This past weekend was a good one for Brandon so we decided to head down to the St Louis Zoo on Saturday. I love zoos and even though we’ve been in St Louis for almost two months now we still hadn’t made it down there. Since Brandon was feeling good and the weather was gorgeous we decided to take advantage of it all to go see the lions, tigers, and bears (oh my!). 

Well, the lions and tigers decided to stay in their dens since it was so hot and we didn’t get to see the bears due to time but we’re planning to go again in the fall when it’ll be a bit cooler for them. We did get to see a ton of other fun animals though so I’m definitely not complaining.

visiting st louis zoo

The St Louis Zoo is rated #1 in the USA by USA Today and it’s so easy to see why. I mean, I thought that Zoo Atlanta was fabulous but honestly, it has nothing on the St Louis Zoo. 

The St Louis Zoo is enormous with six animal territories plus other activities and exhibits. We were there for 3.5 hours (just the two of us) and missed somewhere around 35% of the animal exhibits. I’m guesstimating there, so it’s give or take a bit, but we missed a lot.

As soon as we arrived I made a beeline for the Red Rocks territory. Red Rocks is where the lions, tigers, jaguars, leopards, and pumas are on display in Big Cat Country while zebras, giraffes, bantengs, babirusas, gazelles, red kangaroos, warty pigs, takins, okapis, Somali wild asses and other hoofed beasts are in the Antelope Area. I have a borderline obsession with all things giraffe so they were my must-see. They were perfection!

giraffes at st louis zoo
giraffe exhibit at st louis zoo

No lie, we stayed there for at least 30 – 45 minutes watching them. Plus, fun story, when Brandon and I were just casually dating each other back in the day he took a trip to Albuquerque, NM and visited the Albuquerque Zoo. He took a TON of pictures of the giraffes and shared them on Facebook for me. The whole album was just giraffe after giraffe after giraffe, haha.

We did see other animals though, I promise.

animal exhibits at st louis zoo
tortoises at st louis zoo
takin at st louis zoo
sea lions at st louis zoo
sea lions sunbathing at st louis zoo

If you find yourselves planning a trip to the St Louis Zoo, I have a few top tips for you!

Things to know before visiting St Louis Zoo

Going in prepared will make the trip a lot more enjoyable, I promise.

Zoo admission is free but attractions are not

There is no admission fee to enter the St Louis Zoo but attractions are ticketed separately so if you want to ride the train or the carousel or see a show you’ll have to shell out a few bucks per person. Most things are only $3 or $4 per person or you can buy an adventure pass (currently $12.95 / person) which includes all the extra fun stuff.

Parking can be free too

Parking is $15 for a standard car in any of the zoo lots but there is plenty of free parking in the area, especially by the South Entrance. Look for parking in the small lots on Tamm Ave and you can park for free and get fun photos on the turtle and snake statues in the park. 

Visit in the spring or fall if you can 

If you’re visiting St Louis during the summer then obviously you’re out of luck but if you can visit during the spring or fall that’s definitely the way to go. It’s cooler then so the big cats and bears are more likely to be out. If you have to go in the summer, try to get there as early as possible to see the animals as many of them will go back into the shade once the heat of day strikes.

Bring your own food and drinks

You can bring small coolers, picnic baskets, or totes into the zoo so load up the goodies you’ll want for the day and bring them with you. St Louis Zoo is in Forest Park so some people like to pack their own lunch and then picnic in the park after spending the morning at the zoo. You don’t have to but it’s a great option! If you decide not to pack your own food there are plenty of dining options inside the zoo and as a bonus tip if you buy the large souvenir cup the vendors will refill it with water for free all day. Plus, the refills never expire so you can bring your cup back with you on future visits and get the same deal.

The train is nice, but not necessary

If you buy the adventure pass, the train is included. If not, it’s around $7 or $8 per person to ride. The entire ride takes about 15 minutes and takes you throughout the zoo. The train conductor shares information about the zoo but there’s no real tour guide and you often aren’t able to see many of the animals. It’s a nice break but it’s definitely not a must-see at the zoo.

Plan to spend at least 4 – 5+ hours at the zoo

You can see the zoo in less time but I highly recommend planning at least 4 – 5 hours of time inside the zoo to see the animals, watch the shows, and enjoy the attractions. Anything less than that and you’re going to miss out on a lot the zoo has to offer. As I mentioned, you’re welcome to bring your own food and drinks inside so back a tote or backpack and enjoy the day.

The top things you need to know before visiting St Louis Zoo, the number 1 zoo in the US! Via @honeyandpineco #stlzoo #stlzooday #explorestl #zoo

What’s your favorite thing to see or do at the zoo?