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Fort Worth, Texas is a large city with a laid-back, family-friendly, small town feel. And it is the perfect location for a family vacation. One of the gems of Fort Worth is the zoo. It is consistently ranked as one of the top 10 zoos in America. If you visit Fort Worth with kids, you must go to the zoo. This is my review of Fort Worth Zoo.
The Fort Worth Zoo is located in the heart of the city. It is nestled into a small area between the TCU campus on one side and the trendy 7th Street area on the other. It is also just a stone’s throw away from downtown Fort Worth and the popular Magnolia neighborhood. This makes its location extremely convenient to get to. It is also super easy to get to restaurants and hotels after your visit.
The zoo has its own parking lot right in front of the entrance. During busy times, like Spring Break and summer, this parking lot will fill up pretty early in the day. When this happens, the zoo opens up overflow parking across the street from the entrance. When the overflow parking lot fills, as it sometimes does, zoo employees and Fort Worth police officers will direct cars to additional parking down the street from the zoo. Parking in the primary lot will cost you $5 per car. If you must park in the overflow parking, you can park for free.
The good news about parking: finding a parking spot at the zoo, even on the busiest days, should be no problem. The bad news is that if you get there during late morning or early afternoon on a busy day, you will probably have to walk a bit to get to the entrance, but at least it will be free!
Tip: Get to the zoo a little before opening in order to park without much of a walk.
Hours of Operation and Price of Admission
- The Fort Worth Zoo is open 365 days per year.
- From early March through early July, the zoo is open from 10 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday and 10 am to 6 pm on Saturdays and Sundays.
- Early July to late October, the daily hours of operation are 10 am to 5 pm.
- From late October to early March, the zoo is open each day from 10 am to 4 pm.
- On Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day, the zoo is only open from noon to 4 pm. All dining, retail, and attraction locations are closed, but you can enter the zoo to see the animals.
- Admission is $14 for individuals age 13 and over, $10 for senior citizens and children ages 3-12. Toddlers under the age of 3 are free.
- Wednesdays are half-priced admission days at the zoo.
I love that the zoo is open every day. This means that the animals will be ready to see you whenever you go. While a trip to the Fort Worth Zoo is always fun, try going on an unexpected day, like during Christmas week. Another great time to visit the zoo is when the weather is on the cooler side. The crowds will be virtually nonexistent on these days and the animals tend to be more active when it is not as hot. We love visiting the zoo on these days!
You will see all of the expected animals such as giraffes, elephants, tigers, lions, and zebras at the Fort Worth Zoo. However, the two most popular exhibits are Texas Wild, which showcases animals native to Texas and the Museum of Living Art (MOLA), which is the zoo’s state of the art reptile, fish, and amphibian exhibit. They also have a primate house and a large exhibit that features various birds of prey. Additionally, the zoo houses three species of flamingos. Kids will love Parrot Paradise, where you can buy sticks of bird feed for $3 per stick and feed the parrots and parakeets inside an aviary.
The animal exhibits are all cleverly designed to give you the best views of the animals. The only real exception to this is the hippos exhibit, which is difficult to see into especially for kids. This isn’t helped by the fact that the hippos tend to stay under the water most of the time.
The Fort Worth Zoo has several entertainment options to experience during your visit. In the Outdoor Learning Theater, a cute little stage show occurs multiple times a day which gives you an up-close look at some of the animals in their outreach collection. Kids will enjoy this show. Additionally, throughout the zoo, they have zoo keeper talks at various times. Each of these talks focuses on a specific breed of animal giving you more in-depth information and allowing you to ask questions.
The zoo also offers a petting zoo, shooting gallery, and play barn in the Texas Wild section. For an additional charge, you can ride the Yellow Rose Express Train or Country Carousel or try to climb the Tasmanian Tower. In the summer, the zoo offers a zero-entry splash pad for the kids. It is $5 per person in addition to your zoo admission. This is our favorite splash pad in all of Fort Worth.
Tip: The number of people allowed in the splash pad is limited, so head there early in your day.
The zoo offers multiple special events throughout the year. The zoo celebrates Halloween with its annual Boo at the Zoo. In June, the zoo hosts Beastro, an adults-only event that is part food tasting, part concert. The zoo also has a Mother’s Day brunch, 5K run, and other events. Additionally, you can have birthday parties or other events at the zoo. Check the zoo’s website for more information on any of the special events.
We have attended several of these special events. They are all fantastic! The zoo does a great job hosting these unique events.
There are numerous places within the zoo to buy food. In addition to several zoo-owned places, you will also find chain restaurants such as Pizza Hut, Dickey’s Barbecue, and Burger King. You can get everything from burgers to chicken to hot dogs. There are also a lot of snack locations throughout the zoo, including a candy store and an ice cream parlor. Crocodile Cafe is a food court located next to MOLA. While it gets quite busy at times, it is one of my favorite places to eat at the zoo. Two walls of the seating area are glass and look out onto saltwater crocodiles, fish, and turtles.
The zoo will also allow you to bring in your own food. They have several picnic areas with plenty of shade. Straws, glass containers, and alcoholic beverages are strictly prohibited, however.
You will find several gift shops scattered throughout the zoo. The main one is located right at the entrance to the zoo. During busy times, the zoo also sets up souvenir carts. If you need an umbrella, ponchos, sunscreen, or other necessities during your visit, you can find them at any of the gift shops.
You can rent strollers as well. You will find the stroller rental on your right once you enter the zoo and cross the bridge.
The Fort Worth Zoo is one of the nation’s top zoos and one of Fort Worth’s best attractions for families. It is a wonderfully laid-out zoo with pleasant exhibits and tons of entertainment options to keep you and your kids busy all day. In the summer, the kids can cool off at the zoo’s own splash pad. If you visit Fort Worth with your kids, you need to go to the zoo. You won’t regret it. I hope you enjoyed this review of Fort Worth Zoo. For recommendations on where to eat in Fort Worth, see my best restaurants for families. For more ideas of things to do, see experiencing Fort Worth with kids. Happy travels!