The Greenville SC Zoo is a charming, compact zoo with lots of fun activities, wildlife, and animals for kids and families. Highlights include giraffes, orangutans, red pandas, and a cute playground for kids. Here's your visitor guide for planning your day at this must-try Greenville attraction.
Greenville SC Zoo
The Greenville SC Zoo is a unique and compact zoo in the heart of downtown Greenville South Carolina. It's only 14 acres but is packed with beautiful animals and fun attractions for kids. The zoo has been around since 1960 but has gone through many updates in recent years to include even more animals and attractions. The zoo is home to over 90 specials and dozens of animals including giraffes, anteaters, amur leopards, snakes, rheas, red pandas, lions, orangutans, monkeys, and even some tropical animals like flamingos and alligators.
It's great for smaller kids because you can do the entire thing in a few hours and it's very easy to manage small kids in a smaller space. It's well laid out, walkable, and easy to explore. If you are a local Asheville reader, it only takes about an hour to get there making it a great day trip. It's located next to Cleveland Park, which has a huge playground for kids with walking paths and picnic tables. It's also near the Swamp Rabbit Trail.
This charming zoo might not be as flashy and large as some nearby zoos like the Riverbanks Zoo, but it's still a great spot for kids to see and explore. It's also among only 10% of US animal exhibitors to be AZA-accredited, the association of zoos, meaning they display a steady commitment to animal welfare. They also work on animal conservation and education. Here's everything you need to know to plan your trip to visit.Greenville Zoo Visitors Guide Click To Tweet
The Greenville SC is located just outside downtown Greenville near Cleveland Park. Parking is free and located in a large lot right at the entrance and wasn't a problem even on a busy, warm spring day.
- Address: 150 Cleveland Park Drive, Greenville, SC 29601
- Hours: Open daily from March - Oct from 9-4. From Nov-March 10-5. Closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day. There is also an annual maintenance closer from Jan 30th -Feb 10th. These days can change slightly from year to year, so check out the full hours here.
- Cost: General admission is $14 if you walk up to the gate and $12 if you buy your tickets online. Children age 3-12 are $11 for walk-ups and $9 for online rates. Children under 2 have free admission. They have military and seniors citizen discount rates. If you plan to visit more than once and have a family, a membership might be a good option for you because it's just $90. Buy your tickets in advance here.
- Getting Around: You can bring a stroller into the zoo, which I would recommend with very little kids. Older toddlers and young kids can probably handle walking without the stroller. The zoo is built on a hillside and does have a few inclines to push the stroller up. They also have strollers for rent, if you need them.
- Time: I'd plan a minimum of 1.5-2 hours to enjoy the zoo. You could really take it all in by packing your own lunch for a picnic, visiting the snack shop and shop, and making a full half day out of it.
- Food: Outside food and snacks are permitted in the zoo. There are covered picnic areas in the zoo where you can also eat! They do not allow alcohol in the zoo.
- Best Times to Go: Weekdays are the best time to go, especially during the cooler months. Holidays, weekends, and spring break can be busier as well as summer however this is a great spot to visit anytime.
- Zoo Maps: Print a zoo map here before you go, they are often not available once you get there.
Top Things to Do at the Greenville SC Zoo
See the Giraffes
One of the highlights of the Greenville SC Zoo is the giraffe exhibit. They have several Masai Giraffes including a baby which was born in 2023. The giraffes are endangered and native to Kenya and Tanzania with less than 35,000 left in the wild.
The exhibit features standing areas for kids to get a closer look. They are also in the middle of doing a major upgrade to the area including building a giraffe feeding area, which should be amazing. They have a giraffe cam to watch, which is fun too!
Explore the Other Animals
There are so many other animals to explore at the zoo and you can easily see them all by following the loop around the zoo. A few of the highlights for us were the Black Headed Spider Monkey, red panda, and orangutan babies.
There are also African Lions, rheas, lemurs, and a giant anteater, which the kids thought was cool.
My boys also enjoyed seeing the owl. The animal exhibits were all thought out and easy to see and explore, without being overwhelming.
Burn Energy on the Playground
The Greenville SC Zoo has the cutest play area that's perfect for small kids, complete with a shaded sitting area for adults. The play area is also fenced in and super contained, which is great if you have multiple small kids.
It's nothing fancy but kept my kids entertained for at least 30 minutes and we probably could have stayed long, if I'd let them!
Check Out the Birds
The zoo is also home to a really cool aviary with sun conures, troupials, jays and more.
There's also an area with vultures and this fun interactive sign for the kids showing how big their wings are. It's a great educational spot.
Do the Photo Opportunities
If you are visiting the Greenville SC zoo make sure to make time for the photo ops, like this one! There are cute spots like this lining the zoo that make great memories for families.
Check out the Flamingo & Alligators
The lower level of the zoo has a cool spot near some water with flamingos and an alligator habitat, which is really cool to see so close to the mountains. Make sure to head down the hill to see this before heading out.
See the Farmyard
If you do the loop in order, the last spot to see is the Farmyard. It's a fun spot to see goats, pigs, and other farmyard animals.
Greenville SC Zoo Special Events
Greenville SC is home to some annual special events throughout the year.
- Brew in the Zoo: Set in the evening in May (May 19, 2023) the Brew at the Zoo is a fun eventual that combines the zoo with beer from local breweries. Attendees get to sample beer, and food and see the zoo after hours. Get more information here.
- Zoo Fest at Greenville Zoo: The zoo also hosts a fun all-day family-friendly music festival in June. It's June 10, 2023, this year.
- Boo in the Zoo: Another fun zoo event around Halloween that allows kids to trick or treat at the zoo. It's usually held in the late afternoons and early evenings right around Halloween. Get the dates for this year here.
- Zoom Through the Zoo: Held in November, this is a fun 5K through the zoo.
- Holidays at the Zoo: In December the zoo hosts a holiday lights show with music and winter fun.
- Kids Programs: The zoo also offers age-appropriate classes for kids from 2-11. They are interactive classes, and you have to sign up in advance. Get more information here.
- Zoo Camps: The Greenville SC Zoo also hosts annual summer camps for kids. Find out more about dates and sign up here.
The Greenville SC Zoo is Fun for Kids of All Ages!
The Greenville SC Zoo is a fun experience for kids of all ages. Its small size is an advantage if you are looking for a half-day adventure that will not overwhelm your little kids. It's also easily walkable and set in a pretty part of town. We loved this 14-acre zoo.
This well-done spot is a perfect spot to visit for a day trip or for locals from Greenville.
To plan your trip, make sure to start with their website for tickets.
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More Nearby Zoo & Aquarium Travel Guides:
- Riverbanks Zoo & Gardens
- Charleston Aquarium Travel Guide
- Guide to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center
- Coastal Discovery Museum Hilton Head
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