Travel Guide

Central Park Zoo Sign

Central Park Zoo

Explore the charm and wonders of Central Park Zoo, a family-friendly haven nestled in the iconic Central Park of New York City. Whether you're a local or a visitor, this zoo offers a delightful escape with its array of animals, the enchanting Tisch Children’s Zoo, and a 4D cinema, making it a perfect spot for a fun-filled day out with the kids.

The Central Park Zoo in a nutshell…

Central Park Zoo is a charming and compact wildlife sanctuary in the heart of Manhattan, offering a delightful mix of animal exhibits, interactive experiences, and educational programs for visitors of all ages.

Location: Situated in the southeast corner of Central Park, at 64th Street and 5th Avenue, easily accessible from various points in Manhattan.

Transportation: Accessible by multiple subway lines including the N, R, W, and the #6 trains, along with several bus routes. Hop-on hop-off tours also provide a convenient option for visiting the zoo and nearby attractions.

Tickets: Tickets can be purchased online in advance  to avoid long lines. Admission includes the main zoo, Tisch Children’s Zoo, and all daily activities. Free admission for children under 3.

Visiting Hours: Seasonal hours vary, with longer hours from April 1 to November 4 (10:00 am to 5:00 pm weekdays, 10:00 am to 5:30 pm weekends and holidays) and reduced hours from November 5 to March (10:00 am to 4:30 pm daily).

The delightful Central Park Zoo is a must-visit attraction in New York City, especially for families with young children. Though smaller than its Bronx counterpart, the Central Park Zoo offers a compact, easily navigable space with plenty to see and do. From the main zoo with its diverse animal life to the interactive petting zoo and the exciting 4D cinema, there’s something here for everyone.

While the Bronx Zoo might boast a larger array of species, the Central Park Zoo shines with its unique charm and central location, making it an ideal choice for those with limited time. It’s a wonderful way to enjoy a morning or afternoon immersed in nature and animal life without leaving the city center. Plus, for families, it’s an unbeatable deal as children under 3 years of age enter for free.

This zoo is more than just a place to see animals. Its architecture features beautiful limestone carvings that blend seamlessly with the tranquil surroundings of the park. As you explore, you’ll discover why this zoo is not just a fun visit but also a part of the park’s rich history. Kid-tested and parent-approved, the zoo offers highlights such as the sea lion pool and conveniently located amenities, ensuring a stress-free and enjoyable visit.

Practical information

When planning your visit to the Central Park Zoo, it’s helpful to know the basics to make your trip as smooth as possible. Here you’ll find essential information on how to maximize your experience at this beloved New York City landmark.

Location

Central Park Zoo is ideally situated in the southeast part of Central Park, easily accessible from various points in the city.

The zoo’s main entrance is located at 64th Street & 5th Avenue, placing it within easy walking distance for those exploring Central Park or the nearby attractions of Manhattan.

How to get there

Navigating your way to the Central Park Zoo is easy, whether you’re a local or a visitor. Here you can find the best transportation options available, including subway routes, bus lines, and driving tips. Understanding how to reach the zoo can help you maximize your time enjoying the attractions rather than figuring out logistics on the go.

Subway

To reach Central Park Zoo, consider taking the subway for a convenient route. The N, R, or W trains to the Fifth Avenue/59th Street station are your best bets. From there, it’s just a short walk north to 64th Street.

Alternatively, the Lexington Avenue #6 train to 68th Street/Hunter College station is another good option; just walk three blocks west to Fifth Avenue and then south to the zoo.

Bus

Several bus lines make stops close to the zoo along Fifth Avenue, between 59th and 65th Streets. You can catch the M1, M2, M3, M4, M5, or M66.

The Q32 also makes stops in this area, making the bus a viable option for reaching the zoo without the hassle of navigating subway transfers.

Hop-on Hop-off Buses

Opting for hop-on hop-off buses is an excellent choice when you want to explore multiple attractions in a day. These buses offer the flexibility to visit the zoo and then continue to other major sites without worrying about public transit schedules or routes.

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Driving

Generally, driving in NYC isn’t recommended due to heavy traffic and limited parking. However, if driving is your only option, there are paid parking facilities nearby, though you should be aware that there’s no parking available directly at the zoo. Street parking is possible but limited.

Tickets

To enjoy a hassle-free visit to Central Park Zoo, purchasing tickets online in advance is advisable. Not only does this save you from long lines, but it also ensures that you have guaranteed entry on busy days.

Tickets include access to the main zoo, Tisch Children’s Zoo, and all the day’s scheduled activities and exhibits. Remember, children under 3 visit for free, making it an excellent outing for young families.

Entrance with Discount Passes

If you’re planning to visit multiple attractions in New York, consider using The New York Sightseeing Pass. This pass includes entry to Central Park Zoo among other top sites and can be a cost-effective way to see the city. Opt for the Sightseeing Day Pass for an even more comprehensive experience.

The New York Sightseeing Pass

The New York Sightseeing Day Pass is perfect for those who want to explore at their own pace. With this pass, you gain access to nearly all of New York’s major attractions over a set number of days, making it not only economical but also convenient.

Visiting Hours

Planning your visit to Central Park Zoo involves knowing the best times to explore its diverse attractions. Here’s a clear breakdown of the zoo’s operating hours throughout the year, helping you decide when to visit based on your schedule and preferences.

Spring to Fall (1st April – 4th November 2024):

  • Monday to Friday: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
  • Weekends and holidays: 10:00 am to 5:30 pm

Winter Season (5th November 2024 – March 2025):

  • Daily: 10:00 am to 4:30 pm

These varied hours ensure that you can make the most of your visit whether you’re planning a weekday outing or a weekend adventure.

Tours and Experiences at Central Park

After visiting the zoo, don’t miss the chance to explore Central Park itself. Engaging in the various activities available enhances your visit, providing more than just a walk through the park.

Central Park Walking Tour

Discover Central Park with an expert guide who brings the history and hidden corners of this iconic space to life. This small group walking tour ensures a personalized and educational experience, perfect for first-time visitors or those looking to see the park from a new perspective.

Central Park TV and Movie Sites Walking Tour

Explore famous movie scenes on this engaging walking tour of Central Park. This tour is ideal for movie buffs and pop culture enthusiasts, offering a behind-the-scenes look at locations from notable films and TV shows.

Secret Places of Central Park

Dive deeper into the less-traveled paths of Central Park with this unique walking tour. Discover hidden gems like the Loch, waterfalls, and arches, guided by a knowledgeable local who shares secrets often missed by typical visitors.

NYC Central Park Self-Guided Walking Tour

Prefer to explore at your own pace? The self-guided walking tour of Central Park is perfect. With a comprehensive app, you can start the tour at your convenience and explore the rich history and beauty of the park through stories and directions provided via your phone.

Central Park Pedicab Guided Tours

Experience Central Park from the comfort of a pedicab. This private tour allows you to customize your stops, making it a flexible option for those wanting a more relaxed visit. Cover much more ground than you could on foot and enjoy the park’s beauty without the exertion.

Official NYC Horse Carriage Rides in Central Park since 1979 ™

Add a touch of romance and nostalgia with a classic horse carriage ride through Central Park. Prebook to secure a ride with a reputable company and enjoy the park’s most famous sights from a unique vantage point. This tour is perfect for couples and families looking to create lasting memories.

Central Park Highlights Small-Group Bike Tour

Join a guided bike tour for an active and informative way to see Central Park. This tour covers all the major landmarks and offers insights into the park’s history. It’s an ideal choice for those who enjoy a bit of adventure with their sightseeing.

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What to Expect at Central Park Zoo

Embark on a fascinating journey through the diverse habitats of Central Park Zoo and encounter a variety of exotic animals that promise a memorable experience. From the chilly domains of snow leopards and grizzly bears to the playful antics of red pandas and snow monkeys, each exhibit offers a unique glimpse into the natural world. Be sure not to miss the daily public feedings of the penguins and sea lions—these are always a hit with visitors of all ages!

4D Cinema

The 4D cinema at the zoo adds an extra layer of excitement with sensory effects that bring the screen to life, though it may be a tad intense for the youngest visitors.

Animals at Central Park Zoo

The zoo hosts an array of animals, including the elegant snow leopards, majestic grizzly bears, charming red pandas, lively snow monkeys, and the ever-popular sea lions. The king penguin also calls this zoo home, alongside other penguin breeds. For an immersive experience, stroll through the replica tropical rainforest where various birds, lemurs, bats, and snakes reside.

The Petting Zoo

Just beyond the main entrance lies the Tisch Children’s Zoo, a part of your Central Park Zoo ticket where younger visitors can interact closely with friendly farm animals. Here, kids can pet and feed animals such as sheep, goats, and pigs, and even meet Manhattan’s only cow—a truly special attraction.

Sea Lions at the Central Park Zoo

After visiting the children’s zoo, make your way to the beautifully designed sea lion enclosure. With underwater windows, you can watch these graceful creatures swim just beneath the surface. Plan to arrive early for one of the three daily feedings to secure a good viewing spot, as these tend to fill up quickly.

Central Park Zoo with Kids: Tropic Zone

Venture into the Tropic Zone, where a warm, humid environment awaits. This indoor exhibit lets you explore a variety of free-flying tropical birds and other rainforest inhabitants. Ascend from the rainforest floor to the canopy, where you can spot colorful birds like scarlet macaws and peacocks, as well as playful tamarins and noisy black-and-white ruffed lemurs.

Polar Circle

The Polar Circle is a delight for children, offering close-up encounters with three species of penguins: macaroni, Gentoo, and emperor. Viewing is enhanced during feeding times, though it’s wise to check the schedule and arrive early as these sessions attract larger crowds.

Grizzly Bears

Next to the harbor seals, the grizzly bear enclosure offers numerous vantage points to observe these impressive animals. The proximity allows for fresh and exciting viewing opportunities each visit, making every trip unique.

Tips to Visit Central Park Zoo

Visiting Central Park Zoo offers an engaging experience for all ages. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your visit:

  • Arrival Time: The zoo can get busy as the day progresses. Arriving early can help you avoid the larger crowds and enjoy a more relaxed visit.
  • Dining Options: Before entering, you can find food carts and the Dancing Crane Cafe outside the zoo. Inside, a snack stand is available near the Central Garden by the sea lions. Bringing your own snacks can also be a budget-friendly way to keep everyone happy during your visit.
  • Facilities: Remember, public restrooms are not available outside the zoo entrance. However, you can find facilities inside the zoo near the sea lion enclosure and in the Tisch Children’s Zoo.
  • Accommodation for Young Visitors: Children under 3 enter free. Ensure your ticket includes access to all zoo attractions, including the 4D movie and the Tisch Children’s Zoo.
  • Play and Relax: Consider combining your zoo visit with a trip to the nearby Central Park playground. If it’s a warm day, bring swim gear for the kids to cool down and splash around after their zoo adventure.

Accessibility

Central Park Zoo is fully accessible, ensuring that all buildings can accommodate wheelchairs. The Zoo welcomes guests with disabilities and their trained service dogs, adhering to ADA guidelines to provide a comfortable and inclusive environment for everyone.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, all buildings in Central Park Zoo are wheelchair-accessible, ensuring everyone can enjoy their visit without inconvenience.

Strollers are not permitted inside the Tropic Zone due to the narrow pathways. It is advisable to use a carrier for young children when exploring this area.

Pets are not allowed, but trained service dogs are welcome in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The sea lions are fed three times daily. Check the zoo’s schedule upon arrival to plan your visit accordingly, as these are popular times and spaces fill up fast.

Yes, for a small donation, visitors can feed the farm animals at the Tisch Children’s Zoo. This interactive experience is especially beloved by children.

Children under the age of 3 enter the zoo for free. This makes it an excellent choice for families with young children.

Yes, there are several food options available, including a snack stand near the sea lion enclosure and the Dancing Crane Cafe at the entrance. While the options are somewhat pricey, visitors are welcome to bring their own snacks.

To avoid larger crowds, it’s best to visit early in the day. The zoo tends to become more crowded as the day progresses.

It is highly recommended to purchase tickets online  in advance to avoid long lines and ensure entry, especially during peak times.

It’s a good idea to bring comfortable walking shoes, a camera, sun protection, and water. If visiting with small children, consider a stroller for the larger zoo areas and a carrier for the Tropic Zone.

You can expect to spend at least 2 to 3 hours exploring the various exhibits, though you might want to allow more time to enjoy shows and feedings.

There are no storage facilities for personal belongings inside the zoo, so it’s best to carry only what you need.

Yes, besides animal feedings, the zoo offers interactive experiences like the 4D cinema, which combines 3D film technology with physical effects for an engaging experience.

The Tropic Zone offers a chance to see free-flying tropical birds and other rainforest animals in a recreated humid, tropical environment. It’s a vibrant area to learn about diverse species and their habitats.

While the zoo does not regularly offer guided tours, several wildlife shows and educational talks are available throughout the day, which are informative and enjoyable for visitors of all ages.

Where to Stay Near Central Park Zoo

Staying near Central Park Zoo is highly recommended, especially for visitors looking to maximize their time in New York City. The proximity to Central Park affords easy access not only to the zoo but also to other major attractions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the historic Plaza Hotel. The area offers a range of accommodation options, from luxury hotels to more budget-friendly choices, ensuring something for every type of traveler.

Staying close to Central Park also allows for spontaneous visits to the park’s many other attractions, such as its iconic boat lakes, the Alice in Wonderland statue, and numerous playgrounds. Furthermore, the nearby subway stations provide convenient links to other parts of the city, making it an ideal base for exploring New York City.

Other Interesting Zoos and Theme Parks in New York City

Exploring New York City offers countless opportunities for amusement and learning, and the city’s zoos and theme parks provide some of the most enjoyable experiences for visitors of all ages. Below is a guide to other notable attractions you might want to include in your itinerary.

Bronx Zoo

The Bronx Zoo, one of the largest zoos in the United States, offers a sprawling 265-acre landscape teeming with wildlife from around the globe. Visitors can explore world-class exhibits like the Congo Gorilla Forest, JungleWorld, and the Tiger Mountain. Not only does the zoo provide a chance to see rare animals in meticulously crafted habitats, but it also offers engaging educational programs, making it a must-visit for animal lovers and families.

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Queens Zoo

Located in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, the Queens Zoo focuses on animals from the Americas. It’s smaller and more manageable than its Bronx counterpart, making it perfect for families with young children. Highlights include the Andean bears, pumas, and the unique aviary that is built over the grounds of the 1964 World’s Fair.

Coney Island Luna Park

Luna Park in Coney Island is a vibrant amusement park known for its iconic rides and festive atmosphere. The park features the famous Cyclone roller coaster, a variety of thrilling rides, and more family-friendly attractions. Located along the scenic waterfront, it offers a blend of nostalgic charm and modern excitement, making it an essential experience for thrill-seekers and history buffs alike.

Staten Island Zoo

The Staten Island Zoo might be smaller in scale, but it packs a diverse array of exhibits, including a renowned reptile collection and a state-of-the-art aquarium. The zoo is particularly famous for its educational programs and interactive encounters, which allow visitors to get up close with animals and learn about conservation efforts. It’s an ideal spot for a quieter, more educational day out.

Legoland Park

Legoland Park, located just outside New York City, offers an interactive experience primarily aimed at younger children but enjoyable for all ages. The park features numerous rides, shows, and a vast array of impressive Lego models, including replicas of famous landmarks.

Hershey Park

While a bit farther from NYC, Hershey Park makes for a sweet getaway with its thrilling rides, extensive water park, and chocolate-themed attractions. It offers a unique blend of fun and deliciousness, ideal for families looking to make memorable vacation moments. The park’s proximity to the original Hershey’s Chocolate Factory adds an extra layer of excitement to the visit.

Other Nearby Attractions

Central Park Zoo’s prime location in Manhattan places it within easy reach of numerous other renowned attractions, making it a perfect starting point for those looking to explore the cultural richness of New York City. After enjoying a day with the animals, visitors can step out of the zoo gates and into a world brimming with historical landmarks, stunning art, and breathtaking views, all conveniently accessible from this central spot.

Central Park

Central Park, surrounding the zoo, is a marvel of landscape architecture and offers countless activities and attractions itself. From scenic walks, boating on its many lakes, to iconic sculptures and bridges, the park is a green sanctuary in the midst of the bustling city. It’s a perfect place to relax after a zoo visit or engage in more active pursuits like biking or ice skating depending on the season.

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met)

The Met is one of the largest and most prestigious art museums in the world, located on the eastern edge of Central Park. It houses a vast collection of art, from ancient Egyptian masterpieces to modern American art. The museum’s diverse exhibits and beautiful rooftop garden, which offers stunning views of the city and park, make it a must-visit.

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Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

Just a short distance from Central Park, MoMA is renowned for its avant-garde modern and contemporary art collections. Featuring works by Van Gogh, Warhol, and Picasso, among others, it offers a comprehensive view of the artistic movements that have shaped the 20th century and beyond.

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Top of The Rock

For breathtaking panoramic views of New York City, Top of The Rock is unmatched. Located at Rockefeller Center, this observation deck provides a unique perspective of Central Park and the city’s skyline, making it a popular spot for photographers and sightseers alike.

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Rockefeller Center

A landmark unto itself, Rockefeller Center is a hub of activity, offering everything from seasonal ice skating to shopping and dining. Its annual Christmas tree lighting is a festive season highlight, and its art deco buildings are a significant part of New York’s architectural heritage.

SPYSCAPE Spy Museum

SPYSCAPE provides an interactive journey into the world of espionage. Through personalized experiences and engaging exhibits, visitors can discover their inner spy and learn about the art and science of spying. The museum’s modern design and state-of-the-art technology make it a thrilling visit for all ages.

SPYSCAPE NYC
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Explore Our Comprehensive Travel Guide

On this page

  1. Introduction
  2. Practical information
  3. Tours and Experiences at Central Park
  4. What to Expect at Central Park Zoo
  5. Tips to Visit Central Park Zoo
  6. Accessibility
  7. Frequently Asked Questions
  8. Where to Stay Near Central Park Zoo
  9. Other Interesting Zoos and Theme Parks in New York City
  10. Other Nearby Attractions