MA

However, you will still find several nice exhibits including a pretty cool butterfly exhibit where you will enjoy plenty of nice photo opportunities. And the close up Tiger exhibit was also fantastic! Overall, enjoy the zoo as a nice add on activity during your trip to Boston. Don’t come to Boston solely for a zoo trip; you are bound to be dissapointed. Save your zoo trip for another city like Chicago or San Diego.

A brief tour around Franklin Park Zoo

The Butterfly exhibit..

Orange butterfly at Franklin Park Zoo - Boston, MA
Black butterfly at Franklin Park Zoo - Franklin, MA
Butterfly on flower - Franklin Park Zoo - Boston, MA
Butterfly at Franklin Park Zoo exhibit - Boston, MA

We spotted a beautiful blue peacock walking around the zoo…

Peacock at Franklin Park Zoo - Boston, MA

The zoo houses a large Bird House – if you are a bird lover you will be pleased…

Bird House at Franklin Park Zoo - Boston, MA

Loved the giraffe exhibit!

Giraffe at Franklin Park Zoo in Boston, MA
Giraffes at Franklin Park Zoo in Boston, MA
Giraffes at Franklin Park Zoo in Boston, MA

I was disappointed in the indoor Gorilla exhibit…maybe I’m too used to the fabulous “Tropic World” at Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo!

Gorilla at Franklin Park Zoo in Boston, MA

The tiger exhibit had a long line, but was worth it for the extraordinary up close views!

Tiger at Franklin Park Zoo in Boston, MA

Overall, this zoo doesn’t rank at the top nor bottom of my list in terms of zoos I have visited: I would say it’s your average zoo experience. If you live in the area, I would recommend checking out a discount pass at a local library as the Franklin Park Zoo isn’t quite worth the $23 per person they charge per person for admission. And tourists will likely be more pleased with Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence.

Address: 1 Franklin Park Rd. Boston, MA 02121
Hours: Varies by season (check the website).

Pricing info and special events