A Playground Within the Zoo

The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens

This playground is inside the zoo and requires zoo admission to play.

The playground at the zoo is my BFF. I don’t buy into the whole “We are here to see animals not play!” Philosophy. If that were the case – why have restaurants because y’know – we are here to see animals – not eat. Sometimes Play is just needed to burn off some energy to focus on those animals better just like sometimes food is needed to cure the grumbling tummy.

This is a very small play area. I believe that to be intentional to encourage short play periods so you walk the zoo and prevent over-crowding on the structure. I would say this is best suited for ages 1 through 5 at the oldest.

There is a spiderweb net, balance feature (pictured) and some monkey bars off to the side for older children.

There are steps, a climbing feature and two fast small slides on this structure. It’s short and sweet but perfect for the little ones.

There are lots of benches around in the play area – some shaded.


Located in an adjacent building and a snack bar is close by.


Relatively soft Mulch ground. No major safety concerns.

Great visibility from the benches- and there are usually tons of parents around the small structure – usually those with the smaller one year old zoo patrons – keeping an eye on things.

While it’s not gated in – the back is fenced with a large privacy fence so the only exit from the area is to walk past the benches.

Fun little turtle shells to climb into for great photo opp!

Use this play area to your advantage!! Let the kids play. Sit down and enjoy a soft pretzel with cheese or a funnel cake yourself.

The playground is located in the Children’s Zoo area toward the front of the zoo. Make sure you stop by and Pet the Goats (one of our favorite activities!).

Quick Tip – Early tends to be best for goat petting. The heat of the day will drive them inside of their barn.

If you have not been to the Cincinnati Zoo – it is well worth the cost of admission.

Some tips!

1) You can bring in your own food and drinks! Take advantage of this. There are a lot of seating areas throughout the zoo to sit down and enjoy some snacks or a meal. My favorite place to sit is at the Base Camp Cafe overlooking the Savannah. (which is actually where the old entrance to the zoo was – if you remember having to actually park inside the zoo. The Savannah was the parking lot!)

2) There is a “nursing nest” under the Base Camp Cafe. Comfortable nursing/bottle feeding area for moms + changing area.

3) get there early on busy days!! If the weather is nice and it’s the weekend – they do sometimes run out of parking during peak

4) Feeding the giraffes for three dollars is a great value. You get two feedings for that price. Your children (and quite possibly you) will be awe struck.

5) Consider the package ticket if you have small kids. It allows for unlimited rides on the train and carousel. The carrousel at the zoo is unique in that instead of horses – you ride animals. Your kid may want to take a turn riding several different animals which will make you glad you purchased the package deal. Buy your tickets online ahead of time! This will not only get you a discount but you will avoid the ticketing line.