Brandywine Zoo, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. daily, 1001 North Park Drive, Wilmington, Del., (302) 571-7747, www.brandywinezoo.org, $5, seniors and children $4, kids under age 2 free. Specializing in animals native to the Americas and the temperate areas of Asia, such as Siberian tigers and river otters, there's something for everyone in the family among the 120 animals representing 56 species on 12 acres.
Catoctin Wildlife Preserve and Zoo, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. daily, 13019 Catoctin Furnace Road, Thurmont, (301) 271-3180, www.cwpzoo.com, $12.95, seniors and military $11.95, ages 2-11 $8.95, kids under age 2 free. Are your tykes just wild about animals? They can't bear leaving the house without a stuffed one? Give them the chance to show their animal attraction to a couple cougars, llamas, tortoises, and zebras. Also, the easiest way to trek through 25 acres of wildlife, the FuFeFo Safari Ride, opens in July. FuFeFo? Don't ask us, we just write here.
Leesburg Animal Park, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 19270 James Monroe Highway, Leesburg, Va.,(703) 433-0002, www.leesburganimalpark.com, $9.95, kids and seniors $7.95, kids ages 2 and under free. Get up close and personal with exotic animals in a natural environment and keep it educational with Keeper's Corner, an encounter with a park guide (ha) and a different creature each day. Starting this summer, catch camel rides on Fridays and Saturdays or for plain Janes and boring Brians, pony rides.
Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. daily, Druid Hill Park, (410) 366-5466, www.marylandzoo.org, $15, seniors $12, ages 2-11 $10, kids under age 2 free. Last time we went to the zoo, all we saw was a bunch of cicadas. Thank goodness that's over. Now you can visit a snowy owl, polar bears, and an arctic fox--might add a chill to beat the summer heat.
National Aviary, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, Allegheny Commons West, Pittsburgh, Pa., (412) 323-7235, www.aviary.org, $8, seniors $7, ages 2-12 $6.50, kids under age 2 free. Ruffle your little one's feathers with 600 exotic and endangered birds. Discover interactive adventures like the Penguin Connection where he or she can meet a penguin face-to-beak in an hour-long up-close small group setting.
National Zoo, 6 a.m.-8 p.m. daily, 3001 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, (202) 673-4800, www.nationalzoo.si.edu/default.cfm, free. You name it, this zoo has got it. The National is literally a living dictionary of animal names. See if you and your buds can find an animal in the zoo for every letter in the alphabet--a challenge but possible.
Philadelphia Zoo, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, corner of 34th Street and Girard Avenue, Philadelphia, Pa., (215) 243-1100, www.philadelphiazoo.org, $26.95, ages 2-11 $23.95, ages under 2 free. The word on the street is this zoo is the best around. Have a visit and see if you agree. When your ticket price includes a ride in a Zooballoon 400 feet above the giraffes and zebras, you are a pretty tough contender.
Salisbury Zoological Park, 8 a.m.-7:30 p.m. daily, 755 S. Park Drive, Salisbury, (410) 548-3188, www.salisburyzoo.org, free. The Salisbury's tad different from ordinary zoos because of it's park-like setting. During your visit, maybe your family could adopt a zoo "pet."
Virginia Safari Park, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. daily, 229 Safari Lane, Natural Bridge, Va., (540) 291-3205, www.virginiasafaripark.com, $12, seniors $11, children $8, kids age under 3 free. Take a spin around Virginia's one and only drive-through zoo and your gang can pretend to be Africa for a day, on safari. Plus, for once, the staff is asking you to feed the animals. No cages, no bars, just a bunch of animals roaming free and happily. And if they feel like it, they're going to block your path and lie flat-out in the sun, but that's half the fun.
Virginia Zoological Park, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, 3500 Granby St., Norfolk, Va., (757) 441-2706, www.virginiazoo.org, $7, seniors $6, kids ages 2-11 $5. Hercules the one- humped camel is the newest addition to the VZP. He joins the white rhino, rock hyrax, pancake tortoise, and eastern bongo, all waiting for your visit. Not in the same cage, you silly ninny.
812 Park Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21201