Explore: Jacksonville Zoo
Last week, I had the pleasure of spending the morning at the Jacksonville Zoo. It had been years since I’d gone adventuring here, and I am so glad my family took the trip! It has changed significantly since my childhood days, and I am sure I will be back to explore it more with my kiddos.
There is so much to experience at this zoo, and you can easily spend the entire day here with your kids. Since my sons can’t last the entire day, we arrived around breakfast time and left right before lunch - we still experienced a lot, and my oldest son has been talking about his favorite exhibit (the flamingos of all things!) almost everyday since.
When you enter, you will be greeted by friendly staff at the information center who can point you to where you’d like to go. After a short walk, you’ll find an area where you can rent strollers if you’d like. They are your typical hard plastic theme park strollers that aren’t great for infants, so if you have little ones, I’d recommend bringing your own. Across the way, you will find the train station. You can order tickets at the stroller rental area to ride the train all around the zoo. I’d highly recommend this attraction; the views of the animals are great, and the guided tour which makes several stops around the zoo is educational and fun. Tickets are an additional charge, but children 2 and under are free. You can hop on and off as often as you’d like with your train ticket.
Once you venture beyond the train station, you’ll find that the zoo is divided into different areas of the world. Africa, South America, Australia, and Asia all await. In addition, there is a kids play area where you’ll find a fun carousel (which is an additional charge) and some other child exclusive attractions such as a splash zone and discovery center. Tucked into the zoo, you’ll also be able to find exhibits dedicated to Florida wildlife, birds, and butterflies.
My family spent most of our time in the Asia area - the bamboo forest was breathtaking, and my son was fascinated by the gigantic coy fish in the gardens. He also was able to get up close and personal with a Komodo dragon which gave him a thrill! Africa was also a big hit for my son to experience. You’ll be able to visit with a beautiful elephant as well as spot giraffes, rhinos, cheetahs, and lions. We read so many books about animals at home, so it was so fun to watch him see these magnificent creatures in real life.
What I like most about this zoo is how lush and canopied it is. They’ve done a beautiful job of using vegetation to truly create the atmosphere of each “land” as well as provide ample shade for park visitors. I also appreciated the nods to each region we explored. There is so much provided to spark conversation and education for both children and adults!
All in all, it was a wild (see what I did there?) morning! I can’t wait to return when we have more time to explore this beautiful zoo.
Find out more information about the zoo at http://www.jacksonvillezoo.org/