Parking is incredibly expensive ($22 flat fee) so take the metro if you can. It is smack dab in the middle of Woodley Park Station and Cleveland Park Station in Washington, D.C.
Photo Spot Details
This is probably the closest you’ll get to wildlife that is not bear or deer in the DMV area. I took all of these photos with a 70-200 mm f/4L lens and even with the lens wide open, I still found myself having to shoot above ISO 800. If you have a fast lens with lens stabilization, you’ll have a much easier time getting tack sharp focus with less noise. Or you could be just a better photographer than I am.
Also the animals are surprisingly far away so I had to heavily crop the photos to fill the frame. With a crop sensor camera, I had a hard time filling the frame with larger animals like tigers. I would recommend bringing a lens longer than 300 mm. I was desperately wishing I had a 400 or a 500 mm lens.
You are welcome to bring a tripod here but I found it a bit inconvenient to set up just because of foot traffic. Considering that I went on a Wednesday afternoon, I imagine there are even more people on the weekends.
Aside from the indoor exhibits, the area is open and covered relatively well with trees. Although you get nice shadows, I would recommend wearing a large hat to cover yourself from the intense sunlight, especially on a summer day. Bring plenty of fluid to drink as well.