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10 Tips For Visiting The Nashville Zoo …From My Family To Yours

My family loves the Nashville Zoo.

It’s a beautifully designed oasis, carved from a family farm that was donated to the city.

The Nashville Zoo at Grassmere is easy to find on Nolensville Road, just south of Nashville off I-65 OR I-24.

Here’s a map and directions to the Zoo in Nashville.

The Zoo is open every day except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day.

Here are our 10 “insider tips” for making the most of your Nashville Zoo visit:

#1 – Go early or late, but never in-between.

If you arrive promptly at the 9AM opening, you’ll find easy parking and a quiet mist over the trails. By 10AM, the school buses unload and baby strollers crowd the walkways. Or, get there after 1PM when the mothers take young children home to nap.

#2 – Bring plenty of bottled water or drinks along.

Tennessee summers are hot and humid, and the Nashville Zoo involves a lot of walking.

#3 – Think comfortable.

Take sun hats, track shoes for adults, strollers or Little Tikes pull-along wagons for kids. The Zoo rents cool canopied strollers if you forget yours ($7 single stroller, $9 double.)


#4 – Have a few dollar bills handy.

Nectar for feeding the birds in Lorikeet Landing costs $1/cup (and boy, do those greedy birds gobble it up!). Tokens for the Nashville Zoo’s Wild Animal Carousel are $2/ride. We take our own drinks and snacks, but soda machines and ice cream kiosks are sprinkled throughout the Zoo. Anyone care for a $4 Icee?


#5 – Don’t miss the Grassmere Historic Farm. 

Must see at the Grassmere Farm: draft horses and sheep, the beautiful Croft House, kitchen garden, and cemetery. We didn’t even know the Grassmere Farm was there our first few visits!

Here’s a Nashville Zoo map, so you don’t miss anything!


#6 – Take a break… or two!

I noticed many new benches scattered along the trails. Other good spots for shady breaks include the Cracker Barrel rocking chairs around the Carousel, the safari tents on the African Elephant Savannah, the covered amphitheatre used for animal shows, and anywhere along the peaceful Asian Bamboo Trail.

#7 – Find a spot to enjoy a cool breeze.

The indoor Creatures of the Americas area is dark and air-conditioned. I also noticed that Alligator Cove and the Bamboo Trail‘s hut both have powerful new fans. In the summertime, Publix sponsors a cooling mist tent between the playground and the Carousel.


#8 – Don’t weasel out of the Zoo’s awesome playground.

(I’ve tried.) Kids love it.

Here’s our family review of the Nashville Zoo playground.

In the toddler area of the Nashville zoo playground

#9 – Split 1 long Zoo day into 2 shorter adventures, especially if you have small children.

Suggested visit #1:

From the meerkats down the rest of the animal walk, followed by the Critter Encounters petting zoo and a walk through the indoor Creatures of the Americas. If possible, end with one of the shows held in the amphitheater.

Suggested visit #2:


#10 – Buy a membership!

Did you know you can “try before you buy?” If — at the end of your visit — you’ve decided you would like to return, the Zoo will apply that day’s entrance fees toward a new membership.


Here’s a current list of all the animals at the Nashville Zoo and a schedule for all the Keeper Talks.

I hope these tips make your visit to the Nashville Zoo even MORE fun. Share your own zoo tips in the comments below!

More Fun Stuff About The Zoo In Nashville