Kids’ Choice: 9 Best Zoos in Florida for Family Adventures

With so many hidden gems in Florida, zoos are one of the favorite places for parents to take their children to spend holidays. It’s the world of animals and birds.

You get the chance to get close to the giraffes, spot a rare giant panda, see a tiger, take a thrilling safari ride, or watch some colorful fishes swimming in the aquarium.

Best Zoos in Florida to Visit with Kids

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The Sunshine State has no limit! You can explore abandoned places, choose camping places in the Florida Keys, stop by the majestic castles, and so more.

When it comes to kids, I recommend taking them to explore the tide pools or experience the thrilling bungee jump. Florida has it all!

But for now, have you ever thought of walking around the zoological parks in Florida, then I would say you’re missing out on something.

Hence, from Orlando to Jacksonville, I bring a list of the best zoos in Florida.

Best Zoos in Florida

1. Gatorland

Address: 14501 S Orange Blossom Trl, Orlando, FL 32837, USA

A nursery class child is always taught that “C” stands for cat, but it can also stand for crocodile. Furthermore, one of the things Florida is known for is its alligators and crocodiles.

So, bring your child to Gatorland, the “Alligator Capital of the World” to show them crocodiles of all sizes – white leucistic alligators, an aviary, and varied reptiles.

Being a parent, I’m sure you’re very cautious about your child’s safety, here he can see alligators from a safe place without the fear of getting a bite. This 110-acre is home to over 2,500 replies.

Among families who want to skip theme parks, Gatorland is a great Central Florida attraction. For me, it is the best zoo in Orlando, they’ve got a petting zoo too

I’ll be very biased if I say Gatorland is home to only alligators. Animals like snakes, wild cats, birds, tortoises, and other habitats of endangered species live here too.

Highlights of Gatorland:

  • The night tour, famously known as Gator Night Shine where you can look at alligators with only flashlights. Bring gator snacks to feed them
  • They conduct rare reptile shows like the Swamp Show, Up-close Encounter Show, and Gator Jumparoo
  • Take your child on a tour on the Gatorland Express train to visit Gator Gully Splash Park. No wonder, why Screamin’ Gator Zip Line is famous among Floridians. Readers of Orlando Weekly rated it as – Number One zip line in Orlando
  • The Stompin’ Gator Off-road Adventure gives you the real taste of Florida pond with real alligators and wetlands to witness
  • If you love to take that dare, try Adventure Hour. Get close to some giant gators for clicking alligators. Be careful, man!
  • Go for Gator Wrestling Show, which enlightens you on the care involved in keeping natural habitats safe.

Note: Gatorland is the best reptile zoo in Florida

Gatorland
Gatorland

2. Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens

Address: 370 Zoo Pkwy, Jacksonville, FL 32218, USA

You know how much I’m in love with botanical gardens in Florida, and then when I heard about the zoo & botanical garden in North East Florida, I was shocked!

I wanted to explore this place, so last weekend, I visited the Jacksonville Zoo & Garden. It covers 73 acres and is home to over 2,000 animals and a variety of exotic plant life. While there, I even got to see some stingrays. I absolutely loved it!

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For plant lovers – there are six themed gardens like Savanna Blooms Garden, Asian Bamboo Garden, and some African plants garden. The air here smells like a rose.

Do you know why this is the best zoo in Florida? You get to see greater flamingos and Caribbean flamingos. Also, you can spot the Komodo dragon and manatees.

Highlights of Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens:

  • Gardens along the Main Path or River of Color, Primary Garden, and Themed Pocket Gardens are bloomed with seasonal flowers. It looks like you’re in a rainbow world
  • Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens is not aimlessly called the best zoo in Florida, USA. It is one of only seven zoos in the United States that has a clinic, the Animal Care Yard, on-site for animals’ good health
  • This zoo in Jacksonville also has a Play Park and Splash Ground for kids
  • The zoo is home to many species of flamingos. Those orange birds have wings and feathers. It looks so cute! You can teach your child how greater flamingos are different from Caribbean flamingos
  • Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens is also a zoo in Florida with giraffes. Bring some snacks and feed them at Giraffe Overlook. They also run exhibitions on – Save the Frogs, Land of the Tiger, Australian Adventure, Plains of East Africa and so more
  • The zoo donates every single ticket fare and membership money to conservations. They have donated $1.75 million in the past 6 years. Hence, that’s the reason they run educational programs on endangered species
  • There is a 4-D theatre, casting new movies on animal conservation
Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens
Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens

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3. Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens

  • Address: 3755 W Seminole Blvd, Sanford, FL 32771, USA

Filled with species from across the world – Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Garden is the best zoo near Orlando, along the shores of Lake Monroe in Sanford. 

The zoo is home to 400 individual animals of 200 species starting from scorpions, and alligators, to Florida black bears and fuzzy critters, goats, and donkeys.

My mother always says to never let my inner child be submissive, regardless of my age. This place is a testament to that belief. It will always be appealing, no matter how old you are. Come here and enjoy!

If you’re looking for a day trip from Orlando, this spot is perfect for family outings. You can spot the Eastern Indigo snake and various other species. Therefore, snake lovers, welcome! 

The Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Garden covers 23 acres and earned its status as a botanical garden in 2007. At the corner, there are Wow Balls, and Bungee Bounce, you can surely go for that!

Highlights of Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Garden:

  • Get up close-up photos with rhinos, visit Barnyard Buddies petting zoo, feed a giraffe, and then say “hi” to your inner child by buying the tickets for the zip line. The aerial adventure courses and the animal carousel are also a lot of fun. Additionally, the zookeeper chats are enjoyable as well!
  • Hum a song with birds chirping, inhale the fresh oxygen, and breath the gorgeous view of flora in the botanical garden
  • Venture into Zoo’s Herpetarium for Bear Awareness Exhibit and see the large collections of reptiles. Have you heard about tarantulas and poison dart frogs? 
  • I went to Sonny’s BBQ for lunch. The food was amazing
Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens
Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens

4. Lion Country Safari

Address: 2003 Lion Country Safari Rd, Loxahatchee, FL 33470, USA

Imagine seeing a herd of zebras running across a field or a lion standing 300 meters away, staring directly into your eyes, all without any barriers between you and them.

Let me take you to the best zoo in the South Florida region – outside of West Palm Beach in Loxahatchee. It’s a safari ride to get a close look at lions, tigers, zebras, bears, elephants, giraffes, and so more.

Lion Country Safari is a cage-free zoo in the US. That means no animals are enclosed in a site. They can roam freely in wide open.

Highlights of Lion Country Safari:

  • Exotic animals from Asia, America, Africa, and Australia stay here
  • Lion Country Safari is one of the top zoos in Florida as you get the chance to look for parrots, flamingos, ostriches, and other birds without nets in between
  • While returning home, stop at Café Roar for an adult drink
  • If you take the premium package then you get the golden opportunity to experience painting – giraffes and birds
  • Seeing the South-American themed zoo, an African wilderness, Serengeti Plains, and exotic forest – Lion Country Safari is the most thrilling place to visit in Florida
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Note: At the regular cost of admission, you get unlimited trips through the 4-mile drive to preserve and walk-through safari. Moreover, the rainy season is the best time to go to Lion Country Safari

Lion Country Safari
Lion Country Safari

5. Brevard Zoo

Address: 8225 N Wickham Rd, Melbourne, FL 32940, USA

Brevard Zoo is a small zoo near Daytona Beach which is home to 900 animals. You know what’s the popular thing? You get the chance to enjoy a guided kayaking tour.

Once you see the rhinos, herds of giraffes, marabou storks, camels, dromedary cattle, flamingos, long-horned Ankole-Watusi cattle, and more, you’ll feel the African air In America. This zoo in Florida with giraffes allows you to feed them by your hand.

This popular Florida zoo has a strong environmental conservation policy. If you’re fascinated by nature, go for the educational programs on nature.

Highlights of Brevard Zoo:

  • Go on the train ride that will transport you from “Cape to Cairo” in 10 minutes just for $10. The breeze while riding makes the journey most memorable
  • Adjacent to the zoo, I recommend going to Treetop Trek. You need a separate ticket for that. They’ve 5 aerial obstacle courses. Go for zipline past spider monkeys
  • One of the special and thrilling educational programs you can take part in is Exceptional Nature Space. This program helps children to understand nature in a more practical manner
  • Take the trails of Paws on Play, Caribbean Trail, La Selva, Lands of Change: Australia and Beyond, Wild Florida, and so more
Brevard Zoo
Brevard Zoo

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6. Wild Florida

Address: 3301 Lake Cypress Rd, Kenansville, FL 34739, USA

Welcome to Wild Florida, the wildest zoo experience in the Sunshine State! Here you’ll encounter incredible wildlife and have a great time of your life. Buckle up as it sits just a few minutes away from Orlando and Disney area in Kenansville.

As you explore Wild Florida, you’ll be greeted with wild gators in the Everglades, alligators, Florida panthers, deer, gorillas, Crushers, porcupines, and so more. Be prepared for an authentic zoo experience!

The best part of the crew at Wild Florida is promoting a connection by teaching people about animal living and conservation.

Highlights of Wild Florida:

  • Wild Florida is the top zoo in the state for its exciting Everglades airboat tours. The park is open to the people to educate them about the native animals. You can take a walk through the alligator park, or drive through the safari park. 
  • Take the famous Crusher Show starting at 11 am. I also recommend hanging out at Gator Bridge to watch the feeding show for the hungriest gators
Wild Florida
Wild Florida, Picture- Facebook

7. Zoo Miami

Address: 12400 SW 152nd St, Miami, FL 33177, USA

Zoo Miami has a few names – The Miami-Dade Zoological Park and Garden, and Miami Metro Zoo. Do you know this is the biggest zoo in Florida?

It is the only tropical zoo in the United States that has over 3,000 animals on 750 acres, in total 324 acres of land. Again, it is the oldest zoological garden in Florida. 

Also, in the Western Hemisphere, it is the largest open-air Asian aviary. The community believes in keeping animals of similar geographic areas together in a place. They do not want to keep them separate, they believe in staying together peacefully.

Highlights of Zoo Miami:

  • Take the VIP tour or Behind the Scenes tour or in-depth five hours expedition tour. They will take you through Asian Trail, Rainbow eucalyptus, the Hong Kong orchid trees, gumbo limbo trees and so more
  • Bring your child to Children’s Zoo. Let them have the experience like Humpy’s Camel Rides and the Wildlife Carousel
  • Parents can go for a sound and color show called Amazon & Beyond Exhibit
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Note: Zoo Miami is one of the best zoos in Miami, but you’ve to understand that it’s huge. So, the monorail is an easy way to get around the zoo. Zoo Miami is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to maintain animal health.

Zoo Miami
Zoo Miami

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8. ZooTampa at Lowry Park

Address: 1101 W Sligh Ave, Tampa, FL 33604, USA

Did you know ZooTampa at Lowry Park attracts one million annual visitors? It has also been ranked as the best zoo in Tampa for kids and families.

It received formal recognition as a center for conservation and biodiversity from the State of Florida. That’s the reason, children of Florida’s east coast have some fond memories of this place.

The park also boasts the most comprehensive collection of endangered Florida wildlife in the world. Kids love visiting the park, where they can enjoy thrilling kid-size rides.

During my visit, I was talking to an animal care team and got to know that if you book Signature Encounter, then you get a chance to feed rhinoceros and take a photo with a koala. 

Highlights of ZooTampa at Lowry Park:

  • To get a glimpse of majestic Florida natives visit Florida Broadwalk and Manatee Mangrove
  • ZooTampa is home to Bornean orangutans, Colobus monkeys, lemurs, and mandrills

My experience at ZooTampa: Animal encounters are common. I got encountered by a giant tortoise. A visitor quickly saved me. So, be careful while walking. Also, I recommend downloading the ZooTampa app to plan adventure activities more wisely

ZooTampa
ZooTampa

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9. Sarasota Jungle Gardens

Address: 3701 Bay Shore Rd, Sarasota, FL 34234, USA

10 acres tropical oasis, Sarasota Jungle Garden is designed to captivate visitors and tourists of all ages. Even, you can hand-feed the animals, isn’t that a great thing? There are a minimum of 200 animals throughout the jungle. 

Since 1939, the jungle is welcoming people to spot exotic Florida flamingos, macaws, alligators, lizards, mammals, lots of parrots, Screech owls, ring-tailed lemurs, and more.

 Highlights of Sarasota Jungle Garden:

  • You should attend interactive and educational animal shows featuring reptiles and other animals. You can take The Jungle Bird show, Reptile Encounter educational show, and Wildlife Wonder show.
  • There are 15 minutes of up-close interaction with the animals where you can feed and click pictures with them
  • If you ever thought of feeding flamingoes, Sarasota Jungle Garden is the right place
Sarasota Jungle Garden
Sarasota Jungle Garden

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FAQ: Best Zoos in Florida

1. What is the best North Florida zoo?

A: Zoo World in Panama Beach, Florida is one of the best North Florida zoos.

2. What is the largest zoo in Florida?

A. The Miami-Dade Zoological Park and Garden is home to 3,000 animals out of which 500 are rare species. This is the largest zoo in Florida with a varied range of endangered animal species from Australia, Africa, and Asia. It is a 340-acre zoo. 

3. What zoo has the most animals in Florida?

A. Zoo Miami is home to many animals in Florida. You’ll find the black rhino, giraffe, Komodo dragon, lions, kangaroos, ring-tailed lemur, red-billed oxpecker, and so more.

4. What is the oldest zoo in Florida?

A. The oldest zoo in Florida is the Zoo Miami as it was opened in 1948.

5. What is the smallest zoo in Florida?

A. Palm Beach Zoo is a 23-acre zoo in Florida that is home to Patagonian cavy, Chilean flamingos, white alligators, and so more.

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