Greenville Zoo: Everything YOU Need to Know for a Perfect Visit

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Got an hour or two to take a walk on the wild side at the Greenville Zoo in Greenville, SC? The Greenville Zoo offers a quick and easy zoo experience. While not large, it includes many animals kids love, and it’s an easy activity even if you only have an hour or two. Here’s all you need to know to plan your visit.

Viewing Giraffes and other Wildlife at the Greenville Zoo in Greenville, SC
Viewing giraffes at the Greenville Zoo

Do the Zoo! A Wildly Good Time Awaits at the Greenville Zoo

The Greenville Zoo, nestled on a hillside next to Cleveland Park, opened in 1960 and has surely brought smiles to generations of families. My family has been regularly visiting for about seven years, shortly after the birth of my eldest child. Thinking about going? Here’s all you need to know before you head out.

Popular Exhibits at the Greenville Zoo

Some exhibits to look forward to at the Greenville Zoo include the recently refreshed Primate Row, which includes dens that allow visitors to see what goes on behind the scenes.

The preschooler playground near the Africa area has been brightened up with some Africa-inspired murals along the fence of the area.

Zoo residents include over 90 species of animals. Some of my family’s favorites are the baby giraffe that you can also spot on the Greenville Zoo giraffe cam, the orangutans (which also includes a baby right now), the playful red pandas, and the amur leopards. Exhibits areas include Primates, Reptiles, Farm Animals, an aviary, a lagoon, South America, Africa, and Asia.

Both my preschool and I love going through the reptile exhibit. It’s a welcoming exhibit since it is located inside, great for a quick cool down on those hot summer days. The building houses turtles, snakes, and various amphibians. It is really cool to see the Burmese Python at the end of the exhibit because of how huge it is!

One of the BIG residents is about 12 feet long and weighs 500 pounds. The gator has made its way back to its enclosure, and is a real treat when you go into the viewing room and are surprised by its size!

The Primate Exhibit at the Greenville Zoo
New Primate Exhibits at Greenville Zoo

New Exhibits to Look Forward To

The Greenville Zoo has been working over the last year to construct the Jim and Janice Cordes Giraffe Encounters exhibit! Here, guests will be able to purchase an experience package to hand feed the giraffes (with the help of a zookeeper) from a beautifully constructed platform. The experience will get you up close and personal with Miles and Autumn, the resident giraffes at the Greenville Zoo.

Greenville Zoo Giraffee

Learn More About The Jim and Janice Cordes Giraffe Encounters Exhibit at the Greenville Zoo.

When To Go to the Greenville Zoo

The zoo is open seven days a week — except for Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. It also has an annual maintenance closure for two weeks each February. Their Spring/Summer hours are 9 am to 5 pm. The last ticket sale is at 4:00 pm and the gates close at 5 pm. (This is a good reminder for me. I am ALWAYS running late.) Fall/Winter hours are 10 am to 5 pm.

Want to catch the animals when they are active? We always find them more lively in the mornings and afternoons during the summer. (Kind of like me. The noonday heat of a South Carolina summer apparently does a number on all of us.)

What To Expect When You Visit the Greenville Zoo

I always like to hype my kids up before we do something new. You may want to print a zoo map beforehand so they can “help” navigate. (Printed copies of the map are not available at the zoo.) The zoo is about a mile-long loop nestled on a tree-covered hillside. Be prepared to push a stroller up a few small hills or help your toddler navigate a few stairs. There are also a few downhills on which I clench my teeth and wonder if I have Band-aids in my bag as I watch my preschooler zoom down the hill.

You can bring your own picnic or snacks or you can promise the kids a tasty treat at the concession stand. There are several covered areas that are perfect for a picnic spot. My kids and I always enjoy snacks with giraffes at the shaded benches in front of their enclosure.

With the exception of the reptile house, all of the zoo is an outdoor experience. However, the tree cover of the zoo is a relief on hot days.

Viewing wildlife at the Greenville Zoo, Greenville, SC
Greenville Zoo

Things to Know Before You Go to the Greenville Zoo

The Greenville Zoo has the option to reserve tickets in advance online. When you buy tickets, you have a 30-minute window in which to arrive. So, if you buy tickets for 1 pm, you need to be there by 1:30 pm. The cost of admission for kids between the ages of 3-12 is $9 and adult admission is $12. A $1 discount is offered to active and retired military families and seniors. Children under the age of 2 get in for free.

If you decide to purchase a membership at the end of your visit like we did, you can swing by the ticket kiosk to have your day’s admission applied to your membership purchase. We got a household membership for $90, which seemed like a steal when I consider tickets for me and my two kids cost $30. Our membership has already paid for itself in less than 2 months.

One of the things I like best is that if we go there earlier in the day or later in the day, parking is a breeze. There are several parking lots nearby and parking is FREE.

If anyone in your group needs to rent some wheels for getting around the park, you can now rent single strollers, double strollers, wheelchairs, and electric scooters. These are available on a first-come, first-served basis and are available at the entrance.

Greenville Zoo Special Events

The event calendar for the Greenville Zoo is pretty terrific. First, they offer some of their free educational programming, such as Tell Me About It Tuesdays from September through May each year.

The Greenville Zoo also has additional affordable educational programming for kids, including Saturday Safari, Zookeeping Kids, Zoo Tots, and Homeschool Programs.

Also, October’s Boo in the Zoo event is always something we look forward to. Who doesn’t love costumes and candy?!

In the winter months, be sure to check out Holidays at the Zoo, where the Greenville Zoo is adorned in lights throughout the park!

Find More Special Events on Kidding Around’s Events Calendar!

Kidding Around Greenville events calendar for Greenville, SC

Nearby Attractions: Things to do Near the Greenville Zoo

On average, a zoo visit will take your family about an hour to an hour and a half. If you want to make a day of it, there are several attractions nearby.

Our zoo abuts Cleveland Park. (Note: On hot summer days, there is often a shaved ice vendor parked at the park.)

Cleveland Park in Greenville SC is Right Beside the Greenville Zoo!

Review of Cleveland Park in Greenville

You can also pick up the Swamp Rabbit Trail. Not too far and accessible via the Swamp Rabbit Trail are two play areas for smaller kids: a play train area and a smaller playground near the Julie Valentine Monument.

The Prisma Health Swamp Rabbit Trail, Greenville, SC

The Great Connecting Trail!

The Prisma Health Swamp Rabbit Trail in Greenville, SC

North along the Swamp Rabbit Trail are also the Major Rudolph Anderson Memorial plane and the Rock Quarry Garden.

Of course, being near downtown there are plenty of other family-friendly options close by, including Falls Park, the museums and library at Heritage Green, and all that downtown and Main Street has to offer.

The Most Beautiful Park in Greenville!

Falls Park in Downtown Greenville, SC

Liberty Bridge at Falls Park on the Reedy River in Greenville, SC

Greenville Zoo
150 Cleveland Park Drive, Greenville

What’s your family’s favorite Greenville Zoo animal? Has your family visited lately?

Educational Adventures near Greenville SC

Looking for More Educational Activities? Check out our Guide to Educational Adventures Near Greenville, SC!

About the Author
India Menon is a native New Orleanian married to a South Indian immigrant. They have lived in Greenville since 2011. A former educational researcher, she is now a stay-at-home parent to two children and helps organize a local Meetup group for stay-at-home moms. Fueled by coffee and good humor, she enjoys playing outdoors, cooking, eating, reading, and plenty of Pinterest fails.

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