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Zoos are a wonderful way for families to spend time together, whether it’s at home or while traveling. The Phoenix Zoo is no exception. This is a large zoo with a wide variety of animals and things to do. Here is everything you need to know in order to have the best day ever with your kids at the Phoenix Zoo.
We visited the Phoenix Zoo on our first family trip to the city. During our trip, we spent several hours there and still didn’t get to see it all! We thoroughly enjoyed our time at the zoo.
The Phoenix Zoo has over 3000 animals and 400 species. So, you are sure to find some of your favorites. And you may discover one or two new ones.
They have all the animals you would expect to find in a zoo including:
- komodo dragons
You will also find some more unusual animals here as well. Some of these are:
- Dalmatian pelicans
- golden eagles
- Mexican gray wolves
- golden lion tamarins
- Andean bears
Many of the animals are housed along themed trails so you can see animals that have something in common all side by side.
The Tropics Trail includes a tropical bird aviary and Monkey Village. As you walk along the Arizona Trail, you will discover animals native to the state, such as the coyote, Sonoran pronghorn, bobcat, and mountain lion.
The Children’s Trail showcases smaller animals, traditional farm animals, and a petting zoo. On the Africa Trail, you will spot baboons, ostrich, gazelles, mandrills, and African painted dogs.
Additional Entertainment Options
Like all of the best zoos, the Phoenix Zoo offers a variety of things to do in addition to just viewing the animals. These things will help to round out your day at the zoo and keep your kids engaged and excited the whole time.
The zoo offers animal presentations where you can learn about their animal ambassadors and their natural behaviors by watching a show where the animals are the stars.
You can also get up close with several species in a more hands on way. First, head over to Monkey Village to experience the country’s only walk through squirrel monkey exhibit. And your kids will love the chance to interact with farm animals such as cows, sheep, turkeys, and goats at Harmony Farm.
Want to feed an animal? At the Phoenix Zoo, you can feed the giraffes or head over to Stingray Bay to feel and feed the stingrays! There is an additional charge for these experiences.
Almost all kids love rides. And when it comes to rides, the Phoenix Zoo doesn’t disappoint. You have several rides to choose from during your day at the zoo.
First, your kids will enjoy riding the Endangered Species Carousel. Each animal on the carousel is unique. You will have to pay $3 to ride.
Want a more authentic experience? Take a camel ride! And you can even get your photo taken! This will cost you $7 per rider.
Looking for a ride the whole family can enjoy? Hop on the Safari Cruiser for a 25 minute tour through a large portion of the zoo. The tours are $6, but children 2 and under are free.
For a more in-depth and personal experience, a tour or backstage experience may be perfect for you. These adventures are limited to small groups, must be booked in advance, and last 30 minutes or more. Some of the tours are focused on one species, while others showcase a variety of animals.
The price for these experiences vary, depending on which one you choose. They range from $80 per adult ($69 per child age 3-13) and up.
Sometimes, you just need to give your kids a chance to run and play to burn off some of their endless energy. There are several playgrounds throughout the zoo that are perfect for this.
The Enchanted Forest, located near the carousel, features tree trunk slides and a trickling river that create a perfect natural playground for your little ones to explore.
At Discovery Farm, your kids can become farmers as they scamper around the farm themed playground, complete with a tyke-sized barn and silo slide. This is a great spot for kids up to age 5.
If you are looking for a way to beat the desert heat while at the Phoenix Zoo, there are a couple of splash pads so you can get wet while having fun. Leapin’ Lagoon is geared towards babies and toddlers, while Yakulla Caverns is designed for kids 5 and older.
Shopping and Dining
At the front of the zoo, you will spot Desert Marketplace Gift Shop. This is the perfect place to pick up that awesome souvenir to remember your day at the zoo.
If you want, you are allowed to bring your own food and coolers into the zoo with you. This is a great option if you are on a budget.
If you prefer to pick up some food and drink at the Phoenix Zoo, check out one of these dining locations:
- Crossroads Cafe offers quesadillas, burritos, and salads.
- Farm Cafe sells hot dogs, ice cream, and other snacks.
- Jungle Java serves coffee and breakfast items, such as pastries and breakfast burritos.
- Keg Corner and Lakeside Lounge feature craft beers.
- Kettle Korner has kettle corn and churros.
- Safari Snacks sells hot dogs, frozen treats, and other snacks
- Savanna Grill offers burgers, hot dogs, salads, chicken tenders, and ice cream.
- Sunset Treats serves pretzels, popcorn, and frozen treats.
Prices and Hours
Admission to the Phoenix Zoo is $29.95 for adults (14+) and $19.95 for kids (age 3-13).
The zoo is open during the summer from 7 am until 1 pm. Later in the year, when the weather isn’t quite so hot, the hours are longer. For more details and directions, check out the zoo’s website.
Tips for Maximizing Your Time
To make the most of your time at the Phoenix Zoo, here are some tips:
- Don’t forget the sunscreen! It will probably be hot and sunny during your visit. You don’t want to end up sunburnt!
- Stay hydrated. Remember, you are in the desert. You will need to make sure you and your kids drink plenty of water while you are exploring the zoo.
- Get there early. Get a jump on the crowds and enjoy the cooler temperatures by getting to the zoo as early as possible.
- Bypass the crowds by buying your tickets online before you arrive.
- Take time to rest. The Phoenix Zoo is huge and you will be doing a lot of walking. Take a break every now and then to prevent wearing out your family.
- Don’t forget your camera so you can capture all those cute moments of your family.
- Periodically check a map to make sure you don’t miss any of the fun!
The Phoenix Zoo is a fun and affordable activity for families to do while visiting the city. You can easily spend an entire day here. The above information and tips will help you to maximize your time so you can have the best day possible at the Phoenix Zoo.
Start your day of exploring off right with breakfast at Matt’s Big Breakfast or Snooze, an AM Eatery!
For tips on traveling with kids, see our ultimate guide to happy travel with kids and how to help your kids wait in line.
P.S. Need help finding the best places to go on your family vacations? My Ultimate USA Bucket List for Families will instantly give you 60 of the best vacation destinations for families in the United States! Get it for FREE in the box below and start planning your next trip today! Plus, as a bonus, you will receive my weekly email newsletter full of family trip tips and inspiration!
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