The Los Angeles Zoo – Entertainment for the whole family

Animal rights aside, a zoo visit is almost always a great idea and a hit with kids. Most likely you’ve been to a zoo before, and most are similar, but its always helpful to have an inside-guide to a zoo you’ve never been to before. We have a membership to the Los Angeles Zoo and visit quite often. The weather is almost always nice in Los Angeles, which makes it an all-year-round fun activity for our family. Most visitors arrive by car, as it goes in a car-city like Los Angeles.

If possible, I would suggest visiting on a weekday to avoid the crowds (especially weekends prior to a major holiday like Halloween, Boo at the Zoo!). Our first stop after the seals is always Muriel’s Ranch inside the Winnick Family Children’s Zoo where kids (and parents) can brush and pet goats. Its open from 10am – 1pm, and 1.30pm – 4pm daily. (Side-note, the playful hand-washing fountain after petting the goats is a fun water play).

The zoo offers various activities for families to connect to the animals and educate your kids. One of our favorite must-do activities is the giraffe feeding (which I think is quite unique to the L.A. zoo). For $5 you can get in line to feed a giraffe! So fun. But be aware, giraffes do not like their noses touched, unlike some horses. We made that mistake. The giraffe quickly pulled his long neck and head high into the air and gave us a stinky look. Oops! Feedings occur twice daily, from 11am – 1pm and 2pm – 4pm. Check out the website for other close-up animal encounters and other programs, which are 15 minutes long and take place between 10.45am – 11.45am.

For a small charge, families can opt to take the zoo shuttle around and cut out some of the long walking. We have actually never taken it, even though we get a few free rides with our membership! In a car-city like Los Angeles we really enjoy being on our feet for a few hours.

There are plenty of food options sprinkled throughout the zoo, mostly offering salads, sandwiches, pizza, chicken nuggets and ice cream etc. (Vegetarian options at Reggie’s Bistro in the front of the zoo). We enjoy bringing our own lunch picnic, and usually sit on the shaded arena steps in front of the chimpanzee exhibit, where we can watch them play, fight, eat etc. We also get a great view of the giraffes from that spot and restrooms are close by as well.

Some families prefer having a picnic at the Neil Papiano Play Park where there are large playground structures for all ages under shaded canopies. This place is very popular around lunch time. We usually skip the lunch rush hour at the play park and stop by later during the day. Its a great spot for your children to run around like the wild animal themselves.

One of my favorite (and little known or talked-about) facts about the history of the zoo is that there have been over 35 animal escapes between the 1990’s and 2000’s, including zebras, kangaroos and gorillas!! Imagine that! In fact, the gorilla escapes were not a singular event, mostly because their habitat was originally intended to house bears, not gorillas. But, rest assured, in 2007 the newly designed Campo Gorilla Reserve was opened, and since there have been no gorilla escapes.

Good to know:

  • Save time and buy your tickets online in advance
  • Rent a single or double stroller at the zoo for $10-$14 if you didn’t bring one
  • Bring sunscreen, water and snacks
  • Animals are most active in the mornings


Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Garden
5333 Zoo Drive, Los Angeles CA 90027
Phone: (323) 644-4200
Hours: Daily 10am – 5pm, Closed Christmas Day
Price: $21/Adult, $16/Child, 2yrs and under are free
Online: www.lazoo.org


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