Best Zoo in Tennessee for Kids (Nashville Zoo Review)

If you’re looking for a fun day out with the kids, Nashville Zoo is the place to be! Boasting over 2,000 animals on display, it’s easy to see why it’s one of the best zoos in the state of Tennessee.

With roughly 16 million visitors a year, the city of Nashville has been voted one of the best places to visit in multiple publications. In addition to ranking as a hot spot for bachelorette parties and couple’s trips, Nashville is also a prime vacation destination for families traveling with kids.

With so many fun things to do downtown and in the outskirts of the city, Nashville provides visitors with lots of excitement and attractions.

In this post, I will review one of the BEST activities in Nashville for those traveling with kids. The Nashville Zoo offers families a day full of fun (and adventure) with amazing animals and thrilling rides.

So, continue reading below to find out all the reasons why we rank the Nashville Zoo as the best zoo in Tennessee for families!

(Some of the links in my posts are affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, I may receive a small compensation at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.)

Directions to the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere

If you are looking at a map of Nashville, you will find that the zoo is located just southeast of the city center.

map of Nashville Zoo surrounded by green leaves

Those traveling on I-65 or I-24 can access the Nashville Zoo off of the Harding Place Exit. You will then turn onto Nolensville Pike before shortly arriving at the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere.

Visitors who are driving on I-440 are able to access Nolensville Pike directly from the highway.

Tickets to the Nashville Zoo 

You can purchase tickets to the Nashville Zoo directly on their website or at the entrance when you arrive.

During part of the Covid pandemic, guests were asked to reserve their times online before visiting, but this is NOT the case anymore.

Prices

Prices for Nashville Zoo tickets can fluctuate depending on the day you plan to visit. Children who are younger than 2 years old receive free admission.

However, adults should prepare to pay $16-$23 for a visit. Children ages 2-12 are priced $4 lower than the adult ticket price for the day.

Basically, you can expect to pay a bit more for tickets if you are visiting on a weekend or during a peak time of year.

giant rock with picture of giraffes and words Nashville Zoo at Grassmere

In addition to these ticket prices, guests should also prepare to pay $8 per vehicle for parking at the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere.

The parking lot has plenty of room, and it isn’t a long walk to the gates. You will also find that the lots are labeled with different animals to help you remember where you parked.

Discounts and Coupons

If you are searching for promo codes for the Nashville Zoo, there are several ways you could score a discount on your tickets.

leopard with brown spots laying on a large tree branch at the Nashville Zoo

Those traveling in a group of 20 or more are eligible for a discounted ticket price of $14 for adults and $10 for children.

In addition, the Nashville Zoo offers a discount of up to 50% off for military personnel AND everyone in their party. Note that a military ID is required to obtain this discount.

Membership

Another great way to save money on tickets at the Nashville Zoo is by purchasing an annual membership. 

black bear walking on rocks with waterfalls in the background at the Nashville Zoo

Membership plans range from $75-$220, but they can be totally worth it if you plan to visit the zoo multiple times a year.

In addition to receiving free admission to the Nashville Zoo, members also receive the following benefits:

  • FREE parking
  • discount on retail purchases
  • reduced prices on concessions
  • discount on stroller/wheelchair rental
  • cheaper rates for additional guests
  • special rates for events
  • discounted admission at other zoos and aquariums

You can view the list of reciprocal zoos and aquariums here.

Animals at the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere

Most families choose to visit a zoo in order to observe animals in their natural habitat. The Nashville Zoo features an extensive list of animals. Some of the zoo’s animals you’ll find on your family trip include:

  • Masai Giraffe
  • Black Bears
  • Leopard
  • Tamarin
  • Cougar
  • Spider Monkeys
  • Red panda
  • Lemur
  • Rhinoceros
  • Tiger
  • Sloth 
  • Zebra
  • Stingray
  • Fish
  • Tortoise
  • Snake
  • Flamingo
  • Owl
  • Ostrich
  • Tarantula

Note that this is just a small list of some of our favorite animals at the Nashville Zoo. While visiting, you will see even more animals than the ones featured on this list.

Extra Things to Do at the Nashville Zoo 

In addition to viewing the animals, guests of the Nashville Zoo can participate in some extra activities that are FREE with your admission. These world-class attractions provide unique ways to have additional fun at the zoo. They include:

  • Petting zoo- features goats, alpaca, and tortoises
  • Playground- elaborate tree house style play area
  • Kangaroo Kickabout- unique experience where you can sometimes pet kangaroos
kangaroos laying in the sun at the Nashville Zoo

You can also purchase tickets for $2 a piece for the following extra activities:

  • Lorikeet Landing Bird Feeding- cost is 1 ticket
  • Tortoise feeding- cost is 1 ticket
  • Soaring Eagle Zip Line- cost is 4 tickets; must be 42 inches tall
  • Carousel- cost is 1 ticket
  • Train ride- cost is 1 ticket

During certain times of the year, the Nashville Zoo also offers events like Brew at the Zoo and Boo at the Zoo.

More Tennessee Zoos

If you’re wondering how the Nashville Zoo compares to other zoos in Tennessee, we will provide a brief overview below. Feel free to comment at the bottom of this post to share which zoo you think is the best in Tennessee.

  • Chattanooga Zoo – My family and I love the small size of the Chattanooga Zoo, which makes for an easy walk and a short tour. The Chattanooga Zoo features exciting animals like giraffes and orangutans plus big cats like cougars and jaguars. The Chattanooga Zoo also offers a kiddie train ride, carousel, petting zoo, and camel rides.
  • Memphis Zoo – The Memphis Zoo features lots of impressive wild animals like polar bears, lions, cheetahs, snow leopards, grizzly bears, giant pandas, Komodo dragons, and more. Plus, the Memphis Zoo offers extra entertainment like shows with sea lions and a petting zoo.
  • Zoo Knoxville Zoo Knoxville is a super fun, massive zoo to visit with Asian elephants, Malayan tigers, lions, and even more exotic animals. In addition to the large variety of animals, the Knoxville Zoo offers a splash pad and other fun activities for families. However, we find the Nashville Zoo’s layout to be much easier to tour, and it provides lots of shade for visitors.
  • Tennessee Aquarium – While technically not a zoo, the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga offers plenty of animal exhibits for visitors. Guests can view sea turtles, river otters, sharks, jellyfish, stingrays, and more. Plus, the Tennessee Aquarium features encounters with animals like butterflies, rays, and catfish. If you’re planning a trip to the Chattanooga area, we highly recommend adding the Tennessee Aquarium to your to-do list!

Hotels Near the Nashville Zoo

Our family’s favorite hotel in the Nashville area is the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center. This AMAZING hotel offers tons of restaurants and entertainment options.

It also features an indoor AND outdoor water park, which kids love! Gaylord Opryland is roughly a 20-minute drive to the Nashville Zoo. The drive is super easy for those not familiar with the area.

If you are searching for additional space for your stay, I highly recommend checking out VRBO Affiliate Link). You can find some incredibly luxurious houses on VRBO for super reasonable prices.

Final Review of the Best Zoo in Tennessee

Overall, the Volunteer State is home to a lot of great zoos, but we think the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere is one of the top zoos to visit on your Tennessee vacation. With so many different species of animals available for viewing, the Nashville Zoo provides a lot of exhibits without being overwhelming.

My family and I love the shaded walkways at the Nashville Zoo along with the wilderness theming. The extra activities like the kangaroo encounter and exciting rides make the zoo a great spot for kids of all ages.

wooden walkway lined with wooden fence on both sides with trees hanging over for shade

Additionally, you really can’t beat the cleanliness of the Nashville Zoo as it is one of the most well-kept family attractions we have visited! We highly recommend checking the Nashville Zoo for a really fun experience!

So, what do you think?

What’s the best zoo in Tennessee?

Comment below to share your pick!

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zoo with text overlay Visiting the Nashville Zoo Tennessee

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One Comment

  1. I just wanted to say thank you for mentioning the military discount! We almost crossed the zoo off our list due to pricing, however, with the military discount the zoo is much more affordable! Thank you!

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