Everyone loves animals, right? To see lots of animals, load up and head out for one of the numerous zoos, safaris for a day trip dedicated to animals. From native animals of Texas to exotic animals from across the world, visitors can visit traditional zoos, rescue zoos and wildlife safaris across Central Texas. Here’s the best zoos near Austin.
Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch near San Antonio
Explore a 450-acre property to spot animals, like zebras and giraffes and this adventure will take about one to two hours to complete the 6-mile journey. In total, the Natural Bridge Wildlie Ranch features 500 animals from 40 different species. This safari doesn’t allow feeding from your vehicle.
Located at 26515 Natural Bridge Caverns in San Antonio. This is northwest of San Antonio and west of New Braunfels. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. from November to February, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for the rest of the year and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on summer weekends. Adult admission (12+) starts at $28.99 and kids start at $19.99 (3-11).
Cameron Park Zoo in Waco
The Cameron Park Zoo features three main sections, an Asian Forest, an African Savanna and the Brazos River Country. The Brazos River bisects Waco and the animals in this section of the zoo are native to this area of Texas. This is one of the best zoos near Austin.
Find the gibbons and capybaras along with a bald eagle habitat. There’s a native animal section with bears, native fish and marine animals and courgars. Finally find the giraffes, rhinos and zebras in the African savanna.
Located at 1701 N. 4th St. in Waco. Open Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Adult admission (13+) is $14, kids 3 to 12 $10 and under 2 and under are free.
Exotic Resort Zoo in Johnson City
Drive through a park featuring hoofed animals and large birds, like emus, and don’t forget the favorite zebras. Take a guided tour in an open-air, covered trailer or drive through in your own vehicle. This safari allows feeding from vehicle.
Located at 235 Zoo Trail in Johnson City. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Adult admission (12+) 18.95 and kids (2-12) are $15.95.
Animal World and Snake Farm Zoo in New Braunfels
Don’t let the name confuse you, more than a snake farm (though it features a lot of reptiles). Find bisons to hyenas to capybara to macaws. It offers some unusal animals as well, like the binturong and coati. The Animal World and Snake Farm Zoo is home to several cats, like lions.
Private animal enconters start $50 for a session with a host of animals to choose from, like the fennec fox, corn snakes and red ruffed lemur.
Located at 5640 North Interstate 35 in New Braunfels. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (and 7 p.m. for the summer and school breaks). Adult admission (12+) is $19.99 and kids (3-12) are $15.99.
As a zoo full of rescue animals, it houses over 300 animals from 100 different species, like lions, reptiles, bears. The Austin Zoo hold zoo keeper talks regularly during the day. Animals encounters include capybara and tortouise. This facility also features a train.
Located at 10808 Rawhide Trail in Southwest Austin. Open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. (and 5 p.m. in the winter). Adult admission (12+) is $18.95 and kids (2-12) are $1.95.
Not just fish, find lemurs, amphibians and parakeets. Additionally see sharks, tropical and cold water fish. The Austin Aquarium features animal encounters with several animals to choose from, like fish (including the shark) lemurs, birds and even a sloth.
Located at 13530 N. Hwy 183 #101 in Austin. Open Sunday to Thursday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Adult admission is $22.95 and kids are $17.95.
Capital of Texas Zoo in Bastrop
With over 500 animals see hippos, lions and more. The Capitol of Texas Zoo also offers affordable animal feedings. Animal encounters include guinnea pigs, dingho puppies, fallow deer and prairie dogs and the price starts at $6.50
Located at 376 A Jenkins Road in Cedar Creek, east of Austin. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Adult admission (12+) is $15 and kids (2-11) are $10.
Topsey Exotic Ranch and Drive Thru Safari in Copperas Cove
With 350 acres, drive through a safari with zebras, camels and even peacocks. Feeding is allowed at Topsey Exotic Ranch.
Located at 945 County Road 118 in Copperas Cove, west of Austin. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Adult admission (13+) is $14 and kids (3 to 12) are $12.
Franklin Drive Thru Safari in Franklin
Drive through an 100-acre property to see exotic animals, like camels. The Franklin Drive Thru Safari also features a exotic aviary and a reptile house. Specialized animals feed starts at $2.
Located at 4324 W. Hwy 79 in Franklin, northeast of Austin. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. General admission is $20 per person and kids 2 and younger are free.
This drive through safari offers a herds of hoofed animals along with zebras, camels and even kangaroo. In addtion to the drive through safari, it offers a walk through section with animals. The Sanctuary Serengeti features a petting zoo with goats, pigs and sheep.
Located at 250 Plum Church Rd., West Point.
Closed for 2023.
Aggieland Safari in Bryan
With over 700 animals (with babies throughout the season) in a complex of over 250 acres, you can spend half the day exploring. It’s a walk-thru zoo paired with a drive-thru wildlife safari.
Head to the adventure zoo first to see the hippos, giraffes, reptiles along with birds and more. Purchase some lettuce for animal feeding, like the giraffes and tortoises. Birdseed sticks are also available for purchase.
Located at 18074 FM 974, Bryan. Open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (last car through the gates at 4 p.m.) Adult admission is $22 and kids (3 -12) are $20. Online discounts available.
Buena Vista Safari in Evant
With 23 different species from 10 different countries, see hoofed animals from across the world. Though Buena Vista Safari is also home to favorites like zebra and ostrich. This facilty is more than a drive through safari and offers an RV park along with cabins on site.
Located at 1830 S. U.S. Hwy 281, Evant. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Adult admission is $15 and kids (3 -12) are $12.