Oregon Zoolights is a holiday event at the zoo where guests can look at over one million lights.
Zoolights Oregon Zoo

Oregon Zoo Lights

Each year the Oregon Zoo goes all out for Christmas and decorates everywhere. Everywhere you look are beautiful lights, making it the perfect place to take fun pictures with your family, especially the walk-through tunnel.
 
In past years there has been a train to take you around to see the lights, but this year the train was closed so we walked around. The zoo has it set up so you walk through certain parts, ensuring you see all the lights. I found this to be a much better way to see the lights, it’s a walk-through wonderland with over 1.6 million twinkling lights. It turns out that about 90% of the lights are located along the walking paths. I doubt we even ride the train next year. Even though it was 30 degrees outside, we stayed warm walking around, much warmer than we ever did riding on the train! Oregon Zoo Lights
 
Zoolights Oregon Zoo

Fun useless fact: It was so much colder the next year all we wanted to do was ride the train for quicker viewing. They decorate the train now too.

Before you ride the train or walk around buy a hot chocolate. You can also opt to bring your own hot chocolate since they allow you to bring your own food and drink into the zoo. 

Zoolights Oregon Zoo

Despite being one of the most beloved holiday events in Portland, we’ve never experienced crowd issues. This past year they added live music, which was a nice touch.

If you visit earlier during the event on a weekday you typically pay $5 less for admission.

Zoolights Oregon ZooOregon is cold, be sure to check the weather the day you plan to attend ZooLights. Most likely you will need a heavy coat, gloves, and a hat. I know some that even wear their ski clothes!
Zoolights Oregon Zoo

Even though most of the animals are put up they still keep open the viewing areas. This means you can go see the elephants. We didn’t walk through the monkey/gorilla area, but I would guess that you could see them as well.

Zoolights Oregon Zoo

Cascade Grill at the Oregon Zoo

For the first time, we ate at the Cascade Grill, the restaurant that you can go to without having to pay for zoo admission. Normally this restaurant closes at 2 PM during the winter, but it stays open late just for ZooLights.

They have soup, salads, Sheppard’s pie, and kid’s meals. You order food at the counter and then find a seat and they bring your food to you. The food was surprisingly good and my kids think they have the best french fries in Portland and I would have to agree. You can get a coupon at the gate for a free kid’s meal.

Zoolights Oregon Zoo
Cascade Grill at the Oregon Zoo

Zoo members get free admission to ZooLights for everyone else it is $17.95 for adults and $12.95 for children. Seniors get a discount as do groups of 20 or more.

The Oregon zoo opens each day at 9:30 a.m., and ZooLights tickets are valid after 4 p.m. ZooLights hours are 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Value Night hours are 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. The grounds remain open for one hour after gates close.
Oregon ZooLights

The Oregon Zoo is located at 4001 SW Canyon Rd., Portland, Oregon 97231.