There’s no better way to celebrate spring than to spend the day at the Bronx Zoo! This family favorite has been around since 1899 and it is the largest metropolitan zoo in the U.S., among the largest in the world. With 265 acres of park lands, naturalistic habitats and its world-renowned animal collection, the Bronx Zoo does not disappoint. Our family has visited the Bronx Zoo dozens of times and we have loved each and every visit. Spring is one of the best times to enjoy the zoo as seasonal exhibits reopen and the animals are more active in the cooler temperatures.
Exploring the Zoo
The majority of the animals on exhibit are included with General Admission. There are about fifteen different areas of animals spread across approximately 150 acres of zoo habitats. This zoo houses 4,000 animals representing 650 different species! If you opt to not visit the special features, you will still have a full zoo experience. Check out the zoo map in advance to plot your adventure. The Sea Lions are always entertaining and our family can not get enough of the Big Bears or the amazing Tiger Mountain. You can also check out what’s new in the zoo. We’ve had the honor of visiting new additions born to the Bison, Tigers, Otters, Porcupines and Blue Penguins!
This is a really big zoo and it is most likely that you will not see everything in one visit. I strongly suggest you visit the website and make a plan for your day’s adventure. Within our family, we all have zoo favorites that we try to view each visit (polar bear, otters, donkeys, grizzlies, and more). Good planning will keep everyone happy.
The Children’s Zoo is a definite addition to your visit if you have kids (or you are a child at heart). The collection of animals on exhibit are more than your typical farmyard friends, from the prairie dogs, river otters and reptiles to the sloth, porcupine, and squirrel monkeys. Along your adventure here, there are several interactive features for kids to enjoy. You will also find some of the best photo opportunities. These features include sitting in a giant bird nest replica, entering through tunnels into the prairie dog exhibit, climbing a giant rope spider web, hearing through Fennec Fox ears, modeling turtle shells, and going down the Tree House slide. When you’re done playing around, the last section of the Children’s Zoo features a farmyard of llamas, donkeys, pigs, goats, rabbits, chickens and feed dispensers for your enjoyment. (Pack some quarters in your travel bag!) There is a washing station at the end of this exhibit, so enjoy the interaction.
Jungle World is a family favorite and we make sure we visit every time. Located next to the monorail, restrooms, and a food area, this makes a great area to spend a portion of your day. This feature is not included with General Admission, but the $6 is well spent if you enjoy the animals inside. Here you will see black leopards, small-clawed otters, tree kangaroos, monkeys, tapirs, fish, bats, scorpions and more! This is the largest building at the zoo with a meandering wooden path that’s integrated into the environment around you. The addition of trees, forests and swamps merge the habitats and promote rain forest education. We’ve gotten some of our best animal videos from Jungle World!
We had the unexpected treat of a Gibbon coming right up to the glass and studying us.
Wild Asia Monorail
The monorail is the best add-on attraction for the whole family to enjoy. General Admission (and Pay What You Wish) does not include the zoo’s premium experiences such as the monorail. If you’re looking to save some money, you can pick and choose your experiences. However, if you chose at least two premium experiences, you might as well buy Total Experience tickets vs. General Admission. The Monorail is definitely worth the $6 ticket price (per person) at least once in your lifetime of zoo visits. The monorail is open seasonally, typically May through October. This is a terrific break from being on your feet or in the heat. It lasts about 20 min and the tour guide gives an overview of the animals as you ride along. You’ll see Asian wilderness greats such as the Red Panda, Asian Elephant, Indian Rhinoceros, Malayan Tiger, Przewalski’s Horse, Nilgai Antelope, and more!
This carousel is an added feature that really only appeals to the smallest family members, but we had to mention it. We love a fun carousel ride and this one is very unique. Instead of carved horses, you will ride favorite insects like the grasshopper, dung beetle, and preying mantis. At $6 per ride this is an expensive carousel (if you purchased the Total Experience it’s included), but if you’re a carousel enthusiast you might have to ride at least once.
The Rockefeller Fountain was once a famous landmark in Como, Italy. William Rockefeller bought it in 1902 and installed at the Bronx Zoo in 1903. The fountain was designated an official New York City landmark in 1968. You can find it located just inside the Fordham Road Gate, just North of the Sea Lions.
The free-standing Rainey Memorial Gates were sculpted of bronze by Paul Manship and were dedicated as a memorial in 1934. These gates represent the style of the 1920’s and French Expositions des arts Decoratifs. They were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. You can find them at the North end of the Zoo at the Fordham Road entrance.
The New York Zoological Society’s seal designed by wildlife-artist Charles R. Knight, depicts a ram’s head and an eagle. It reflects the society’s interest in preserving North American wildlife. The seal can still be found on the lawn in the center of Astor Court.
The Nature Trek is a natural play zone for kids and family. You’ll climb up to a “giraffe’s eye view” and navigate on walkways, through tunnels and over bridges while overcoming obstacles along the way. When you’re through, you can get dirty in the nature play zone exploring and imitating animal behavior. Note: This experience is only available for children age 5 and up and costs $6 (included with Total Experience).
The World Conservation Society has added a Tree Top Adventure in the park, but it is not included with any admission to the zoo (WCS membership discounts offered). This is your typical obstacle-course-in-the-trees adventure with a zip line here and there. This is a nice park with seven different courses from beginner to expert. It’s not part of the Zoo and you won’t see any animals on the course (in case you’re wondering.) Visit their website for more info.
The Bronx Zoo is part of an integrated system of four zoos and one aquarium managed by the Wildlife Conservation Society ( and accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums). If you live close enough to visit more than once in a year or can take advantage of visiting the other zoos, this is a money saver. The Bronx Zoo, Central Park Zoo, Queens Zoo, and Prospect Park Zoo are all terrific adventures with terrific perks in their areas.
There are many discounts available at the Bronx Zoo for admission tickets. Check them out on the Budget page. Total Experience tickets are advertised everywhere… Adults $36.95, Kids $26.95, Seniors $31.95, Under 2 free.
The premium features (JungleWorld, 4-D Theater, Bug Carousel, Congo Gorilla Forest, Butterfly Garden, Wild Asia Monorail, and Zoo Shuttle) are included in Total Experience or each have a $6.00 entrance fee with General Admission tickets.
General Admission still costs… Adults $22.95, Kids $14.95, Seniors $20.95, Under 2 free.
Parking is $17 per day for a standard lot. Entrances can be found at 2300 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, NY 10460 and the intersection of Bronx River Parkway and Boston Road, Bronx, NY 10460 (GPS addresses).
Family Visiting Tips
- General Admission & Pay What You Wish tickets are only available at the gate. You will not see these options online. Wednesday’s Pay What You Wish can be any amount (even $0), but it is nice if you can make a donation (any amount) to help care for the animals and keep the zoo open.
- Visitor Info will give you Zoo Hours (typically 10am-5pm), the daily schedule (feedings, etc.), and upcoming events. Planning your adventure in advance is suggested. They also offer an app to help conveniently explore the zoo.
- If you want to see as much as possible but don’t want to involve a city-pace hike, the Zoo Shuttle is an excellent addition. (Check for shuttle days and times.)
- Don’t forget sunscreen and/or a sun hat! You will be in and out of the sun for stretches of time.
- You can bring your own food into the zoo as long as you eat in designated areas and don’t share any with the animals. Seasonal cafes and food stands are available, but can be expensive, especially for an entire family.
- You will be on your feet all day so don’t be too conservative about using your stroller if you have one. The kids can only run around so much before they will want to be carried. It’s also a great place to store those packed lunches and water bottles! Bring your own and save $$$ or rent…
Single Stroller $10
Double Stroller $15
Electric Convenience Vehicle (S. Blvd Entrance only) $40 ($100 Refundable Deposit)
- If you’re visiting on a tight budget, you can avoid the South East corner of the park by Asia Parking and Asia Gate altogether. This entire section is “feature” items- Jungleworld, Monorail, Camel Rides, and Nature Trek.
- There are no lockers so plan well what you’re carrying for the day or leaving in the car. A great backpack really helps!
- There are 7 Souvenir shops! Who can resist their favorite stuffed zoo friend?! Be prepared by scoping them out on the map so you’re not harassed seven times throughout the day.
Family Adventure Rating ♥♥♥♥
Cost- You really need to do your research because there are so many price options. This adventure could cost a family of five $100 just for tickets. Travel could add an easy $30 or more. Don’t forget food costs and souvenirs. However, if you visit on a Wednesday, bring your own food and set an allowance for premium features and souvenirs, you can have a great day for $0-$20 per person plus travel. If you plan to visit the NYC zoos at least a few times in the year, the membership is the way to go.
Parking & Transportation– Parking is abundant here, but know in advance which lot you are traveling to. They coincide with the different entrances and have different street addresses. (We like the Southern Blvd. entrance.) During the summer months, get there early for decent parking and to avoid traffic and long lines. All day parking with a car costs $17. You also have the option of taking the bus or subway which has direct stops at the Zoo. *Get discount round-trip rail fare and discount admission to the Bronx Zoo when you purchase a Metro-North Railroad Getaway Package.
Day Trip or Overnight– Most would visit the Bronx just for the day, but you could stay awhile and really explore all that the Bronx has to offer. You would most certainly be surprised!
Experience– The Bronx Zoo is a top notch experience for everyone and one of few like it in the world. It is rare that you would ever see this many different animals in such a beautiful setting with so much to explore in just one day (especially in a city!).
Combination– It would be really difficult to combine this adventure with any other unless you were to stay multiple days. This is a full day experience. Even though the zoo is only open from 10am to 5pm, you will be exhausted from the travel and being on your feet all day. I wouldn’t even suggest combining this with the Treetop Adventure unless you visit frequently with a membership so time in the zoo is not a factor.