Zoos in New Jersey have it all—whether you are looking to get up close to an exotic species, learn more about wildlife education, or pet a friendly farm animal, you can do it in the Garden State. And with COVID-19 still hanging around, a trip to the zoo is a safe outing, since it’s mainly outside and they are open with timed ticketing or capacity limits (though it’s best to check with them before you head out). Scroll down to find the perfect zoo in New Jersey to visit in 2021.
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featured photo via @capemaycountyzoo
13 Zoos in New Jersey That Are Worth The Trip
Part of the South Mountain Recreation Complex, Essex County’s Turtle Back Zoo in New Jersey is one of the most well-known and loved facilities to expose your children to wildlife from around the world. Check out the red panda, big cats, sea turtles, sea lions, stingray touch station, giraffes, barnyard animals, as well as animals that call NJ home, including bears and wolves. And even if you’ve been here a bunch of times, there’s always something new—the zoo recently upgraded their wildly popular African Adventures section with the addition of Shores of Africa, an indoor exhibit of African penguins and pelicans, and features a hatchery. If you’re up for more fun, check out the rest of the complex, including a zip line adventure and the Regatta playground.
560 Northfield Avenue, West Orange, NJ 07052
The 85 acres of wildlife exhibits make this zoo in southern New Jersey a staple for animal lovers. And did we mention it’s free? You have access to over 550 animals spanning 250 species, including cheetahs, red pandas, camels, snow leopards, lemurs, zebras, bears, and a variety of monkeys. Littles will love going on a scavenger hunt (download a template from their website) and exploring this Cape May treasure.
707 North Route 9, Cape May, NJ 08210
Also known as the Bergen County Zoological Park, your family will leave with a heightened appreciation for the world’s wild places. Besides exploring “New World” animal exhibits of North and South America, with Andean Condors, American Alligators, South American Pampas, and many more. This New Jersey zoo operates train rides, carousel rides, pony rides, and free live animal shows in the zoo amphitheater. This accredited animal sanctuary is dedicated to fostering relationships between the public and our animal neighbors to keep everybody educated and safe. The zoo is currently free and operating in its off-season schedule; look out for their spring hours.
216 Forest Avenue, Paramus, NJ 07652
Discover over 100 native North American species in this record-breaking zoo in New Jersey founded in 1927 by Ralph and Elizabeth Space. With over 500 live animals, including monkeys, leopards, jaguars, coyotes, and buffalo, your family can spend the entire day engaged in wildlife fun while exploring the grounds and snagging priceless photo ops. Space Farms’ museum component comprises nine buildings that feature over 50 antique cars and motorcycles, vintage dolls, artifacts, and much more.
218 County Road 519, Wantage, NJ 07461
Popcorn Park is one of three shelters that comprise the Associated Humane Societies, the largest animal sheltering system in New Jersey. A visit to this sanctuary will allow your family to visit up close with various animals who have been taken into the facility that was once abandoned, injured, abused, or ill. Popcorn Zoo in New Jersey continues to do good for the Garden State’s wildlife, farm animals, and pets daily and teaches kids about the importance of helping these special creatures.
1 Humane Way, Forked River, NJ 08731
Visit the third floor of the Liberty Science Center to see the Wild About Animals exhibit, where your kids will spot cotton-top tamarin monkeys, naked mole rats, red-footed tortoises, and more. This Jersey City zoo has over one hundred animal species, and kids will have a ball watching the hermit crabs climb in the Hermit Crab Playground or a snake slither through a snake maze. And make sure to catch one of their Animal Encounter shows for more info about the animals.
222 Jersey City Blvd, Jersey City, NJ 07305
Though not your most traditional zoo in New Jersey, Lakota Wolf Preserve (the largest in the Northeast) is a treasured destination for animal lovers of all ages to experience the beauty and grace of these endangered creatures. Educational Wolf Watch Tours are lead by the facility’s two owners and allow families to learn about the wolves’ pack structure, eating habits, human interaction, and more fun facts in a safe and interactive environment. This exceptional wildlife experience is recommended for New Jersey families who are looking for a memorable way to appreciate our animal friends. Reservations must be made in advance, and there is a limit of 25 people per tour.
89 Mt Pleasant Road, Columbia, NJ 07832
If it’s a quiet, quaint, (and free) zoo you are looking for, Johnson Park Zoo in Middlesex County, New Jersey, is perfect for your family. This accessible park and zoo is an easy way to have a day of fun with your little ones. Located along the Raritan River, your kids will be able to come face to face with goats, llamas, pigs, and horses while mom enjoys the lovely scenery. After, check out the playground area and a family picnic around the park’s grill stations.
River Road, Piscataway, NJ 08854
Transport your family to another world all while staying in the comfort of your own vehicle. Six Flags offers a Safari Drive-Thru with over 1,200 animals from six continents. Watch tigers, bears, and elephants in their natural habitat during your 1.5-3 hour tour. Tickets must be purchased ahead of time, and reservations are required. The opening day for this drive-thru experience is March 20, 2021.
1 Six Flags Boulevard, Jackson, NJ 08527
The oldest zoo in New Jersey has free entry, letting you explore the habitats at your leisure or enjoy one of their zoo events. “Keeper Chats” are a great way for your kids to learn about our animal friends from professional zookeepers—your kids can see the skills it takes to care for a big black bear up close and personal. Make a day of it to enjoy the park picnic and enjoy a family lunch in one of the lovely picnic areas between exhibits.
45 Mayor Aitken Drive, Bridgeton, NJ 08302
Do you want to see lizards, snakes, insects, turtles, and mammals? Explore 4,700 square feet of exhibit space with 2,000 gallons of aquatic exhibits at this indoor zoo in New Jersey. If you don’t want to travel, Rizzo’s will come to you with their virtual zoom programs, accommodating families and groups. Currently, Rizzo’s Wildlife World is closed to the public, but you can coordinate private visits for a group of family or friends of up to 10-12 people ahead of time.
1 Gold Mine Road, Flanders, NJ 07836
Middlesex Turnpike, Woodbridge, NJ 07095
Forsgate Drive, Jamesburg/Monroe Township 08831