Lions, tigers, and giant desert tortoises—oh, my! The Phoenix Zoo (455 N. Galvin Pkwy., 602/273-1341, www.phoenixzoo.org , 9 a.m.–5 p.m. daily, $16 adults, $6 children 2–17) is one of the nation’s largest privately owned zoological parks, with some 1,300 birds, slithering reptiles, and furry mammals from around the world.
You’ll find classic animal habitats with elephants, zebras, and playful orangutans, but it’s the newer exhibits that are blurring the boundaries of the animal kingdom, like Monkey Village, where visitors can walk through a cageless enclosure where a dozen squirrel monkeys hop from tree to tree.
For an extra $3, you can plunge your hand into Stingray Bay and feed a school of small sharks and stingrays. Or set your little ones free in Yakulla Caverns to explore the geologically themed water park’s dripping stalactites and refreshing waterfalls. June through September, the Phoenix Zoo is open weekdays 7 a.m.–2 p.m., and until 4 p.m. on weekends.