ZooAmerica in Hershey, PA identifies as a “North American Wildlife Park.” In other words, it’s a zoo full of animals found natively in North America! What started as a private collection of animals has become a family-friendly attraction with a focus on education and conservation that brings a simple joy to visitors. Want to know what to expect if you bring the kids for the day? Read on for our full ZooAmerica review!
Know Before You Go!
Is ZooAmerica near HersheyPark?
ZooAmerica is situated amidst all the action in Hershey, PA. Yes, it sits right next to Hersheypark, with a walkway directly connecting the two parks, and just down the road from most of the other main attractions in the area! It’s easy to find and get to and the area is safe and family-friendly.
201 Park Avenue
Hershey, PA 17033
How much are tickets?
Regular tickets (ages 9-61) $15
Junior tickets (ages 3-8) $13
Senior tickets (ages 62+) $13
Children 2 and under are free.
Behind the scenes tours are $100/per person.
Hersheypark passholders are free. Guests with an active Hersheypark ticket for the day may also enter ZooAmerica free of charge through the bridge connecting the 2 locations during their visit.
ZooAmerica offers their own annual pass program with prices starting at $50. The pass includes year round admission, discounts, and exclusive events. ZooAmerica does also participate in the AZA reciprocal admission program in the “100% & 50%” category.
Group discounts are available for groups of 15 or more people.
Find full, up to date information on cost and purchase tickets on the ZOOAMERICA SITE.
What ages are appropriate for visitors?
Zoos are fun for all! Bring your baby, bring your grandma… Everyone loves an otter!
Behind the scenes tours are recommended for ages 3 and up.
When Is ZooAmerica open?
The Hershey Zoo is open year round!
Be sure to check their site before visiting. Opening seems to be consistently at 10:00 am, but closing varies by season and ranges from 4:30 to 7:00 pm.
They have an easy to use interactive calendar available HERE so you can check your date!
Where do I park?
They have their own FREE PARKING LOT. It’s a small lot next to the entry building and gift shop. If this lot gets full, the nearby Hershey Press Building also offers free parking.
If you’re coming from the highway, versus the actual streets of Hershey, the turn in to the lot can sneak up on you. When you see the building, it’s coming. Slow down.
Also do not drive into the lot using the out lane. I’m not saying I’ve done this, I’m just saying- okay, fine, I’ve totally done this. Be a better driver than I am.
Inside Hershey Zoo
What’s it like inside the zoo?
The zoo in general is very peaceful. It’s on the small side as far as zoos go at 11 acres in size. Plan for your visit to take an hour or two, depending on how invested you are in stopping to watch the animals. (You could probably power walk it in 20 minutes if you didn’t stop to look at any animals.) There is some noise from the nearby theme park and streets, but nothing shocking or distruptive
Paths are paved and easy to navigate, although there are some small hills and a series of ramps.
The first indoor exhibit tends to be warm and humid to accommodate the animals housed there. The second building has a small entry area with desert animals and then you continue through into a completely dark area to check out all kinds of nocturnal creatures! Both buildings are able to be avoided if either atmosphere is a concern, like if you have a toddler who is fearful in the dark. Entering and exiting the buildings are easy.
The majority of the zoo is outdoors. Dress and prepare for the weather. Wear sunscreen.
All walkways and visitor areas have been clean any time I’ve visited. I can’t think of any notable issues as far as cleanliness.
How is the service?
The staff at ZooAmerica in Hershey, PA have always been nothing but kind. Required interactions are at the ticket desk. The rest of your trip around the zoo is self-guided, though staff are located through out and happy to answer questions and interact!
Getting personal here, but…
The bathrooms are meh. They’re typical public restrooms that show their age and use, with one set of stalls available in the welcome building and another set, including a family restroom, about halfway through the loop. I appreciate not having to drag my 3 year old all the way back to the welcome building when he decides he needs to pee RIGHT NOW thanks to that second bathroom.
Changing tables are available in both locations.
Bathrooms are definitely not nursing friendly if you’re looking for a quiet place to sit- but the restrooms that are about halfway through have benches outside and the whole building is offset from the path and would give you a few minutes of quiet, if needed.
Is food available at Hershey Zoo?
Basic kid-friendly options (chicken nuggets, hot dogs, fries…) are available “seasonally” – think summer time and weekends. If you’re an off-season visitor, do not rely on food being available, unless you want to eat from a vending machine.
Picnic tables and benches are available. You are welcome to bring in your own food. Be aware that bags will be inspected when entering.
What animals are at Hershey Park Zoo?
Of course, when you come to the zoo you’re there to see the animals! All visitors are welcome to spend as much time as they’d like observing the over 200 North American animals on exhibit! Expect to see bears, prairie dogs, mountain lions, etc. Monkeys, giraffes, elephants, and the like are not native to this continent and will not be found here. Their MAP lists all of the animals you may see.
There are opportunities available to get a better look with binocular viewers and a chance to buy some food for the fish, ducks, and geese!
What other activities are available at ZooAmerica?
Three behind the scenes tours are available: Early bird, After hours, and Photography. All three offer an opportunity to enter areas not normally available to the public and get up close and personal with the animals! You can find more information about those TOURS ON THEIR SITE!
They also offer group programs, birthday party options (what a neat party idea for an animal lover!), and ZooCamp during the summer!
What items am I going to have to buy when my child sees the souvenir shop?
A small souvenir shopping area is available in the entry building. They have all the classics like tees, stuffed animals, etc. Pricing is on par for usual attraction souvenirs.
What restaurants are near ZooAmerica? How about hotels and other attractions?
You’re in Hershey, PA! HERSHEYPARK, HERSHEY GARDENS, and CHOCOLATE WORLD are all a stone’s throw away. The TANGER OUTLETS are a hotspot for shoppers and are just down the road. If you’re looking for more sophisticated fun, check out HERSHEY THEATER, THE HERSHEY STORY MUSEUM, or the AACA ANTIQUE AUTO MUSEUM.
There are plenty of restaurants in the area, from big chains to family owned. There is a nice Red Robin 5 minutes away if you’re someone who wants familiar and fast. If you want to try something different, I highly recommend HOULIHAN’S in the Hershey Press Building or THE CHOCOLATE AVE GRILL!
Want to make it a weekend away or family vacation? There are a variety of chain hotels in the area, but I have to recommend my (somewhat obvious) favorites. THE HOTEL HERSHEY is classy and houses their exclusive Chocolate Spa, a kids’ club, and includes free resort benefits, among other luxuries. HERSHEY LODGE (my real favorite) is cozy and beautiful and you’ll have access to amenities and bonuses such a resort benefits, an indoor water park, and golf options.
Is it worth it?
Our family thoroughly enjoys ZooAmerica in Hershey, PA. It’s a great way to spend an hour or two and get some fresh air and animal education! We most enjoy pairing it with lunch and a trip to Hershey’s Chocolate World for a relaxing afternoon of making memories.
Have you been to the Hershey Zoo? What do you think? If you enjoyed this ZooAmerica review, check out our other REVIEWS, too!