Top 10 Must-See Zoos In Florida

Top Zoos in Florida
Photo by Keirstin Proud

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If you want an animal-filled adventure for your next trip to Florida, then you should definitely check out one of the state’s many zoos. There is a zoo for everyone, regardless of your interests or age. 

Here, we’ve put together a list of the 10 best zoos in Florida, from exciting alligator farms to educational conservation centers. Pack your sunscreen and binoculars, and get ready to get up close and personal with some of Florida’s amazing wildlife!

1. Brevard Zoo

Location: 8225 N. Wickham Rd., Melbourne, FL

Operating hours: Open daily from 9:30 am to 5 pm

Best for: Outdoorsy folks who don’t mind spending the whole day outside

Despite being one of the smaller zoos on this list, this action-packed zoo has unique experiences no other zoo in Florida can offer. 

Brevard Zoo is the only zoo in the US that offers guided kayaking tours where you can observe giraffes, rhinos, impalas, lemurs, and more across 22 acres of restored wetlands. 

Looking for something a little more exciting? Try the Tree Hugger activity, and climb up more than 20 feet on a Florida pine tree to observe some of the state’s native birds.

There are over 900 animals and 182 species from Florida, Africa, Asia, South America, and Australia residing in Brevard Zoo, as well as plenty of opportunities to learn about wildlife conservation, including:

  • Natural play areas for little ones
  • “Edzoocation programs” for school-aged kids
  • Family night hikes for those who want to experience nature nocturnally


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2. Central Florida Zoo And Botanical Gardens

Location: 3755 W. Seminole Blvd., Sanford, FL

Operating hours: Open daily from 9 am to 4 pm

Best for: Fun for all ages

Central Florida may be the theme park capital of the world, but it’s also home to one of the best zoos in the state. The Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens have something for everyone, such as:

  • Giraffe feeding
  • Up-close encounters with the resident rhinoceros
  • A petting zoo
  • A splash zone for cooling off
  • Adrenaline-pumping zipline courses
  • A lush botanical garden teeming with native flora
  • One of the largest collections of snakes and reptiles in the Southeast US 

3. Everglades Alligator Farm

Location: 40351 S.W. 192nd Ave., Homestead, FL

Operating hours: Open daily from 9 am to 6 pm

Best for: Alligator-watching, of course!

Alligators are a central part of Florida’s identity, and the Everglades is one of the best places to experience them. As the largest subtropical wilderness in North America, the Everglades is home to over 200,000 alligators. 

The Everglades Alligator Farm offers the one-of-a-kind experience of gliding through South Florida’s swamplands on an airboat, from where you can catch alligators, snakes, and other wild creatures in their natural habitat. The farm also holds:

  • Alligator shows
  • Feeding demonstrations
  • Up-close encounters with cute baby alligators and crocodiles

4. Gatorland 

Location: 14501 S. Orange Blossom Trl., Orlando, FL

Operating hours: Open daily from 10 am to 6 pm

Best for: Reptile lovers and adrenaline junkies

As the “Alligator Capital of the World”, Gatorland is like Disney World for reptile lovers. The 110-acre theme park and wildlife preserve is packed with alligators, crocodiles, snakes, lizards, and tortoises, as well as bobcats, birds, and a variety of barnyard animals. Gatorland also hosts the world’s largest collection of white leucistic alligators, an extremely rare type of alligator that lacks skin pigment and appears almost completely white.

Aside from marveling at the park’s reptilian residents, Gatorland visitors can also:

  • Enjoy a monster-style off-road adventure through a swamp
  • Zipline over treetops
  • Experience a live alligator feeding in the Alligator Breeding Marsh


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5. Jacksonville Zoo And Gardens

Location: 370 Zoo Pkwy., Jacksonville, FL

Operating hours: Open daily from 9 am to 5 pm

Best for: Family-friendly fun

The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens takes guests around the world through its 10 animal exhibits, which includes: 

  • The African Forest that houses great apes and the majestic 40-foot Kapok tree
  • The 2.5-acre Land of the Tiger exhibit where Malayan and Sumatran tigers roam
  • The Play Park where kids can splash around and watch penguins from a tunnel window
  •  A two-time national award-winning South American exhibit called the Range of the Jaguar, which houses jaguars, bushmaster snakes, poison dart frogs, vampire bats, and more

It’s also the only zoo in Northeast Florida that features a walking safari! With over 2,000 rare and exotic animals and over a thousand varieties of plants, the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens offers fun and adventure for guests of all ages and interests. 

6. Lion Country Safari

Location: 2003 Lion Country Safari Rd., West Palm Beach, FL

Operating hours: Open daily from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm

Best for: An immersive experience and overnight accommodations

Have you always dreamed of exploring the vast plains of the Serengeti or the Kalahari savanna? If you can’t travel to Africa just yet, perhaps a trip to the Lion Country Safari could scratch that itch. 

This four-mile, drive-thru safari takes you through seven main habitats featuring some of the largest zebra, rhino, and giraffe herds in the US. You’ll also find chimpanzees, tapirs, impalas, wildebeest, gibbons, water buffalo, and, of course, African lions. All in all, the park boasts over 1,000 animals across 300 acres of land.

When you’re done with the safari, you can spend the rest of the day exploring the Adventure Park, which offers an assortment of activities and amenities including:

  • A pontoon boat tour
  • Miniature golf
  • A giraffe feeding exhibit
  • A splash zone
  • Water slides
  • A petting zoo
  • A camping ground with cabins, RV, and tent accommodations

7. Naples Zoo

Location: 1590 Goodlette-Frank Rd., Naples, FL

Operating hours: Open daily from 9 am to 4:30 pm

Best for: The “classic” zoo experience and long walks

Is there a zoo in Florida that has just about everything you could ask for…and more? The Naples Zoo may come close. 

This nationally accredited zoo houses its animal residents in a historic tropical garden that was created over 100 years ago. This lush park has an impressive array of wild and native animals, including hyenas, cheetahs, giant anteaters, monkeys, Florida panthers, alligators, and even sloths. 

Visitors can:

  • Observe different species of monkeys on a catamaran cruise
  • Learn about venomous reptiles at the Reptile Rendezvous show
  • Join informal talks with zookeepers
  • Feed giraffes
  • Watch a live alligator feeding

8. Shy Wolf Sanctuary

Location: Golden Gate Estates, Naples, FL

Operating hours: Closed Tuesdays, Thursdays, and major holidays. Admission is by appointment only. The sanctuary is closed for repairs until August 31, 2022. 

Best for: Small groups looking and a low-key, personal experience with animals

Unlike other zoos in FL, this facility focuses on one particular animal family: canines. In fact, Shy Wolf isn’t exactly a zoo – it’s actually a sanctuary for animals that could not be taken in by government animal services, animal rehabs, or zoos. 

It is home to over 1,200 animals, most of which were abandoned, injured, or deemed unreleasable in the wild due to being bred and raised in captivity. While the sanctuary shelters dozens of wolves, wolf dogs, foxes, coyotes, dingoes, and singing dogs, they also have a cougar, a bobcat, raccoons, prairie dogs, and more.

Visitors must set an appointment and donate to visit, as the sanctuary is small and relies on volunteers to run. The sanctuary also runs a Healing Hearts program – through a special animal encounter and a creative activity, guests are encouraged to find healing and connection.

9. Zoo Miami

Location: 12400 S.W. 152nd St., Miami, FL

Operating hours: Open daily from 10 am to 5 pm

Best for: Learning about global wildlife and conservation

The largest zoo in Florida, Zoo Miami boasts an incredible 750-acre park with over 3,000 animals from over 500 different species. It also holds the distinction of being the only subtropical zoo in the United States, which means that it is capable of housing animals that may not typically thrive in colder parts of the country. 

The zoo is subdivided into zones representing different geographic territories, where animals of different species can coexist in environments that closely resemble their natural habitats. There are over 9,000 species of plants in Zoo Miami, making it one of the most impressive botanical gardens in the state as well. 

The zoo is renowned for being an active leader in wildlife conservation and offers numerous programs, grants, and scholarships in the field. As one of the top-rated zoos in the country, Zoo Miami is a must-see for animal lovers.

10. Zoo Tampa

Location: 1101 W. Sligh Ave., Tampa, FL

Operating hours: Open daily from 9:30 am to 5 pm

Best for: Getting up close and personal with wild animals

For budding conservationists who want to catch a glimpse of some of the world’s most endangered species, Zoo Tampa is your best bet. 

The newly opened Florida Wilds exhibit offers “unobstructed and sprawling views” of the rare and endangered Florida panther. The three resident panthers are cared for in a state-of-the-art facility, which also rehabilitates other at-risk species such as the critically endangered red wolf.

Aside from this, guests can also enjoy up-close encounters with giant tortoises, Indian rhinos, stingrays, manatees, elephants, penguins, and koalas.

Tampa Zoo is open to hosting private events such as:

  • Weddings
  • Birthdays
  • Bar/bat mitzvahs
  • Corporate events
  • Company outings
  • Proms and homecoming dances
Enjoy the Best Events At ZooTampa At Lowry Park


The Bottom Line

If you’re looking to get up close and personal with some of the Sunshine State’s most exotic creatures, look no further than these 10 zoos. Whether you want to see alligators in their natural habitat, roam among fearsome lions, or learn more about wildlife conservation, there is a zoo in Florida that is perfect for you.

**Disclaimer: There is a good chance that this post contains affiliate or sponsor links. If you make a purchase through them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you (for which we are extremely grateful).

Also, while we do our best to highlight LGBTQ-friendly destinations and businesses, info provided is based solely on personal experience and recommendations by community partners. We hope that nobody experiences discrimination or homophobia while visiting Florida, but we make no guarantees. Please inform us if you experience discrimination or homophobia while visiting any destination so we can make updates to our recommendations.

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may, 2024

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