Family Guide to the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

If you’re on the prowl for a family destination that’s thrilling for all ages, then your hunt is over. This zoo’s more than 2,000 rare and exotic animals and 1,000 varieties of plants will keep you and your little ones wildly entertained for hours.

The Jacksonville Zoo's fun and vibrant exhibits provide entertainment for the whole family. To plan a trip to the zoo or find out more exciting attractions, be sure to check out there website


Best Exhibits

 Land of the Tiger 

Take a walk through Asia and experience three Malayan and two Sumatran tigers that roam this innovative 2.5-acre trail system. You’ll get the chance to see these amazing creatures up close and personal. Don’t miss baby Kinleigh Rose, the newborn Sumatran tiger cub that made its big debut to the public in February. 

Stingray Bay 

In this fun and interactive exhibit, you can actually feed and pet the stingrays! Stick your hands in the tank and get to know southern, Atlantic, cownose and bluntnose stingrays. Your kids can also learn about other sea animals like horseshoe crabs and Atlantic guitarfish. 

Plains of East Africa 

Stroll along the 1,400-foot boardwalk to see African animals in their natural habitat. Walking the loop is like walking through the Lion King movie. If you start to the right, you’ll come across warthogs, bongos and a breeding colony for the endangered wood storks. Next you’ll see antelope, then you’ll come across the cheetah exhibit. It is home to two male cheetahs, one of whom walks with a limp due to an injury when he was just a cub. White rhinoceros, greater kudu and ostriches inhabit three exhibit areas that encompass a 2.5-acre area, allowing plenty of room for the animals to roam. You’ll find zebras grazing just before you get to Elephant Plaza. Here you’ll get an intimate view of three African females and one male basking in their 275,000-gallon pool. In the same area is the African reptile exhibit. But if snakes aren’t your thing, you might want to head straight to Mahali Pa Simiba (“Place of the Lion” in Swahili). Be sure to look for the three new cubs! Finish your trip to Africa by watching the monkeys leap from tree to tree. By this time your own little monkeys will be exhausted from a fascinating day exploring the world. 

 Range of the Jaguar 

This two-time national award-winning South American exhibit brings you inside the winding halls of the Lost Temple, a replica of an abandoned Mayan temple. Here you’ll meet poison dart frogs, Amazon tree boa constrictors and even the anaconda. Outside you’ll see the breathtaking jaguar, the third largest cat in the world. 


Eating Guide 

You're bound to get hungry after exploring the wild. Here's our guide to eating great at the Jacksonville Zoo. 

Village Sweet Shoppe

Give your crew a little sugar rush at this heavenly candy store located in Range of the Jaguar. This little shop features old-fashioned sweets, homemade fudge, and even Blue Bell ice cream. 

Palm Plaza Cafe

Located in the Range of the Jaguar, this Southwestern-themed eatery offers everything from nachos and burritos to sandwiches and salads. 

Trout River Grill

This cafeteria-style eatery is located at the back of the zoo and offers sandwiches, hot dogs, hamburgers, ice cream and even hot pretzels. 

Play Park Cafe

Sit and relax for a bit while your kiddies splash around at the Play Park. Refresh with ice cream or some much-needed caffeine and recharge before enjoying the rest of the zoo. 


To read more about family-fun at the the Jacksonville Zoo, check out the June/July issue of South magazine.

Pickup a copy in your neck of the woods or subscribe and enjoy a true magazine experience.