A Wild Guide to the 10 Best Zoos in Florida!
A Wild Guide to the 10 Best Zoos in Florida!
With so many things to do in Florida, finding a family-friendly option that everyone will enjoy is never a struggle. But when you’re looking to switch things up from the usual theme park or beach day, your selection widens and your decision gets a little bit harder!
The Best Zoo in Florida
Have no fear – from fishing piers in Florida to botanical gardens, there is truly something for everyone in every corner of the Sunshine State. If you’re looking for something out of the box to do with your family, consider spending the day at your local zoo! Did you know that the term zoo is short for “zoological park” which refers to zoology – the study of the behavior and classification of animals. As much as zoos are about entertainment and enjoyment, they are also about conservation, research, and educating the public on each of the unique animals that they care for. From Miami to Jacksonville, here are the 10 Best Zoos in Florida!
1 | Gatorland | A staple of Central Florida, Gatorland allows you to get up close and personal with the tippy-top of the food chain and the feistiest of Florida residents – alligators! The 110-acre preserve and park is home to over 2,000 gators of all different varieties, including rare leucistic and albino alligators. Watch on in awe as one of their expert gator-wranglers tests their strength against an 8-10 foot gator in their Legends of the Swamp show. In addition to being the “Alligator Capital of the World” Gatorland is home to a free-flight aviary, petting zoo, wild cats, critters, and much more. A leader in alligator safety and education, you’ll no doubt leave the park with a newfound understanding and appreciation for these ancient predators!
WHERE: 14501 S Orange Blossom Trail, Orlando, FL 32837 | WHO: 407-855-5496
2 | Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens | Conservation is top of mind at Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens – the zoo donates a portion of every single ticket and membership sold to conservation efforts! They support over 45 conservation programs around the country and around the world and have donated over $1.75 million in the last 6 years. At the zoo, explore the stunning grounds as you learn about the 2,000 animals and 1,000 plants that call the zoo home. Exhibits include the African Forest, River Valley Aviary, Giraffe Overlook, Stingray Bay, Australian Adventure, and Land of the Tiger. If you’re a true animal lover and always find yourself coming back for more, consider purchasing one of their zoo memberships – the unlimited membership pays for itself in just three visits!
WHERE: 370 Zoo Pkwy, Jacksonville, FL 32218 | WHO: 904-757-4463
3 | Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens | Located just north of Orlando in Sanford, Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens showcases some of the most rare and endangered species on the planet. Breaking down their exhibits into five categories, here you can expect to see amphibians, birds, invertebrates, mammals, and reptiles – from the tiniest poison dart frog to their tallest giraffe and everything in between. Get up close and personal with their rhino encounters, petting zoo, or giraffe feeding, then take a break from admiring the animals to cool down at their splash pad or soar through the air on their zip line. End the day strolling through their botanical gardens, taking in the breathtaking display of flora, butterflies, hummingbirds, and more.
WHERE: 3755 W Seminole Blvd, Sanford, FL 32771 | WHO: 407-323-4450
4 | Lion Country Safari | This unique drive-through safari park, located just outside of West Palm Beach, lets you admire over 90 different species of animals right from your car. Not a cage or enclosure in site, their animals roam freely in wide-open (but secure) natural habitats. Imagine a herd of zebras, giraffes, rhinos, or lions crossing the road right in front of you! The regular cost of admission includes unlimited trips through their 4-mile drive-through preserve as well as admission into their walk-through Safari World adventure park. A huge plus? While it’s usually a huge downer when it starts to rain during your visit to the zoo, Lion Country Safari claims that its actually the best time to drive through their park, as many of their animals are more active during cool, rainy weather. You’ll stay nice and dry in the comfort of your vehicle and the animals will be out and about in full force.
WHERE: 2003 Lion Country Safari Rd, Loxahatchee, FL 33470 | WHO: 561-793-1084
5 | Brevard Zoo | A day at Brevard Zoo is bound to be an adventure like no other! They pride themselves on being “a small zoo that does BIG things!” In addition to their many animal exhibits, Brevard Zoo offers guests the unique opportunity to enjoy a guided kayak tour for just $10 a person. You’ll feel like you’re in Africa as you float down the river past herds of giraffe, rhinos, and more. They also have a train experience that will transport you from the “Cape to Cairo” in 10 minutes flat! Gaze at African cattle and camels as you feel the breeze of the open-air train in your hair.
WHERE: 8225 N Wickham Rd, Melbourne, FL 32940 | WHO: 321-254-9453
6 | Wild Florida | Wild Florida is truly that…a wild, immersive, animal experience showcasing the best of Florida wildlife and beyond. Located just southeast of Orlando in Kenansville, Wild Florida offers airboat rides, a drive-thru safari park, a walk-thru alligator park, and several animal encounters, allowing you to really get in touch with your wild side. As you walk through their park, you’ll be greeted with albino alligators and Florida panthers before making your way to Crusher…their largest and most ferocious Gator. Crusher is 65 years old and over 13 feet long, requiring his own enclosure. Catch the Crusher Show at 11 am or 3:45 pm, or hang out by the Gator Bridge at 11:30 am or 3 pm for the feeding show, where some of their biggest and hungriest gators will jump straight out of the water for their food. After the thrill of watching the gators devour their dinner, slow things down at their popular (and adorable) sloth exhibit!
WHERE: 3301 Lake Cypress Rd, Kenansville, FL 34739 | WHO: 407-957-3135
7 | Palm Beach Zoo | Head down south to Palm Beach Zoo to enjoy a wide variety of wild animals that includes bald eagles, bears, tigers, jaguars, ocelots, peacocks, and more – oh my! To aid in education and conservation, they have kid-friendly field guides available for guests to download prior to their visit. Print them out or save and tree and download to your phone, then use the guide to identify and learn about different animals as you walk through the zoo.
WHERE: 1301 Summit Blvd, West Palm Beach, FL 33405 | WHO: 561-547-9453
8 | Zoo Miami | Encounter something amazing at Zoo Miami! For just $5 a pop you can feed giraffes in “Africa” or parrots in “Australia.” They even offer special VIP tour experiences that give you an up-close look at the animals and insider knowledge from their expert animal ambassadors. Out of the more than 3,000 animals and 500 species represented at Zoo Miami, over 130 of these species are endangered in the wild. They are fully accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), meaning they meet or exceed the AZA's standards for animal health, welfare, fundraising, zoo staffing, and involvement in global conservation efforts.
WHERE: 12400 SW 152nd St, Miami, FL 33177 | WHO: 305-251-0400
9 | ZooTampa at Lowry Park | ZooTampa at Lowry Park is a unique zoo experience with family-friendly rides and attractions, animal encounters, shows, and more. Visit their Florida Boardwalk and Manatee Mangrove to get a glimpse of these majestic and iconic Florida natives. Then, swing on by Primate World for some monkey business! ZooTampa is home to a variety of primates including Bornean orangutans, lemurs, mandrills, and Colobus monkeys. You can even upgrade your day with “backstage” experiences featuring photo opportunities with elephants, koalas, penguins, giraffes, and more! Be sure to check their website before your visit for their schedule of seasonal events.
WHERE: 1101 W Sligh Ave, Tampa, FL 33604 | WHO: 813-935-8552
10 | Sarasota Jungle Gardens | Get lost for the day in a dense jungle full of lush, tropical foliage and exotic creatures. This family-owned and operated gem on Florida’s Gulf Coast is sure to be a huge hit with the animal lovers in your family – in fact, they’ve been entertaining the masses since 1939. They are known for their friendly, free-roaming flamingos (say that five times fast!) who have no problem taking it upon themselves to greet guests as they enter the zoo. Other exhibits include species like alligators, parrots, lemurs, African porcupines, giant tortoises, Muntjac deer, birds of prey, and more. Check out their schedule of shows throughout the day to watch their expert zookeepers interact with the animals up close!
WHERE: 3701 Bay Shore Rd, Sarasota, FL 34234 | WHO: 941-355-5305
Use Our Map to Find Your Next Wild Adventure!
Use our super-sweet map guide below to make your way to all these fantastic Zoos around the state!
Final Tips on the Best Zoos in Florida!
As you can see, there is no shortage of options when it comes to zoos to visit across the great state of Florida. For true animal lovers, most zoos offer annual memberships. For a set cost, have unlimited access to the zoos and often admission to their special events throughout the year. Or, you can visit for just the day – a day you’re sure to remember forever!
Feeling ready to get in touch with your wild side – or looking to find more vacation ideas and insider tips about exciting destinations? Check out our Travel Blog!
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Westgate Resorts is in no way affiliated with the attractions featured in this article. Items or places listed are current as of the publishing date of this article. Please call or visit the respective website for the most up-to-date offerings and details.
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