455 N. Galvin Parkway
Phoenix, AZ 85008
The Phoenix Zoo has been a favorite local thing to do in Phoenix with kids since it opened in 1962. It's the largest non-profit zoo in the country, sitting on 125 acres in Papago Park, with over 1,300 animals. The zoo has 4 different themed trails: the Arizona trail (that features animals native to our desert habitat), the Tropics Trail (with a monkey village, Andean Bears, and black jaguar), the Africa Trail (with Rhinos, Lions, and Giraffes), and a Children's Trail (with the petting zoo, raccoons, and Ocelots). The zoo has several popular events through the year that locals love. November through January is Zoo lights ($13), where the entire zoo is illuminated with 3.5 million twinkling lights set to holiday music, 600 light up animals and sculptures, and camel rides ($5). They host a Zoo Year's Eve event Dec 31st, Boo! at the Zoo and Howl-o-ween in October, Rock the Zoo in April, and many more events you can find on our
Things to do Event Calendar.
We visited the Phoenix Zoo on Veterans Day, and by 11am, the parking lot of this Arizona attraction was almost entirely full. November is a great month to visit the zoo because the animals are more active in the cooler weather and it's pleasant weather to walk around outside for us humans as well! There are a variety of activities for kids at the zoo, our favorite was feeding the giraffes. For $5, you can feed lettuce and pellets to these gentle giants as a worker answers questions and educates on these beautiful creatures. The zoo has 2 giraffe species, "Reticulated" like Jambo in our picture, which are the taller ones with larger spots. There are three Retriculated Giraffe's in the exhibit, Jambo, Zuri, and Makope. There is also the "Masai" Species, the zoo has two giraffes, Hodari and Miguu, who are smaller with tighter markings. Also along the Africa trail is the lion, tiger, rhino, and baboons - which are another family favorite. The baboons get right up close to glass and interact with the kids.
After completing the Arizona Trail and Africa Trail, it's a great time to stop for lunch. There are two areas we recommend stopping, although you're allowed to bring food in with you and really could have a picnic anywhere. The first is by the entrance and overlooks the Giraffes/Watusi Cattle exhibit and has the Savanna Grill easily accessible if you didn't bring food with you. The other, and our favorite, is by the Flamingos and Otters. The Otters are very playful and a great distraction for kids if one of you needs to wait in line at the Cavern Cafe. The seating overlooks Lemur Island, and you can watch the monkeys play as you eat. Adjoining the eating area is play area that doubles as a splash pad in warmer weather, where kids can run off some energy as you get ready for the next two loops (the walking trails are about 2.5 miles total if you go everywhere).
If you have adventurous family members, they can take a camel ride($5) right across from the Cavern Cafe. This was the hit of the day for our friend's little boy, and we did every kid event available at the zoo! From the Camel ride, head toward the Monkey Village, where little Squirrel Monkeys walk on ropes right above your head. There is no fence between you and these cute little monkeys (pictured above), so wash your hand when you leave because as the keeper tells you, anything the monkey's can climb on they can pee on! But a little hand sanitizer is worth it to stand under a tree and see these little guys jumping from branch to branch.
From the Monkey Village, is the Orang-Hutan Exhibit, where you can see the bigger monkeys at play. When we walked up, the Orangutans were playing by covering each other up with a sheet and swinging on their ropes. The new exhibit gives a great indoor play area and outdoor playground, and these curious creatures always have a crowd of kids laughing and watching the action. Leaving the exhibit, you can loop over to the Harmony Farm and Goat Petting zoo. Goats really will eat the paper map out of your hands, but the Phoenix Zoo has feed dispensers so your kids can distract them from your personal belongings!
The last of the hands on activities at the zoo is the Stingray Bay ($2). Located near the entrance/exit, you can touch and feed the mulit-colored cownose stingrays. The zoo can take as long or short as you want it. We went everywhere and did everything in about 6 hours. You can do parts of the zoo on different days if you have shorter attention spans, and if you buy a snack - the kettle corn is really, really good! Hope you enjoy the Phoenix Zoo as much as we do!
Does your family love the Phoenix Zoo? Here are other places your family can interact with animals!