Zoos, Nature Centers, & Aquariums Within 2.5 Hours of Greenville

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Looking for a zoo or aquarium to explore in the southeast? What kid doesn’t love getting up close and personal with a gray wolf, black bear, a giant shark, or a creepy tarantula? Families can check out all of those animals and more with the many zoos, nature centers, and aquariums all within a two-and-a-half-hour drive or less from Greenville.

Pack drinks and lunches and hit the road for a memorable trip learning about all kinds of animals! And if you have a membership to a zoo, nature center, or aquarium that is a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), you will often be able to receive free or discounted tickets to one of them outside your home city. (Note: due to Covid-19 operations and limited admissions, not all zoos are accepting reciprocal memberships at this time. )

The Greenville Zoo

  • About: A local favorite of course is the Greenville Zoo. Families love this place because it’s not huge, making it manageable for even the smallest kids, yet they have a lot of cool animals like giraffes, snakes, lions, and monkeys.
  • Distance: It’s in Greenville, so zero miles.
  • Price: $12/adults, $9/kids ages 3-12, free/2 and under with a paid adult; members are free. AZA member

Roper Mountain Science Center

  • About: The RMSC has lots of animals in the Harrison Building, which was recently renovated, and are open to the public during Second Saturday events, afternoon explorations and summer programs. They also have a Living History Farm with sheep, cows, chicken, and pigs.
  • Distance: Also in Greenville, so local.
  • Price: Price varies based on program. Generally free for members.

Riverbanks Zoo & Garden

  • About: The Riverbanks Zoo is a fairly large zoo with seals, penguins, bears, and an awesome outdoor play area with a splash pad in the summer. It’s located in Columbia, SC.
  • Distance: 1.5 hours from Greenville
  • Price: $21.99/adults, $18.99/kids ages 2-12, free/younger than two-years-old; tickets are half-price for families with a Greenville Zoo membership. AZA member.

WNC Nature Center

  • About: Located near Asheville, the WNC Nature Center is unique because almost all its animals are local to the area. It’s not too big either, which makes it easy to see everything, and there are natural playgrounds scattered throughout the center and a little petting zoo that kids will love.
  • Distance: 1.5 hours from Greenville
  • Price: $13.95/adults, $9.95/kids ages 3-15, free/ two and under; if you have a membership to the Greenville Zoo or the RMSC, you may be able to get in free, just call ahead

Carolina Raptor Center

  • About: An easy day trip from Greenville, the Carolina Raptor Center is home to falcons, hawks, owls, eagles and vultures from all over the world. Visitors can view these magnificent raptors up close, and learn about their individual stories and unique characteristics that help them survive in the wild.
  • Distance: Just under two hours from Greenville
  • Price: $12 adults, $10 seniors, teachers, military, $8 for Students ages 4 and up, Free for children ages 3 and under.

Aquarium and Shark Lab by Team ECCO

  • About: Primarily an education and research facility, the aquarium and shark lab has a huge shark tank, and over 275 invertebrates, fish, reptiles, and salamanders. Lots of opportunities to touch the animals as well as watch shark feedings. We visited and had a blast! Check out our review of Team ECCO!
  • Distance: 1 hour from Greenville
  • Price: $6.75/adult, $4.70/ages 1-4, free/kids under one-year-old

Sea Life Charlotte-Concord Aquarium

  • About: With over 10 interactive exhibits to explore at this aquarium, you can spend all day here. Check the website for feeding times, events, and new exhibits.
  • Distance: 1.45 hours from Greenville
  • Price: $17.99/adult, $14.99/kids ages 3-12; free/under 2; AZA member.

Georgia Aquarium

  • About: This aquarium is the largest in the nation and houses a whale shark, bottlenose dolphins, sea horses, sea lions, and thousands more. There is a huge viewing area where kids will be mesmerized by the sea life.
  • Distance: 2.5 hours from Greenville
  • Price: $39.95/adults and children, free/two and under

Zoo Atlanta

  • About: This large zoo is home to some adorable pandas, lions, giraffes, bears, tigers and a lot more. You could easily spend an entire day at this zoo
  • Distance: 2.5 hours from Greenville
  • Price: Admission prices depend on the day and time of your visit. Admission for adults ranges from $25.45 to $31. 95, Admission for children 3 to 11 ranges from $19.45 to $24.45.
Panda cubs playing at Zoo Atlanta in Atlanta, GA
Pandas at Zoo Atlanta

Chattahoochee Nature Center

  • About: You’ll find hiking, interactive exhibits, gardens, and wetlands habitats at the Chattahoochee Nature Center just outside of Atlanta.
  • Distance: 2.5 hours from Greenville
  • Price: $15/adults, $11/students ages 13-18, $9/kids ages 3-12


About the Author
Kristina Hernandez is a mom of two girls, freelance writer and photographer. Originally from New Jersey, she is in love with the Upstate and could not imagine raising her kids anywhere else. She enjoys hiking to waterfalls, kayaking, camping, cooking, and exploring all that Greenville has to offer. And she really loves baby goats. Follow her on Instagram at @scadventurer.

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