While Hersheypark is a fun, family trip all on its own, be sure to allow time to visit ZooAmerica too! Located within the Hershey amusement park, ZooAmerica is a fantastic zoo in PA that is open year-round!
I am a Sweetest Families Ambassador and receive free admission to share my experiences. All opinions are 100% my own.
ZooAmerica was founded in 1910 by Milton Hershey himself so it will soon celebrate its 110 birthday! With small beginnings, it now covers 11 acres and features over 75 species and is home to more than 200 animals.
When my kids were younger, we had season passes and spent quite a bit of time there. Of course, those are the stories where they spent most of their time chasing squirrels and finding ants on the ground!
But, I promise there is so much more to look at than animals you can find in your own backyard. In fact, ZooAmerica is home to many rare and endangered animals. My favorite part of ZooAmerica, though, is the fact that they are committed to the conservation of North American wildlife and habitats.
The animals that you’ll see when you visit this PA zoo are all native to North America. As a bonus, all the plants and landscaping are also native to North America.
It’s an exciting and educational opportunity to learn more about the continent of North America and how we can do our part to help preserve it.
What Animals are at ZooAmerica?
The accredited zoo is broken down into different regions of North America: Southern Swamps, Great Southwest, Eastern Woodlands, Big Sky Country, and the Northlands.
Based on the names of the regions, you can probably correctly guess that you’ll find animals that live in dry deserts to swampy conditions to the wide open expanses in Canada and Alaska and everything in between.
There are exhibits that are outdoors as well as some indoor exhibits for certain animals (think snakes!).
Does ZooAmerica have Special Events or Activities?
Since ZooAmerica stresses the importance of education and preservation, they offer plenty of activities and special events for guests to participate!
There are a number of year-round special activities you can participate in on certain dates: Behind the Scenes Animal Tours, Animal Craft Stations, Sensory Friendly Mornings, demonstrations and more.
They also have special events depending on the time of year: Wild Winter Treats, Discovery Weekends, Chocolate Themed Treats, Wild Winter Adventures and so much more!
Check out the ZooAmerica Event page to stay up-to-date with what’s coming up!
Insider Tips to Visiting ZooAmerica
- As I mentioned earlier, ZooAmerica is attached to Hersheypark. Many guests to Hersheypark will enter ZooAmerica from the amusement park for a walk-through. However, it is important to note that if you enter ZooAmerica first, you cannot enter Hersheypark. You must be a Hersheypark guests for the day in order to go back and forth between the two attractions.
- If you are only visiting ZooAmerica, you can use a separate parking lot located right off the main entrance to ZooAmerica. Parking is free there and there is an easily accessible sidewalk that directs you straight to the entrance.
- ZooAmerica is open year-round even though Hersheypark is not. When Hersheypark is closed, all guests must use the ZooAmerica entrance located off Route 743.
- You can rent umbrella strollers or wheelchairs at the zoo for a nominal fee.
- You are allowed to bring packed lunches and coolers into ZooAmerica. They also have 2 dining spots available within the zoo to purchase food.
- The best time to visit ZooAmerica is actually during the cooler months when the animals are more active! So don’t save your visit for only times of the year when Hersheypark is open too!
- Plan to spend about 1-2 hours minimum walking through the zoo and visiting the exhibits. You could easily spend longer if you enjoy a meal there or time it to hear one of the zookeepers exhibit an animal.