The Atlanta Zoo is a special place for families – both human and animal. From the fuzzy warm cuddles of Ya Lun and Xi Lun, the adorable panda twins, to the wiggles and wonders of the Scaly Slimy Spectacular Amphibian and Reptile Experience…there is so much to do and love.
Here are the 26 reasons you will love the Zoo like we do – from A to Z!
African Wonders at the New Savannah Hall
With the Cyclorama safely in place at Atlanta History Center, groundbreaking is already underway at the old location at the Zoo. The old building will be revitalized as the new Savannah Hall. It will primarily be used for event space and administrative offices.
Guests will appreciate the expanded African Savannah habitat, also set to open in 2019. Right now you cannot see the zebras, giraffes, and a few other animals until it reopens. The lions and elephants are still visible for a while longer.
Brew At The Zoo
Brew at the Zoo is one of the Zoo’s most popular events that occurs each Memorial Day weekend. The events includes beer and wine tastings, a commemorative tasting cup, music and access to special Keeper Talks, animal demonstrations and more around the Zoo.
If you missed it, no worries. You can enjoy another lesser known but equally as fun event in September: Sippin’ Safari. 21+ only.
If you want to see the animals as the sun sets, Twilight Treks are a great way to do it. Kids must be 6 years or older, and this is only on select evenings of the year. What’s cooler than roaming the zoo after sunset? Night-vision goggles! Awesome, right?
Dragon Talk (and more )
Ever wanted to know more about the Komodo Dragon? Now is your chance to talk to the experts! Every Monday and Saturday at 11:15 you can talk to a zookeeper about the dragon.
But wait, there’s more!
There are tons of other Keeper Talks scheduled in the Zoo and they are all FREE with your admission. Giant otters, tigers, gorillas, flamingos…and that’s just the beginning.
Encounters With Wildlife
Ever wanted to learn more about elephants? Lions? Giant Pandas? Now you can through the Wild Encounters experiences at the Zoo. Meet the animals, go behind the scenes, and possibly even feed them!
Let’s be honest – while construction is happening, parking isn’t super easy. It will get better…but the best part is that it’s FREE. There are not a lot of Atlanta attractions that can boast that added benefit. For the best spots, get here early.
Note: This is on hold until the new Savannah Habitat opens in 2019. There is almost always a line, but it moves quickly and you still get to watch the giraffes while you wait. They accept cash or card, and you can buy lettuce to feed to the giraffe when your turn arrives. We try to do this every time we visit, as our boys both absolutely love it!
We know the most popular adult event is Brew at the Zoo…but for kids it is, hands down, Boo at the Zoo during Halloween. Sample treats throughout the Zoo, and enjoy the sights, characters and adventures of the whimsical Zoo Boo Town on four magical days.Don’t forget your costume!
There is so much to do at the Zoo…food, shopping, kids’ activities, keeper talks and so much more. We love that on the Zoo website you can pick the day of your visit and see everything available by the half-hour. From there, build your itinerary, save it, and print it out!
Another fun Zoo event, Jungle Bells is just ONE day each year. You and the family can enjoy crafts, photo ops at the Christmas tree, dance with the DJ and enjoy cookies with Santa.
Keeper For A Day
Want to know what it’s really like to work at the Zoo? Try your hand as “Keeper for a Day” with a focus on pandas, elephants, birds and more. Show up in your scrubs and spend almost 4 hours behind the scenes. You’ll help with their daily routines of food preparation, cleaning and animal care.
Learning on the Zoo Blog
Did you know the Zoo has a blog? They post great content about their Quarters for Conservation, get panda updates, hear about their latest research and more. If you can’t make it to the Zoo everyday then this is a great way to feed your craving.
Membership options are so affordable, and considering all that the zoo has to offer, they are well worth the investment. A family membership includes two adults and four children. You can gain access to member-exclusive events, as well as discounted admission for guests or other zoo events. This would be a great gift to give too; I’ll be keeping this on my list of ideas when Christmas rolls around.
Pack your sleeping bag and pillow! The truth is, I can not WAIT for the little guy to turn 6 yo so we can do this…it’s at the top of my bucket list! When the gates of the Zoo close, your family adventure begins. You’ll take a guided night time tour with animal encounters, sleep inside the Zoo, then wake to breakfast and more adventures before the Zoo opens.
Only for Members
Remember how we told you about membership? How awesome it is? Well there are a few things at the Zoo for members only! We love the Members Only Night in late summer. It’s a special way to see the animals.
We loved watching the kangaroos and hanging out in the petting farm. The Children’s Zoo area is perfect for little ones, we all enjoyed brushing and petting the goats and sheep. New this year is the alpaca! And this is FREE with admission.
After the boys got their fill of Splash Fountain fun, we decided to head over to the playground and let them play for awhile and dry out before we got in the car to head home. They have a great variety of activities such as climbing nets for the more adventurous child, down to the school bus for the smallest little legs. Our boys loved the slides and spent the majority of their time climbing up, and sliding down. It gave us another solid 30 minutes of enjoyment in our day!
Bring your picnic to the Zoo (no glass, straws or alcohol) or grab a quick bite at their food stations. Flamingo Joe’s has popcorn, pretzels, ice cream and more. Need something more filling? Try the COOP Food Truck with chicken tenders, Hot chicken sandwich, fries, and Caesar Salad.
We all LOVED the train ride! We went ahead and bought the fun pass, which gave you 10 train rides to use indefinitely. It only cost $5 more than it would have to just buy 5 train rides for our one visit, so it was definitely a great deal! It’s essentially a savings of $1 per ride.
My two year old especially loved it and has been asking to go again since we got home! The train takes you on a ride through Critter Crossing, passing different areas of ‘town’, including a couple tunnels that all the kids thought was great. The theme was so cute and gave the ride a little something extra.
Slimy Spectacular Exhibit
The Slimy Spectacular exhibit is one of the best I’ve ever seen. My boys soaked up everything about this creepy, crawly world! We loved seeing the alligator snapping turtle SO close, comparing the sizes of the anaconda and boa constrictor, and seeing all the different colors that frogs come in.
They have an amazing variety of snakes, lizards, frogs and turtles; you never felt like you were looking at the same snake in every glass box. They even have a couple cobras!
Zoo Atlanta’s new Treetop Trail encourages you “walk on the wild side!” It’s an aerial adventure with ladders, bridges, nets, tightrope-style walking…and so much more! There are no height or age restrictions to partake in the Treetop Trail fun, but you must be able to safely fit in the harness. I spoke with the staff, and they told me that the youngest they’ve seen up on the ropes was a very tall 3yo.
Unbelievable Birthday Experiences
The Zoo is a super place to celebrate a birthday! You get the pavilion for 90 minutes, 16 Zoo tickets, paper goods and a Pizza Party Package for 16! How fun to see the lions and pandas on your little one’s special day.
Have a kiddo interested in vet medicine? This FREE event allows children 5+ through teens to learn about veterinary medicine first-hand with one of the Zoo educators.
We came prepared with bathing suits, flip flops and sunscreen so that the boys could really spend some time splashing around in the Splash Fountain. We did this right after lunch, so they were happy to cool off and run out any leftover energy they had.
Xi Lun & Ya Lun in the Panda Exhibit
The panda exhibit has been well maintained and offers a little piece of Asia in Georgia. Because Pandas don’t live in warm climates, their house is climate controlled and a welcome break from the heat. When we arrived, a zookeeper was giving a talk, sharing interesting information about the pandas and accepting questions.
The two young pandas were both perched in a tree, not far from the glass, eating bamboo. The older panda was sitting up right against the glass; the boys could put their hands on the glass right behind the bear! Zoo Atlanta is one of only four zoos in the U.S. that has Giant Pandas.
Safari Camps are spectacular for kids 4-14 yo, and they are offered several times throughout the year – not just summer. There is always a different theme, with animal experiences, science investigations, and more.
Help Detective Clue Spotter the Otter crack the case with monthly mysteries geared toward 6 to 12-year-olds. During the week you can do a self-guided tour of the cases (print the sheet off the web first.) But on Saturdays, the clue boxes are staffed for even more fun. Each month is different.
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Disclosure: Thanks to Zoo Atlanta for hosting us. Opinions here are our own!
After 18 years in software development, Lesli bailed on the corporate scene. When she’s not traveling, she’s hiking in the mountains or checking out Atlanta’s culinary scene, whiskey in hand.
Lesli has two kiddos -Cooper and Elliot- plus two bonus kids currently at UGA, and she’s happily married to her soul mate.