Visiting Florida and want to have an unforgettable gator experience? Then a day at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park is a must-see. Media tickets were provided for this review.
I think alligators are pretty interesting and I adored Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, so checking out the St. Augustine Alligator Farm when I was in the area was certainly of interest. And I’m thrilled I got the chance to see it because it was truly nothing like I was expecting.
The zoo is one of the very oldest in the country, founded in 1893. They are accredited with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (which means you get a 50% discount on your tickets if you have a membership to another AZA zoo) and house 24 living species of crocodilians from the Americas, Australia, Asia, and Africa.
This article contains Stay22 affiliate links.
Let’s Start with Lunch
My kids and I got to the zoo right before an alligator feeding, which I was pretty excited to see. I had seen videos of gator feedings, mostly from watching television with my kids (which I’m totally fine admitting so don’t be ashamed) but seeing it in person was a neat experience.
The alligator lagoon is an open air huge pit with sand, water, and a platform where the zookeeper stood with all the gator food. I had my kids count the gators in lagoon and they guessed around 25 alligators lived there. The zookeeper told the crowd there were 34 gators in all, most of them stealthily swimming towards the platform while others pushing their massive jaws against each other, knowing that food was on the horizon. What a sight.
These gators were fierce and seeing them up close was a tad scary but also thrilling. The zookeeper talked a little about the gators, what they eat, and how much meat they need to stay healthy and grow. It’s only about 80 pounds a year, which I thought was very low. That’s like us humans eating one sandwich a week.
We learned the differences between gators and crocs and then got to see a rat getting snatched up by the awaiting gators. The crowd may have let out a couple loud “eeewwwww” sounds.
So that was our introduction to the Alligator Farm. Then we were off to check out the rest of the zoo.
Land of the Crocodiles
The Alligator Farm has not only tons of alligators but a lot of crocodiles as well and they are some funky looking creatures. Some of them are small and others are massive but others really catch your eye with their long and skinny snouts and razor sharp teeth that are equally terrifying and fascinating.
There are several educational stations throughout the park where visitors can learn about the lives of the animals that live there. And the park also has other reptiles like snakes and lizards as well as tropical birds and sloths.
If you’re homeschooling, this is a great trip to make if you’re in the St. Augustine area. The zoo also has dedicated homeschooling days, which are geared towards education and entertainment for school-aged kids.
The animals are grouped into regions such as Africa and Egypt. We loved the Egyptian area as my kids are currently learning about Ancient Egypt. They were able to see hieroglyphs and pictures of the Egyptian gods. And the exhibit that houses terrifying Gaboon vipers is awesome – it is a sandy bottomed glass box that has a replica of the Ark of the Covenant and weaved baskets. Information about the Nile River and a crocodile is right behind a glass wall – we got stuck in a typical Florida rainshower under the overhang in that part of the park and saw the croc in the water, which then disappeared. He reappeared right next to my youngest, who was standing at the glass wall. I was never more happy for glass.
I loved the small kids area next to the funny looking birds. It’s geared for kids ages 3-12 and has shaded areas for sitting, slides, a rope climbing web, and a small climbing wall. It’s perfect for taking a rest while walking around the zoo.
Next door to the kids play area is the concession stand, which has lots of typical American cuisine like burgers and hot dogs. Definitely try their gourmet popsicles, which are made locally and are delicious.
Walking Across the Gator Trail and Zip Lining
While you can watch the zookeeper feed the alligators, you can also do so yourself if you dare while walking over the wooden trail that is suspended over a huge lagoon with alligators everywhere you look. Bring some quarters to get the gator treats and throw them overboard.
And sure, your kids may be short and have to look through the posts down below but don’t pick them up or carry them on your shoulders. Bad idea. They can see the gators below snapping for the treats.
For those brave souls who want to zip line over the actual croc and gator enclosures, the park allows you to fulfill your daredevil dreams. While we were waiting for the alligator feeding, we heard some zipping noises and looked up – sure enough, people were on a zip line right over the 34 alligators in front of us. This also includes a ropes course over crocodiles. Prices are between $37 – $67 and all participants must be taller than 52 inches, at least 8 years of age, and under 250 pounds
Visiting the Park
The St. Augustine Alligator Farm is open year round from 9 am – 5 pm (closing is at 6 pm over the summer). Adult admission is $27.99 and kids (3-11) are $16.99. They offer a 10% discount to AAA members, military, and senior citizens and you can print out a $1 off coupon at their website.
And since the zoo is accredited with the AZA (if you have a Greenville Zoo or WNC Nature Center membership, you have an AZA-accredited membership), when you show your pass, you get a 50% discount for up to six people.
Hand sanitizing stations are all over the park and masks must be worn indoors. There are only a few indoor exhibits. Everything else is outdoors.
Plan to spend at least a couple hours at the zoo. There is a lot to see and it’s very educational and enjoyable. My kids and I had a blast during our time at the zoo and hope to go back the next time we are in the area.
St. Augustine is under two hours from Orlando, Florida and about six hours and fifteen minutes from Greenville. There are a lot of other incredible attractions in St. Augustine such as their old town area and Castillo de San Marcos, a fort right on the water, so a day trip from Orlando would be a wonderful family adventure or a long weekend from Greenville!
St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park
999 Anastasia Blvd. St. Augustine, FL 32080
Would you love to visit the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoo?