Miami Metro Zoo – Pioneer for Cage-less Zoos

Few zoos truly can call themselves cage-less. Yet many (too many) pretend to fall into that category. In my opinion, long gone are the days of where animals are boxed into small cages where they stressfully pace back and forth from one short end to the other. Miami Metro Zoo can definitely be placed above the rest and put on the same pedestal   as San Diego Zoo and Bronx Zoo, to name of few. These Zoo Giants are truly the best there is and we were lucky enough to go on a family adventure to Miami Zoo. 

miami metro zoo
My kids have been to so many zoos and animal parks that it takes a lot to really excite us these days. However, aside from the wide open spaces for the animals, I have to say we were thoroughly impressed with the attraction as a whole rather than just another zoo.

What To Do and See at Miami Metro Zoo:

1. Animals – Before you do anything, get the zoo map. It’s super helpful and can sometimes speed up restless kids to their favorite animals.

metro zoo miami

2. Feeding the animals – Also, except some amazing surprises along the way. Find out which animals can be fed by guests the day of your visit. This can literally be the highlight of your kids day. My son was able to feed a rhinoceros! A rhinoceros. This blew me away. He hand fed it leaves. There are a few stations throughout the zoo. (For each animal feeding there is a an extra price from $3 – $5)

things to do with kids in miami

3. Children’s zoo – This was super fun for the kids. The animals are so docile and domesticated that they simply hung out letting everyone brushing them. Which is a good thing, we didn’t have to worry about them charging or doing anything that can traumatize my baby for life.

4. Exhibits – there are four major exhibits. You can either focus on the favorites first and if you are up for it, and not too tired hitting the ones you wanted to see least towards the end.

How to Get Around Miami Zoo: 

1. Walking Path – the main path is about 4.5 miles covering all the zoo territory. If you’re up for a good walking day, this is definitely the way to go. We were lucky enough that it was an overcast day and the sun didn’t blaze down our necks. The weather as they say in photograph’s world was perfect for picture taking and weather too!

Paid Modes of Transportation around the Zoo

2. Monorail – ($3 per person) this is the train system runs every 30 minutes from the four stations, the four main exhibits. It’s a great idea, however, if you arrive right when it leaves – do you really want to stand around and lose 30 minutes of your day. Needless to say, we missed it each and every time.  You can take this as many times as you like during the day without extra payment.

3. Tram – ($4.95 per person) This train on wheels tour is NOT a get-on-get-off type of a ride. It’s a great way to see all that the zoo has to offer, as a sightseeing tour. But then you will still either walk, take the monorail or cycle around.

4. Cycle Rentals – ($22 small/ $32 large for 2 hours) In theory this is a great way to get around. You can fit a family of 4 easily on the small and up to 8 people on the larger one.

However, the huge drawback for me is that the initial price is for two hours only. No one will ever use this for two hours. You need to have it for at least 4-6 hours and then the price becomes really hefty. I found this to be a huge disappointment.

Just going to the children’s zoo, you don’t use it for one hour because the kids play inside and there is a fun playground where they burn off even more energy.

Plus, watching all the people cycling, the ones doing the work, actually seem to exert more energy than walking around the zoo. Granted the kids get to rest, which is a huge deal. But isn’t that what strollers are good for?

My Take On It:

We really enjoyed ourselves. The Rhino feeding was by far the best thing to do and also the children’s zoo where they have hands on interaction with some animals.  There are tons of great exhibits that I wouldn’t miss. If you don’t think you can do the whole zoo (it’s quite large) I recommend deciding with your family which exhibits you’d like to see and spend more time around there.

I was a quite disappointed about the cycle rental. The price is high enough to make it a one day rental rather than tack on the hourly fees. But in the end we were grateful we decided to do the zoo by foot. We took our time, had the kids run around in the play areas which are scattered throughout the zoo.

But best of all, the animals’ cage-less surroundings really made it wonderful to see them relaxed.

Important Information for Miami  Zoo:

Zoo Miami
Hours: Mon – Sun: 9:30 – 17:30
Address: 12400 SW 152 Street, Miami 33177
Phone: 305-251-0400
Cost: Adult (13+) $15.95 / Child (3-12) $11.95 / Children 2 and under   FREE “+ tax”

I worked with Visit Florida and Miami and Beaches to help me organize this trip and activities for my family. Both were extremely helpful in giving advice and making our trip wonderful!


About Marina Villatoro

Marina Kuperman Villatoro CEO of, a travel resource site to inspire families to travel with kids of all ages. Marina has been an expat 20+ years in Central America raising 2 boys in a multicultural, trilingual household. She travels all over the world with her family to give first hand experiences of where to eat, stay and play with kids. Needless to say, it’s never boring! Join Marina on Facebook and Twitter for more unique and boutique family travel!

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