Explore Your Family’s Wild Side at Detroit Zoo

Visit more than 2,000 different animals at this 125-acre zoo in Royal Oak.

The Detroit Zoo is a great place for families to spend the day, no matter what season it is. With so much to do there, your family can have a different experience each time you visit.

This article was recently updated on June 3, 2024 by Metro Parent’s Assistant Editor, Nikki Roberts. The update included adding family events at the Detroit Zoo in 2024. Questions? Please reach out to nikki@metroparent.com.

Quick details about the Detroit Zoo

Detroit zoo with kids
Photo credit: Kari Zaffarano

  • Address: 8450 W. Ten Mile Road, Royal Oak
  • Hours: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. September; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. October-March; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. April-August
  • Cost: Online Admission: $14-$23/ages 19-64, $12-$19/ages 2-18, seniors ages 65-plus and active military with ID, free/under 2 and members; At the Gate Admission: $25/ages 19-64, $20/ages 2-18, seniors ages 65-plus and active military with ID, free/under 2; $8/parking

Things to do with kids at the Detroit Zoo

Detroit zoo with kids
Photo credit: Kari Zaffarano

  • Make sure to head to Rackham Fountain (also known as the bear fountain) and take a family picture in front of it to commemorate your day. Make a wish by throwing coins into the fountain, which is always popular with the kiddos.
  • Take a ride on Tauber Family Railroad, which is open daily. It’s $3 per person for a one-way ride. It will take you from Chrysler Main Station to Africa Station.
  • Sign up for a zoo experience such as Nocturnal Adventures, Breakfast with a Favorite Animal, Resident Reptiles, Mingle with the Macaronis and Private Photo Safari. Although these may seem a bit expensive, the price is for a whole group of people. You can get your friends and families together for these experiences.
  • View the art exhibition or see a 4D movie at the theater in the Ford Education Center. Plan this out for when your kids say they need a break.
  • Let your kids choose their favorite animal and take a ride on the zoo’s carousel, which is open daily.
  • Take a break or end your day with some play time at Rissman PlayVenture and Korman Tadpole PlayVenture. Both play areas are open daily, depending on the weather. The PlayVentures are located west of the Wildlife Interpretive Gallery and south of the Main Picnic Grove.

Tips for families when visiting the Detroit Zoo

Detroit zoo with kids
Photo credit: Kari Zaffarano

  • Bring your own water bottles or you buy inexpensive reusable water bottles at the zoo. The zoo no longer sells bottled water to cut back on the number of plastic bottles in the waste stream. It offers 21 filtered-water stations throughout the grounds so you can keep filling it up throughout the day.
  • You may pack your own lunch or dine at one of the great spots the zoo has to offer. If you’re planning on dining there, check out the list of dining options and dates/times they’re open.
  • The zoo offers rentals of single strollers, double strollers, wagons, wheelchairs or electric convenience vehicles. If you’re looking to rent one of these items, go to the Main Train Station (near the front of the park) and at the Africa Train Station (in the far corner of the park when the train is operating). You cannot take these rented items on the Tauber Family Railroad, though.
  • Check out the zoo’s events calendar to see if anything is happening on the day you’re going. You have to purchase tickets in advance for some of the events, so always check ahead.
  • It’s easy to get lost here, so make sure you have the map of the Detroit Zoo on your phone.
  • Grab a memento from the gift shops, including Drake Passage Gifts (by Polk Penguin Conservation Center), Arctic Outpost (by Arctic Ring of Life) and Zoofari Market (by the exit).

Family-friendly events at Detroit Zoo 

Dinosauria

  • When: May 25-Sept. 8, 2024
  • Cost: $6

This immersive walk-through experience takes you along a trail teeming with lifelike, animatronic dinosaurs, from a towering Brachiosaurus to a massive T. rex.

Run Wild

  • When: Sept. 8, 2024
  • Cost: $45-$60

Get active and join thousands of runners and walkers for a stroll through the zoo. Choose to compete in a 5K race, or enjoy a non-competitive Fun Walk.

Tons of Trucks

  • When: Sept. 14, 2024, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
  • Cost: $3/members, $5/non-members

At Tons of Trucks, you’ll touch and climb trucks, lifts and carts used by Detroit Zoo staff. Vehicles from local police and fire departments, construction companies and more will also be present.

Things to do near the Detroit Zoo

Detroit zoo with kids
Photo credit: Sidetrack Bookshop


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Kari Zaffarano
Kari Zaffarano
Kari Zaffarano is a mom of one and Metro Parent's Audience Development Coordinator. She tracks down the best events every week and shares the inside scoop with families in print and online. She enjoys reading, traveling and exploring metro Detroit with her son.

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