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Why the Bronx Zoo is an Awesome Family Destination

Why the Bronx Zoo is an Awesome Family Destination

Here's what to do and what to see at the Bronx Zoo with your family.


I’ve always loved going to the zoo, and I was so excited that having a child provided a reason to visit each year. My son is 2 and we’ve already been to the Bronx Zoo three times (plus other zoos in the NY metro area—told you I loved them!). At the Bronx Zoo animal enthusiasts will love walking around one of the largest metropolitan zoos in the U.S. and exploring award-winning exhibits. The diversity of exhibits and animals is educational and entertaining as you learn about the many different animals all over the globe. The various animal exhibits include such environments as African Plains, Congo Gorilla Forest, Big Bears, the Butterfly Garden, Tiger Mountain, Jungle World, World of Reptiles, and more. There are also fun experiences such as the Bug Carousel, Nature Trek, and Zoo Shuttle.

Many exhibits are designed in a “naturalistic setting”, meaning you can view the animals cage- free. Instead, you are separated by other barriers such as deep moats and fences. With more than 4,000 animals, your family is bound to spot some of your own favorites. Read on to learn more about the zoo and exhibits you won’t want to miss.

6 Special Bronx Zoo Exhibits You Don’t Want to Miss!

WIth more than 6,000 species across 265 acres, there’s plenty to see at the Bronx Zoo, but these are the 6 things you won’t want to miss:

1. Children’s Zoo

Ideal for young children, you can walk around and explore smaller species up close, such as a giant anteater, prairie dogs, a sloth, alpacas, and a farmyard (where you can pet the sheep, goats and donkeys). Children can even feed some of these animals, which is always a nice treat after viewing many other animals in the zoo from a distance. The Children’s Zoo is open seasonally.

2. Congo Gorilla Forest

This is one my favorite spots in the Bronx Zoo. I love monkeys and primates of all kinds, so I find it a real treat to be able to walk through a gorilla habitat and observe the gorillas as they come up close to the glass, be playful with one another, or just stare at you thoughtfully as though perhaps we humans are the ones on display. The Bronx Zoo is a major contributor to conservation efforts worldwide, and I’ve always loved reading about its efforts in this exhibit.

bronx zoo primates

3. Butterfly Garden

You don’t want to miss this beautiful butterfly conservatory. You walk through a small country-esque garden and enter the conservatory where the butterflies flutter around you amongst beautiful flowers and a koi pond. The Butterfly Garden is a seasonal exhibit.

4. Bug Carousel

You and your child can ride on seats shaped like insects. Even my 2-year-old was allowed on as I stood alongside him. It’s a fun little ride that can add to your memory of the family trip to the zoo.

5. Wild Asia Monorail

You definitely don’t want to miss the monorail! Not only is it a fun ride, but tour guides will point out animals along the way such as red pandas, elephants, and rhinos. Some of the animals can only be seen at the zoo if you take the ride. Note: Strollers are not permitted on the monorail, but it is accessible for wheelchairs up to 26 inches wide. The monorail is another seasonal attraction.

6. Nature Trek

This climbing structure lets you climb through tunnels, across rope bridges, and more as they make your way through a few challenges as if you were on an adventurous TV game show (not to be confused with the Treetop Adventure, which is an aerial ropes course and zip line). You’ll get a cool birds-eye view of the zoo from above as you climb around and can pause in a human-sized bird nest! For your own safety, make sure you wear sneakers. There is also a partially wheelchair accessible area with different ramps that challenge the user. This is for visitors ages 3 and older, and children must be accompanied by an adult.

A Hidden Gem at the Bronx Zoo

I personally love the retro vibes and architecture in the Astor Court area, the oldest section of the Bronx Zoo, which still houses some of the original buildings and a historic sea lion pool featuring California sea lions (the sea lions were one of the first species acquired in 1899!). It makes me feel like I’ve stepped into the pages of Curious George Visits the Zoo as I look through the old cages, especially in the Zoo Center, which houses white-headed capuchins behind the old Monkey House.

Livestream Videos at the Bronx Zoo

Love the zoo but can’t get there right now? You can spy on the animals from the comfort of your own home with live cameras. Don’t forget to turn your volume up! At the time of writing the cameras were live 10am-4pm ET. Check the website for the latest timing.

Special Events at the Bronx Zoo

The Bronx Zoo regularly hosts special events throughout the year, including a Run for the Wild 5K to raise funds for animal conservation efforts, Boo at the Zoo during Halloween, and Holiday Lights during the winter months.

Tip About Food

Visiting the Bronx Zoo with kids can take up half your day, if not more, and what family outing doesn’t involve needing to stop for meals or snacks? You can bring snacks and drinks in with you, or you can buy boxed lunches at the Dancing Crane Café. The café has a picnic area with tables, and you’ll also find benches throughout the zoo, making it easy to picnic anywhere or to take a rest from all the walking around. Plus, there are water fountains (don’t forget your reusable water bottle!) and hand sanitizer stations throughout the park.



During my last visit there were also some free-roaming peacocks bumming french fries off the lunch crowd, so you may have some special guests at your picnic!

Is the zoo accessible for families with special needs?

The Bronx Zoo has dedicated itself to having an excellent experience for, and to provide support to, families with special needs, whether it be accessibility-related or making it a comfortable location for those with sensory-processing needs.

How the Bronx Zoo is Keeping Visitors Safe During the Pandemic

The Bronx Zoo is the perfect family outing in nice weather and a favorable place to visit since you have so much space and are outdoors. Your family will feel safe with the health and safety measures implemented by the zoo:

  • The capacity is limited each day, so you need to purchase date-specific tickets in advance from their website for an admission time. You have a 1-hour window to arrive after the time you choose. For example, a 10am ticket means you can enter between 10-11am. There is no restriction on how long you can stay.

  • You have the opportunity to purchase parking tickets online in advance (I highly recommend this—when we arrived at 10:30am, there was already a full lot).

  • All guests age 2 and older are required to wear face masks for the entire visit—indoors and outdoors—regardless of vaccination status, including on rides. You can also purchase cute animal themed face masks in advance when buying your admission ticket.

  • There are signs all over the Bronx Zoo to remind visitors about social distancing rules and to wear masks. There are markers in the areas where lines form to indicate where to stand to maintain 6 feet distance. The staff will remind you too, especially in some of the specialty exhibits. In front of each animal viewing area there are circles on the floor to advise visitors on how far apart to stand. There are also recommended paths to take in front of the exhibits with a few select one-way-only areas to control crowds.

Visiting Bronx Zoo

Where is the Bronx Zoo located?

The Bronx Zoo is located at 2300 Southern Boulevard, Bronx. Check out the interactive Bronx Zoo map before you head out to plan your visit.

What are the Bronx Zoo’s hours?

Through Nov. 6, the Bronx Zoo is open Monday-Friday, 10am-5pm, and Saturday-Sunday and holidays, 10am-5:30pm. Then, Nov. 7 to March 2022, the zoo will be open daily, 10am-4:30pm. The Bronx Zoo is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Remember: Animal exhibits close 30 minutes prior to the zoo’s closing time.

How can I get to the Bronx Zoo?

In addition to driving or hailing a taxi, there are mass transit options that will get you to the Bronx Zoo.

Bus: The BxM11 express bus is a fast and inexpensive way to travel between the Bronx Zoo and Manhattan. It makes stops along Madison Avenue, between 26th and 99th Streets, then travels directly to the zoo's Bronx River entrance.

You can also take the Bx9, Bx19, Bx12, or Bx22 busses in the Bronx or the Q44 from Queens.

Subway: Take the 2 train to Pelham Parkway, then head west to the zoo's Bronx River entrance (Gate B). This is an ADA-accessible route: This station has three elevators that lead down to street level.

Is there parking at the Bronx Zoo?

The Bronx Zoo has two main entrances with parking lots for general visitors and members: Bronx River Gate and Southern Boulevard Gate. Parking is $17 for cars. Parking can be purchased in advance, which is highly recommended—in the summer months, the zoo parking lot can fill up early.

For the best arrival experience, using the Southern Boulevard parking lot is recommended.

How much are Bronx Zoo tickets?

Advance timed ticket reservations are required; you will not be permitted to enter the zoo if you do not have a timed ticket for entry. (Note: Prices are subject to change.)

The all-inclusive ticket, which provides park entry plus unlimited access to the rides and attractions available on the day of visit: $34.95 and $24.95 for ages 3-12.

Limited admission tickets, which allow you to enjoy many exhibits, however it does not include many award-winning attractions and popular species in year-round experiences such as Congo Gorilla Forest and Jungle World: $24.95 and $16.95 for ages 3-12.

Children ages 2 and younger are always free!

Is there a Bronx Zoo membership?

Definitely! There are a few Bronx Zoo membership options with different price points depending on whether you’re a family with children, a couple, or an individual. Plus, becoming a member allows you access to the Bronx Zoo, as well as the WIldlife Conservation Society’s other NYC zoos—Central Park Zoo, Queens Zoo, and Prospect Park Zoo—for one year. You can also add access to the New York Aquarium.

Is the Bronx Zoo on social media?

Yep! The Bronx Zoo animals can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
For more information, visit bronxzoo.com or call 718-220-5100.


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Alison Leighton

Author:

Alison Leighton spent a decade in marketing at Fortune 500 Financial Institutions before leaving that world to focus on the hardest job out there: being a parent. She now does freelance writing and marketing and is the founder of Social Parent NYC, which hosts events for parents and their babies/toddlers. Follow the brand to get creative parenting inspiration about travel and activities on Instagram and Facebook: @SocialParentNYC. She lives in NYC with her husband and son and spends a lot of time reading Corduroy and wondering why Play-Doh smells so good.

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