Zoo Miami with the Kids: A Family Guide

by | Play, USA

 

If you’re thinking of visiting South Florida with the family, here is an in-depth guide to Zoo Miami with kids! With its wide array of animals, shows, and interactive activities, the Miami-Dade Zoological Park and Gardens is sure to be a hit with the whole family.

1. Getting to Zoo Miami

1. Getting to Zoo Miami

By car

If you’re in Miami, getting to the Zoo is super easy. If driving, the park is conveniently located off the Florida Turnpike’s Exit 16. Our visit to the amusement park was part of a road trip to South Florida, so we were fortunate enough to have a car. We plugged the Zoo’s address into Google maps and used the GPS to direct us to the front door.

There is plenty of free parking on the property. My family and I visited the Zoo twice during our stay in Miami. Luckily on both occasions, we had no problem finding parking relatively close to the main entrance. Having the car close by was great, especially when visiting the Zoo Miami with kids. One day we made it all the way in the park when we realized that we had forgotten our son’s hat in the car. A quick walk back to the car got us and the back in the action.

By Bus

If you plan on taking public transportation, the bus only runs directly to the zoo on weekends. During the weekdays, it seems as if the closest bus stop is about 40 minutes away. Don’t feel like you’re stranded, though! Zoo Miami will provide you with a complimentary ride to the entrance of the park from the bus stop.

Uber or Taxi

It is possible to take an Uber or taxi to the zoo, but it really depends where you are staying. If you are staying outside of the Miami-Dade area, it may be worthwhile to just rent a car. The cost of taking an Uber or taxi can end up being equivalent to the cost of renting a car, so definitely get a quote before calling one in. We’ve heard stories from friends of paying almost $40/trip to and from the zoo – a total of $80!

2. Costs of visiting the Zoo with the family.

2. Costs of visiting the Zoo with the family.

Admission

The cost of a trip to Zoo Miami is really dependant on what you want to do and how kids you have. Further, additional activities, rides or rentals, expect to pay more.

The cost of General Admission which gives you access to the zoo only is as follows:

GuestCost
Adults (13+)$22.95 + tax
Child (3-12)18.95 + tax
Children (2 and under)free

(all tickets are subject to 7% tax)

Zoo Miami also offers Best Value Packages for Adults and Children that includes admission to the Zoo, All-Day Monorail Pass, Unlimited Carousel Rides and One Animal Feeding (Giraffe, Tortoise, Camel, Rhino or Parrot).

GuestCost
Adults (13+)$34.16 (Online Sale Price $32.50)
Child$30.16 (Online Sale Price $28.50)

(all tickets are subject to 7% tax)

The Best Value Packages may be the way to go if you are planning on using the monorail or participating in any of the feedings. So, If you opt to get the General Admission tickets, expect to pay an additional fee for feedings ($5/animal), using the monorail ($5/all day pass), or Carousel ($2/ride).

If you plan on visiting the Zoo more than once, Miami Zoo offers visitors the ability to come back to the park for $10 within 10 days of your first visit. You will definitely want to take advantage of this offer to do some of the activities you missed on the first day. If you have kids, it’s best to take your time and do the park in two days. As a result it’s less stressful, and you will have more time to explore everything the zoo has to offer.

If you live in Miami or are going to be there for a while, you can also buy a Membership pass which is good for the whole year.

Pass TypeCost
Family Pass
ONE of the following options:
1. Two (2) named adults living at the same address and up to Four (4) children (age 3-17).*
2. One (1) named adult, one (1) unnamed guest and up to Four (4) children (age 3-17).*
* Children must be living in the same household. Nieces and Nephews are not allowed.
* All children and unnamed guests must be accompanied by named member in order to enter Zoo Miami

$169 + tax

Up to 4 additional adults $35/each Up to 2 additional children $25/each

Dual Pass
ONE of the following options
1. Two (2) named adults (18-64)
2. One (1) named adult and One (1) named child* (age 3-17)
3. One (1) named adult and One (1) unnamed guest*
* Named child must be accompanied by named member in order to enter Zoo Miami.
* Unnamed guest must be accompanied by named member in order to enter Zoo Miami
$89 + tax
Up to 4 additional guests $35/each
Senior Dual Pass
ONE of the following options
1. Two (2) named adults (65 and Over)
2. One (1) named adult and One (1) named child* (age 3-17)
3. One (1) named adult and One (1) unnamed guest*
* Named child must be accompanied by named member in order to enter Zoo Miami.
* Unnamed guest must be accompanied by named member in order to enter Zoo Miami
$84 + tax
Up to 4 additional guests $35/each
Individual Pass (18-64)$69 + tax
Senior Individual Pass (65 +)$64 + tax

(Admission prices and descriptions. Zoo Miami, 2019)

Coupons and Discount Codes

No one likes to pay full price for anything (especially my husband!). Before you purchase, make sure to check online for any coupons or discount codes that can be used toward your ticket. When we visited, Groupon was offering a special ticket for $23 that gave us extra perks like unlimited monorail, carousel and boat rides all for the price of General Admission. Score!

If you belong to the military, you can get 50% off your ticket and 25% off for accompanying guests. Miami-Dade employees get $3 off and Seniors can get 25% off their tickets.

On some occasions, Zoo Miami will have special pricing, so make sure to check their website before purchasing. Last year they offered $10 days at the zoo over the 4th of July weekend.

Additional Costs

If you plan on participating in some of the additional activities, like rides or feeding the zoo animals, expect to pay additional fees (between $2 – $12, depending). Rentals will also add to the cost of visiting.

3. What to wear to the park

3. What to wear to the park

What to wear at Zoo Miami

 

                         What to wear at Zoo Miami

Miami’s weather is pretty comfortable all year round. Okay, I’m lying. It’s comfortable in the winter and melt-your-skin hot in the summer. Here are some things to consider when planning for your day.

Clothing

Depending on when you visit Miami, your clothing options will change. During the winter months, wear some layers like a tee and light sweater. For summer, wear loose-fitting, light clothing, sunglasses and a sun hat. Wear anything else and you may melt. Seriously, a sun hat is a must especially if you are bringing children to the park. So, we used a sun hat for our baby and it was fantastic at keeping her face and neck covered.

Shoes

You are going to be doing A LOT of walking so make sure to bring a very comfortable pair of shoes, especially for the kids. We bought our son a pair of Crocs and they were very versatile while we were there during the summer. These shoes were the absolute best when visiting splash pads. They did well in the water and well when walking on the hot cement. My son absolutely loved them and when he wanted his feet free, they were really easy to slip on and off.

A comfortable pair of runners will also do well. So, just make sure to break them in first or expect some blisters (as I found out the hard way). If you opt for closed shoes, don’t forget to bring a pair of flip-flops for the splash pad area.

Swim

During those hot summer months, the splash pad at the zoo is a relief for kids and parents. Kids of all ages can beat the heat at the Ocean Voyage Splash Pad located in the center of the park, next to the Oasis Grill, so don’t forget the swimsuits.

Sunscreen

I know it’s common sense, but there have been times where we’ve forgotten to bring the sunscreen with us, only having to run to the store to get some. Make sure to bring sunscreen and reapply while you’re there if you want to avoid getting burned.

4. Zoo Miami Family Activities

4. Zoo Miami Family Activities

Activities at Zoo Miami

 

Activities at Zoo Miami

While Zoo Miami is amazing for being the only subtropical zoo in America, there is more to do than just looking at the animals in their living environments. There are so many learning experiences for kids (and adults, alike!) and lots of activities that will keep the family entertained for days!

Learning Experiences

Feeding the Animals

Zoo Miami provides guests with the opportunity to feed 5 of its animals – the rhinos, camels, parrots, Giant tortoise, and the giraffes. This by far was probably the most exciting thing that happened as far as my preschooler is concerned. When we found out that there was the option of feeding a giraffe we went straight for it. For $5, you can get a small bowl of lettuce and the giraffes will come up to the feeding post for a snack. Word to the wise. Be prepared to wait a bit for some of the animals as they may not be very receptive. The issue is that they’re being fed all day and sometimes aren’t very hungry.

Critter Connection

Want your kids to get close to some zoo animals, but don’t want to pay anything extra? Stop by one of the Critter Connections to get some hands-on experiences for free! A zookeeper will take out the animal and instruct kids on the proper way to handle it. They also give a small lesson on the animal and answer any questions that kids may have. We got to hold a small snake and my son LOVED it!

Wildlife Training Presentation

If your kiddos are less than thrilled of being so close to animals, this presentation is your ticket to fun and interaction from a distance. Held in the Sami Amphitheater, you and your family can watch really fun and engaging training sessions with a bunch of different animals and their keepers. It was really funny and gave us some time to relax and cool down.

Meet the Zookeeper

If you want to get more information on one of the animals, or want to ask some questions, visit one of the zookeepers talks. Located at the animals’ exhibit, your kids can learn some really interesting facts about their favorite animals at the zoo.

Animal Fun Factory

If your kids are down for fun and interaction but with a creative flair, the Animal Fun Factory is for them. Kids get to participate in making creative items that the animals can use for physical and mental exercise. For instance, kids might make a cardboard birthday cake to for an animal’s birthday. This exhibit is wonderful for the kids as it allows them to give back to the animals and teaches them about conservation.

Activities and Rides

Splash Pad and Playground

Zoo Miami Splash Pad

 

Zoo Miami Splash Pad

Zoo Miami knows that kids may need to burn off some steam (while parents take a quick break!) so they made a wonderful splash pad and playground area to do both. My son loved the splash pad so much he could have spent the whole day there. The ocean Voyage Splash Pad is designed to cater to different age groups. A small portion of the water play area is dedicated to toddlers whereas the larger area is meant for kids of all ages. The design of the park is quite creative with water cannons, overflowing buckets of water, sprinklers and a large whale dropping gallons of water.

Rides

For the younger kids, or kids at heart, the Zoo Miami Wildlife Carousel is sure to be a hit. With 30 hand-carved animals, such as a cheetah and gorilla, kids can have fun for only $2/ride.

If a carousel isn’t their thing, perhaps your kids would like to take a float on Lostman’s River Ride. For $5, kids can go down into the “Everglades” and see the exhibits with a splash.

Events

Zoo Miami runs so many amazing events all throughout the year. From their Mother’s day celebration to the Zoo Lights Miami at Christmas, make sure to check their calendar for upcoming events.  

Tours

The zoo also offers private tours if you are limited for time or want to get a more in-depth experience (all in the comfort of a private golf cart). The three tours offered include:

  1. VIP Experience ($75 + tax/person):a 2 hour personally guided tour on a golf cart with first serve access (no waiting in line!)
  2. Behind the Scenes Tour ($150 + tax/person): Same as the VIP Experience but with the added bonus of meeting the animals’ keepers and getting to feed them (the animals, not the keepers)
  3. Expedition Wildlife ($500/person): This 5-hour tour gives you access to the big animals, like the elephants and gorillas. It also includes lunch at a restaurant of your choice.

Note: All tours can accommodate up to 5 people and have to be reserved 5 days in advance.

5. Is your kid a hungry, hungry hippo?

5. Is your kid a hungry, hungry hippo?

Purchasing food in the park

Hippo at Zoo Miami
 

 

 

Hippo at Zoo Miami

If you want to have a restaurant feel, visit Nourish305. It’s the only indoor restaurant located in the park and has air conditioning. Furthermore, if you have very small kids, this can really help provide some respite from the scorching sun.

With so many sounds around the Miami zoo, you may mistake your hungry tummy for a hungry hippo. Walking around the park will make you and your kids very hungry and Zoo Miami has a lot of dining options.

Food can also be purchased at one of the main three serveries: Oasis Grill, Carousel Cafe, and Fiesta Cafe. The Oasis Grill is centrally located in the park and has a basic menu of the usual burgers, pizza, chicken fingers, and fries. The Carousel and Fiesta Cafes are conveniently located to provide Zoo visitors access to snacks while visiting animal exhibits.

You can also find vending machines and food carts located around the park. Prices are comparable to other theme parks and a small meal will cost you around $10.

 

BYO Food

Eating at Zoo Miami
 

 

Eating at Zoo Miami

For families with babies and young toddlers, baby food is not offered anywhere in the park and parents are encouraged to bring their own meals for children under 2. Miami Zoo and management will not assist in the processing or heating of baby food, so make sure to plan accordingly. While you are allowed to bring coolers into the park and reusable water bottles, food is strictly prohibited (unless for babies and toddlers).

If you have any dietary or religious restrictions, or would just like to bring your own packed lunch, Zoo Miami does offer families the ability to leave their food in the main lobby of the Administration Building and then pick it up when ready to eat. There are picnic benches conveniently located just outside the entrance of the zoo and it’s a great way to save some money and take a well-needed break.

6. Animals aren't the only friends at the Zoo!

6. Animals aren’t the only friends at the Zoo!

Riding the Monorail at Zoo Miami

Riding the Monorail at Zoo Miami

As every mom and dad knows, the easier it is to take care of your kids, the happier everyone will be. Zoo Miami has family-friendly facilities and options that will suit your families’ needs.

Nursing Rooms

Unfortunately, there are no nursing rooms at the Zoo. This can make things a little difficult for nursing mothers if you are accustomed to them. That being said, there are plenty of gazebos and benches that you can sit on to nurse. One warning though. While we were there I decided to sit at some chairs to nurse and I didn’t realize that it was one of the designated smoking areas. If you are allergic to secondhand smoke like me, or just prefer your baby be in that environment, make sure to read all signs before settling down to feed your baby.

Restrooms

There are lots of restrooms located throughout the park, so potty breaks will be a breeze. You can grab a map at the entrance or even download the Zoo Miami app which will show you all the facilities available. We found the restrooms to be clean and comfortable to use with our toddler and baby.

Stroller accessible

Zoo Miami does a great job of making the park accessible for strollers and wheelchairs by having lots of ramps and paved pathways. While some areas may be a bit narrow, you shouldn’t have any issues getting into all the exhibits.

One issue we faced was using the monorail with our Baby Jogger City Select stroller. The stroller would not fit in the monorail and we had to quickly take out all our belongings and sleeping baby (insert unhappy mom face here) to be able to get in. While the Miami Zoo does state on their website that the monorail is wheelchair accessible, I am unsure whether or not there are designated monorail cars that should be used. If so we were not advised of it when taking out all our stuff of the stroller, and throwing it into the monorail.

Shade and Cooling stations

If you’ve ever been to Miami you know that it is HOT, especially in the summer. The park is very well shaded in most areas with trees, canopies and gazebos. That being said, there were some areas of the park that just didn’t have enough coverage for our baby, especially on a very hot day.

We had to really criss-cross the park to make sure we were under some trees, and even then it was difficult to do with all the Safari Cycles everywhere. I would say that you will have direct sun for at least 50% of the time so make sure to bring proper sun hats, clothing, sunscreen and water. As our baby was too young, and couldn’t use sunscreen, we had to use a light blanket to cover her skin while walking around the park.

On the other hand, the zoo has cooling stations situated all around the park which is amazing! Our toddler had the best time running up to them and getting a cooldown. You don’t have to look too far for them as they are located everywhere throughout the park.

Transportation around the Park

Zoo Miami is huge! The park occupies almost 750 acres and while it can be done on foot, there are more convenient ways to see the park. If you plan on seeing the park in one day, you should definitely consider using the monorail, taking a Safari Tram tour, or renting a Safari Cycle.

If you have very young children, taking the monorail is an easy way to get from one side of the park to the other. Perhaps your children really want to see the Elephants and then want to feed the giraffes. Then hop on the monorail from the Asia Station and be transported to the Africa Station in a snap. It’s air-conditioned which makes it a great option for those really hot days.

Another option is to take one of the Safari Tram tours which are a narrated tour of the Asia and Africa exhibits. There is a fee of $6.50/person but it may be worthwhile if you have limited time or want some more comfort while exploring the amusement park. Both the monorail and Tram are wheelchair accessible, so you should be fine to take your stroller. One consideration is that if your stroller is too large (like ours) you may have to empty it and fold it up to use these modes of transport.

Finally, renting a Safari Cycle is probably the most popular option for families. When we visited they were everywhere! It seemed as if most families opted for this type of transportation as they can accommodate up to 3 adults and 2 children (small) or up to 6 adults and 2 children (large).

Unfortunately, they do not offer a Safari Cycle that can accommodate a car seat if you have a small baby. In our case, we would have loved to rent one, but since our daughter was too small, we couldn’t. They are a bit expensive to rent ($26 + tax for 2 hours, plus $13 + tax for every hour after for the small) but from what we could see, totally worth it. The zoo is massive and having wheels and shade is really amazing for the family. Above all, tired and hot kids do not make for a fun day at the Miami Zoo and the Safari Cycle will keep everyone happy.

Rentals

Strollers and Wheelchairs

If you’re travelling and didn’t bring a stroller the Zoo has you covered. You can rent a single or double stroller for the day. There is also the option of renting out regular and motorized wheelchairs if someone in your family needs one.

Safari Cycles and Pedal Boats

Safari Cycles can be rented for the day until 4:30 pm and there is also the option of renting a Pedal Boat for up to 5 people. The minimum age to rent the Safari Cycles and Pedal Boats is 21.

Rental ItemCost
Single Stroller$8 + tax
Double Stroller$10 + tax
Wheelchair$8 + tax
Motorized Wheelchair$30 + tax
Safari Cycle (Small)$26 + tax (2 hours)$13 + tax per additional hour
Safari Cycle (Large)$36 + tax (2 hours)$18 + tax per additional hour
Pedal Boats (3 persons)$15 + tax
Pedal Boats (4 persons)$20 + tax
Pedal Boats (5 persons)$25 + tax
Child 0 to 2Free

(Rental Costs. Zoo Miami, 2019)

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