The Mom’s Guide to the Kansas City Zoo and Aquarium

This post is sponsored by the Kansas City Zoo & Aquarium.

Whether you have been going to the Kansas City Zoo and Aquarium for years or are visiting for the first time, there is always something new to explore. The new Sobela Ocean Aquairum will bring brand new exhibits and animal friends to explore, and is included with your Zoo admission.

Check out our guide to a stress-free, maximum-fun visit!

What Kids Will Love

There are more than 10,000 animals from over 400 species for your kids to watch and learn from while they interact in their own habitats. My kids love seeing the monkeys jumping from tree to tree, the red pandas relaxing on a branch or getting up close and personal with the farm animals. Throughout the day there are Animal Chats, feedings and Q&As that include one of the Zoo’s knowledgeable guides walking you through facts about specific animals. Check out the daily schedule to plan your day.

In addition to the animals, riding the train around the Zoo is always a highlight. We typically venture to the railroad when our legs need a break from walking. There is also a great playground near the barn animals that has activities for all ages. 

Photo Credit: The Kansas City Zoo & Aquarium

The brand new 650,000-gallon Sobela Ocean Aquarium is now open and features six different zones with 34 exhibits highlighting how ocean currents connect animals across the globe. Entrance into the Sobela Ocean Aquarium is included with your Zoo admission, but free timed reservations are required for entry. Reserve your spot here. 

What Moms Will Love at the Zoo
photo op at Kansas City Zoo

Planning for your trip to the Zoo is imperative. We typically know our route ahead of time and review the schedule of events to plan around any animal feedings or animal chats. 

Grab a Zoo Map

Don’t forget to pick up a Zoo map when you enter the park. There are also enlarged maps all over the park showing you the various routes you can take, what animals are coming up, restrooms, dining options and transportation.

In 2023, the Zoo launched a new digital map that shows current information about which animals are on habitat, as well as expanded info about attractions and amenities. And if you’re at the Zoo, open the map on your mobile phone view your own location as you move through the park.

Photo Ops

Be on the lookout for all of the fun photo ops around the park aside from snapping a shot in front of all of the animals. They have ‘face in hole’ photo areas, murals and animal statues you can pose with.


Forgot something in your car? You’re welcome to retrieve items from your vehicle and return to the Zoo within the same day as long as your hand is stamped by the main entrance attendant before you leave.

Family Friendly Amenities

Are you nursing? Nursing rooms are found at Helzberg Penguin Plaza and at Elephant Expedition. Family restrooms and changing rooms also available. The restrooms have toddler hand washing steps.

Variety KC communication board at Kansas City ZooAccommodations for All Kids

There are also several Variety KC Communication Boards throughout the park that are there to help every kid be active and able to communicate either verbally or non verbally.

Location and Parking

The Kansas City Zoo and Aquarium is located in historic Swope Park with easy access from I-435 and 71 Highway. It is just minutes from downtown, the Country Club Plaza, and surrounding metro suburbs.

Parking at the zoo is always free. As always, the earlier you get there, the closer you will be to the entrance. There is a drop off zone right in front of the Zoo if you have to park further away. 

Admission Cost

The Zoo is open, Monday-Friday, 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday, 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Tickets are $18-23 for Adults, $17-$20 for Children 3-18, and kids under 2 are free. If you are a resident of Jackson or Clay County, your zoo tickets are discounted!

You can add a ride voucher for $8-$11 for the African Tram, KCZoo Railroad, Sky Safari, Endangered Species Carousel and Kenyan Cruise. 


Are you an avid zoo goer? If so, becoming a Friend of the Zoo will definitely get you more bang for your buck! We join every year, and it pays for itself in just two visits! Your membership includes discounts on concessions and retail, discounts on special events, carousel rides, KCZoo Railroad rides and more. Your membership helps support the Zoo’s Conservation Fund, preserving wildlife at home and around the world. Learn more about membership here.

Stroller and Wheelchair Accessibility

The zoo is extremely accessible to navigate with a stroller or a wheelchair. There are many options available to rent when coming to the zoo, single and double strollers, wagons, wheelchairs and electric scooters. For more information on pre-reservation, click here.

Food Policies and Purchase Options

The Zoo offers a variety of themed dining options for full meals, snacks and sweet treats. We love to pack a picnic and dine al fresco at many of the picnic style seating areas around the park. My kids’ special treat is always a snow cone from Kona Ice.

Birthday Parties

Talk about a wild birthday party option! Did you know you can host a daytime birthday party or an overnight bash as the zoo? Learn more.

Special Events

If you are looking for summer fun, the Zoo has amazing camps for kids ranging from ages 5-17. They are full day and full of education and fun. During the school year, they offer day camps for out of school days or breaks.

In addition to hosting an event at the zoo, there are special events throughout the year hosted by the Zoo to fundraise for new exhibits and expansions. Jazzoo is one of the hottest tickets in town. Sign up for Zoo emails to stay up to date on all fun events! 

Mom Tip: Get There Early!

Get to the zoo early when the animals are most active. This is especially true in the summer when the days get hot and animals retreat to the shade. 

In the mornings, zoo staff put out food for the elephants, orangutans, camels and more. It’s always fun to see them eating and the monkeys playing with their food. Depending when you go, you can sometimes stumble upon animal care specialists giving the elephants baths.

Regardless when you visit the zoo it is sure to be a wild time and always a new adventure! 

Emily Gafford
I am a mom of two girls, 4 & 6 and a baby boy who arrived in June as well as our fur-baby, Walter. I've been married to my southern raised, patient and silly husband for 8 years. Born and raised in Kansas City, I am naturally an avid Chiefs fan. I am the Director of E-Commerce & Retail at J. Rieger & Co. distillery and thoroughly enjoy being a full time-working mom. I am an open book and hope that my real stories of what works for our family and the raw emotions that come with each of life's curve balls helps guide other families along their journey. Being a Mom of two wildly active girls, one whose spirit needs some extra attention, I am currently navigating child advocacy and support for parents who lean on professional resources for children with behavioral disorders. I love getting lost in the kitchen or a book, going on walks and spending time with friends & family.