Who doesn't love going to the zoo. After all, walking through cages full of lions, elephants, and giraffes is one of the great American past-times, something anyone, of any age, can enjoy.

However, with that being said, some zoos are definitely better than others. From superior facilities to more animals, to better food, there's just something that sets certain zoo-going experiences apart. Which is why we have listed, below, the five best zoos in the country, places to consider visiting with your family and friends for a truly exemplary animal-watching experience. 

5. Bronx Zoo

By far the biggest zoo in New York, the Bronx Zoo gets extra points for being unbelievably urban. Indeed, no one would know that the African plains or Himalayan Mountains of the zoo's exhibition spaces were just a quick subway trip away from the country's largest city. And yet, the 4,5000 animals of the Bronx Zoo are there, reminding New Yorkers just how crazy the real jungle can be.

4. St. Louis Zoo

Another perennial favorite, the St. Louis Zoo is one of the most diverse and extravagant in the world. Pulling 20,000 animals from 650 species, expect to see some of your favorites in their top form, including lions, tigers, and a variety of different bears - oh my! Plus, for the more aquatically inclined, the zoo offers a glass, 35-foot sea-lion observation tunnel, one of the only places in the world where you can really see marine life in its natural environment and just another reason St. Louis gets top marks.

3. Lincoln Park Zoo

One of the most spacious places in the city, Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo is sprawled out over 45 acres. However, all of that is not just empty space. On the contrary, the 1,250 animal residents in all of the different wildlife exhibits keep visitors quite content as they walk from place to place. And, if you like history with your nature-observation, the Lincoln Park Zoo also has something to offer you: founded in 1868, the zoo is one of the oldest in the country, replete with a number of fun historical factoids around every corner.

2. Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Part of a 588 acre complex, the Columbus Zoo really is the full package, sharing space with an amusement park, a water park, and a golf course. But that doesn't mean that they shirk on the animals. On the contrary, the Columbus Zoo has some of the most elaborate enclosures in the country, including a 50-acre replica of the Serengeti. That, in combination with its other world-renowned exhibits (including the largest manatee habitat outside of Florida) makes The Columbus Zoo a sure-fire contender for one of the best zoos in the world.

1. San Diego Zoo  

However, the number one spot is reserved for something a little more iconic. Indeed, the San Diego Zoo has become more than just a place to go to visit animals: it's its own little tropical paradise. Complete with 4,000 individual animals, a guided bus tour, and over one-million individual plants (enough to have it named an official United States Botanical Garden) the San Diego Zoo has a little something for everyone. That, in combination with collections of some of the rarest and most interesting species in the world (including the Giant Panda and the unforgettable Okapi) confirms its spot as the best zoo in the country, and a place that should remain at the top of any true nature-lovers bucket-list.