One of my favorite spots in NYC, even before I became a mom is Central Park Zoo. I love watching the snow monkeys climb around on their rock island then looking up to enjoy the gorgeous NYC skyline. Around the corner are grizzly bears, snow leopards and penguins. This little 6.5 acre zoo actually has over 130 different species. It’s the perfect size for kids or anyone wanting a short zoo experience. The zoo is hilly with several different paths, turns, ponds, waterfalls and very interesting habitats which make the adventure satisfying, even if some animals don’t make an appearance the day you visit. Our favorite part is probably the penguin house. They have feeding times where you can watch these adorable creatures waddle around and swallow fish whole. Sometimes even diving in the water for food then wobbling back up on the rocks to see if there’s any more. The zoo also hosts sea lion shows which are very entertaining.
It normally takes us an hour to enjoy the main zoo. Afterwards we normally head to the Children’s zoo. To access the children’s zoo you actually have to exit the main zoo. Walk north along the sidewalk, under a bridge which almost always has a musician preforming, and across the path to the Tisch Children’s zoo entrance. Entry is included with admission to the main zoo so be sure to hold onto your tickets. This is an adorable, very interactive petting zoo for kids with lots of opportunities for climbing, jumping and trying out different animal habitats. The children’s zoo also offers a chance to feed some of the animals like the goats and sheep. The feeding times are only between 10am – 2pm. The limited feeding time is a good thing, their animals aren’t as obese as a lot of other petting zoos I’ve visited.
We always end up spending a lot of time playing in this little zoo. On our last visit my four year old daughter and one of her besties pretended to be cats in all of the interactive exhibits. It was quite amusing watching them act like kitties in the giant climbing spiderweb and hatching from giant pretend turtle eggs. At any rate, this is a sweet little zoo, easily accessible via public transportation and an ideal size for a visit that doesn’t take the whole day or even much planning.
- The zoo is open 365 days a year, and the animals are on exhibit all year-round.
- Hours are roughly 10am – 5pm, check website to confirm times.
- It’s much less crowded during the week, fall and winter.
- The Central Park Zoo is located near multiple subway and bus stops. It’s in the south east area of the park.
- Both the zoo and children’s zoo are stroller friendly. Some buildings and exhibits request that you stow your stroller in a designated area before entering.
- There is a cafe with food onsite at the main zoo. There is no food at the children’s zoo.
- Bathrooms are located in both the main zoo and children’s zoo.
- Bring quarters for the petting zoo feed if interested in feeding the animals.
- Rates: Adult (13yrs +) $18; Child (3-12) $13; Senior (65+) $15; under 2 is free; discounted tickets are available online.
- Membership to Wildlife Conservation Society includes admission to Bronx Zoo, NY Aquarium, Central Park Zoo, Queens Zoo, and Prospect Park Zoo
- ID NYC is valid at the zoo.
- Admission includes a 4D movie.
Check out our video of our visit!