If your kids love animals and exploring then the Jacksonville Zoo is the place to go. Our family recently made several trips there and had discovered something new each time. We are a family that loves the outdoors and the kids are always fascinated by animals. That is why we basically visit every zoo we can get to. We always have a lot of fun checking out the various exhibits and cannot wait any longer to share our experiences with you.
The Jacksonville Zoo is a few hours drive from our home but we don’t mind making the trip. We have been several times this last year. We always pack a lunch to save a little money. The interstate can be a bit congested but getting there is easy enough. The thing the kids wanted to see more than anything was the Jaguar exhibit. With the Jaguars being the local NFL franchise it made sense that the Jacksonville Zoo would have this animal on display. Our friend wasn’t feeling up to it on this day but it was still awesome to get so close to such a good looking cat.
Great weekend getaway!
The great thing about zoos is that they are designed for kids and families. The Jacksonville Zoo takes this to the limit. They have several things in addition to the animals. There is the Splash Ground water play area, the Wildlife Carousel, Jungle vines to swing on, and a goat petting area. Family themed restrooms are also quite useful for visiting with small children. Not to mention the wide eyed discovery of the awesome zoo creatures!
Things to know about the Jacksonville Zoo
November is FREE admission for kids 12 and under with the purchase of an adult ticket! I’ll say it again, Jacksonville Zoo is FREE in November for kids!
Fort Frederica National Monument on St. Simons Island, Georgia, is within an hour of Jacksonville and it is FREE ADMISSION! If your family is vacationing in Jacksonville this would make for a great day trip from your base.
Scavenger hunt sheets are available for little kids and teens alike. It’s fun, you should try it. Download here and enjoy the hunt!
There is plenty of parking. Don’t fret. Parking is FREE!
There are no bathrooms outside the main gate. Go before you arrive. A long line may be a part of getting in and this could pose a problem for small kiddos.
We always pack lunches. Zoo prices for our family of six to eat can escalate quickly. The zoo does have some tasty treats. We have splurged on dippin’ dots on hot days.
Field Trips and Homeschool programs and deals are available.
There is a great playground right off the Garden Maze and Goat petting area.
You can take a train ride through the zoo for an additional fee.
College students can get $10 general admission tickets with college ID. This is a great deal!
We live withing a few hours so we did not stay in Jacksonville. However, being such a large city, Jacksonville has every imaginable restaurant and hotel possible. Even some rare finds.
If staying in Jacksonville, Florida for a few days. Consider spending a day at the Museum of Science and History, located in the heart of the city. MOSH, as it’s called, is a great place for kids to learn and play.
Pet the stingrays! It’s FREE and my kids thought it was the most amazing part of our visit!
Climb on an Elephant! No really, climb on. It isn’t a live elephant, so go for it!
If your family only visits one destination in the Atlanta area this year, Zoo Atlanta is the one. Kids love Zoos! My brood love seeing animals and creatures of all sorts. Zoos bring out the wonderment and discovery in every kid. That desire to learn about creatures is innate in all of us from birth and zoos give your children the opportunity to explore! You simply cannot go wrong with a trip to a zoo.
Great news! Children under 2 years old get in FREE! Additionally, Active duty military, veterans, military retirees, and reservists get in FREE too! However, the fine print says that you must have a military ID and that all other family members must pay regular price admission. I think this is an awesome offer. Now, zoo admission is somewhat pricey but not Orlando theme park expensive. Just be aware if you have a good size family. When you expect to be doing multiple destinations in Atlanta like the World of Coke, Fernbank Museum, or the College Football Hall of Fame, look into the Atlanta City Pass for deep discount. The memberships are where it’s at if you have more than 4 people in your family. We have six and it was actually cheaper to buy a Zoo membership than it was to pay for all of our individual admission prices. This way you save a few dollars and can come back for free within the year. We used the membership to go several times. I have found that buying a membership at several zoos, museums, and attractions that we have visited is indeed the best way to go. If you live in Georgia, your local library should have a Zoo Pass that you can check out for free! This pass gets a family of four into the zoo with no charge. CHECK IT OUT! LITERALLY!
Things to do
Bring towels and a Swimsuit! Zoo Atlanta has a great playground and a splash pad for the warmer months. There is a petting zoo, train ride, and rock climbing wall. There is an aerial ropes course as well. You can even pay to help feed the animals and take a behind the scenes tour. There is more to do than you can get to in a single day. Many of these extras are indeed additional costs to the regular admission fee.
Things to know before going
School groups will always come en mass. If school is in session, there will be field trips aplenty. If school is out then there will be Summer camps. It is just a part of the zoo marketing itself and just prepare for the groups sharing the space.
Concessions are adequate but they are pricey. If you don’t mind paying $4 for a hot dog and $8 for a small cup of Dippin Dots then you have no worries. We always packed lunches and brought our own food.
I always recommend the kids carry their own little day packs so that jackets, swim clothes, and lunches can be transported wherever they go. Otherwise mom and dad will have their hands full all day and with a family our size that can get old.
Bring water and drinks. It can get hot certainly, and you won’t have to pay high prices for a bottle of water.
Wear comfortable shoes. Walking around the zoo in flip flops or sandals is not recommended. Your feet will be sore at the end of a long day.
The zoo is where it’s at! Go on a weekday if you can swing it. Zoo Atlanta is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas. It may even close on the rare days that Atlanta gets severe weather, so plan ahead. Take your family to the zoo! Tell ’em we sent ya!