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! With over 2,000 animals on display, there’s something for everyone.

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 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.


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. The Nashville Zoo features an extensive list of animals, including:

  • Giraffe
  • Bear
  • Leopard
  • Tamarin
  • Cougar
  • Spider monkey
  • 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 attractions include:

  • Petting zoo- features goats, alpaca, and tortoises
  • Playground- elaborate tree house style play area
  • Kangaroo encounter- 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:

  • Bird feeding- cost is 1 ticket
  • Tortoise feeding- cost is 1 ticket
  • Zipline- 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.

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

The Nashville Zoo at Grassmere tops our list for best zoo to visit on your Tennessee vacation. It offers more activities and animals than the Chattanooga Zoo. Additionally, we find it easier to tour than Zoo Knoxville.

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

I loved the shaded walkways at the Nashville Zoo along with the wilderness themed decor. The extra activities like the kangaroo encounter and rides make the zoo a great spot for kids of all ages.

You also can’t beat the cleanliness of the Nashville Zoo as it is one of the most well-kept family attractions we have visited.

What is your favorite part of the Nashville Zoo?

Comment below to share it with us!

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zoo with text overlay Visiting the Nashville Zoo Tennessee

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