Among Atlanta, Georgia‘s most popular attractions, Zoo Atlanta is one of the most beloved. The zoo started as a traveling circus that eventually ran out of money and was purchased by a wealthy Atlantan. It was there, in 1889, that the Zoo Atlanta opened in Grant Park, one of Atlanta’s oldest neighborhoods. Local philanthropist Asa G. Candler, Jr., of Coca-Cola fame, added to the zoo’s family when he donated animals from his private collection.
What to See at Zoo Atlanta
An infant gorilla named Willie B. joined Zoo Atlanta in 1961 and became the zoo’s most beloved resident. The zoo became privatized in the 1980s, which led to further improvements in the facilities. Willie B. passed away at the age of 42 but is memorialized with a statue.
The new millennium saw the arrival of giant pandas Lun Lun and Yang Yang, on loan from China. In 2013, two panda cubs were born, making them some of the first to be born in captivity. The sun bears and giraffes are also worth a stop, along with African elephants and orangutans. There’s also a new reptile pavilion.
Events and Programming at Zoo Atlanta
As a destination that appeals to young visitors, Zoo Atlanta is a popular attraction for both families and school groups. There are also events throughout the year including a Halloween trick-or-treating night and “Brew at the Zoo,” a beer festival for adults.
Tips for Visiting Zoo Atlanta
Zoo Atlanta is located at 800 Cherokee Ave SE, Atlanta, GA 30315. It is open daily from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm, but may depend on the season. Parking is available for free on-site, as well as free street parking in Grant Park.
Ticket prices start at $24.99 for adults and $18.99 for children, with discounts for seniors, college students, and the military. Zoo Atlanta is included in the Atlanta CityPASS and there are special ticket prices for the Library Pass program. Get your Zoo Atlanta Admission before you go.
Getting to Zoo Atlanta
If you’ll be taking public transportation, take MARTA bus route #32 from the Five Points or Civic Center stations. Get off at the Boulevard and Ormewood stop. The parking lot is now paid, charging $3 per hour up to $12 for the day. Rideshare apps and the Relay bike share program are additional options.
Where to Eat Near Zoo Atlanta
If you’d rather not leave, Zoo Atlanta has its own concessions inside the park. Nourish Cafe has the most options, including burgers and flatbreads. Fro-Zen and Flamingo Joe’s are stalls selling frozen treats and cold drinks.
Willie B’s Pizza, honoring the zoo’s mascot, has pizza, salad, and fries while Wild Burger has both traditional and vegetarian burgers. There’s also the Sweetwater Beer Garden and the Ooz Grilled Cheese food truck.
Outside of the zoo, you’ll find many locally-owned restaurants. Grant Park Coffeehouse is across the street from the entrance and has coffee, pastries, and sandwiches. Six Feet Under has rooftop views of Oakland Cemetery and a seafood-focused menu. Ria’s Bluebird is one of the most beloved brunch spots in town.
Where to Stay Near Zoo Atlanta
Looking to stay near Zoo Atlanta? Look no further than the Grant Park neighborhood. The Social Goat Bed and Breakfast is a short walk away from the entrance so you won’t need your car. Perks include free parking and WiFi, daily breakfast, and animals living onsite. This area also has a number of rentals on sites like Airbnb and Booking.
If you’d prefer a standard hotel, the Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Atlanta Downtown South is near the highway in the Summerhill neighborhood. It offers daily breakfast, a fitness center, a business center, and free WiFi.