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Tampa Bay Day Trip: Lowry Park Zoo

This is one of the top attractions in all of Tampa Bay and one of the best zoos in America, winning multiple awards.

Quick Info:
Location: 1101 W Sligh Ave, Tampa, FL 33604
Admission: Adult $32.95 | Child (3-11) $25.95 | Children 2 & Under FREE
Hours: Open Daily, 9:30am – 5:00pm (Closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day)
Phone: 813-935-8552
Website: http://www.lowryparkzoo.org/

Quick Tips:

  • Buy the tickets online, as they are more expensive at the gate. (The above prices are the online prices).
  • The Tampa Bay City Pass gets you admission to Lowry Park Zoo, Busch Gardens, The Florida Aquarium, Clearwater Marine Aquarium (home to Winter the dolphin) and the Museum of Science and Industry or the Chihuly Collection. City Passes are $106 for adults and $96.00 for a child. For comparison, just buying an adult ticket to the zoo and an adult ticket to Busch Gardens will run you $122.94.
  • Lowry Park Zoo sometimes runs pretty good deals through Groupon. Check here for the latest.
  • If you live in the Tampa area, you should definitely look into taking advantage of the Swaptember reciprocal program which I wrote about here.

It was a rainy day when we went. We brought ponchos and were prepared to get wet. But then the rainclouds held. Which I guess was okay, even though I was secretly hoping to play in the rain. Anyways…

I’ve toured the zoo many times (wife has an annual pass + a guest pass, my boy is free), but this was the first time I had sense to bring the camera and get some good pictures.

So let’s get started…

Getting there: From I-275, take exit 48 (Sligh Ave). Go west on Sligh Ave for 0.9 miles. The Lowry Park Zoo entrance will be on your right. Here’s the address for those of you who just want to punch it into your GPS and be done with it: 1101 West Sligh Avenue, Tampa, FL 33604.

First off, parking is free. Hallelujah! Thank you Lowry Park Zoo for not falling in line with everybody else and charging an arm and a leg to park the car. I feel it makes a good impression on new visitors. I know it makes me feel happy, most of my visits start off with me looking like this:

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Yup, that’s me. A pretty happy-go-lucky guy (reader’s note: I’m not quite sure why, but as I was typing this my wife’s eyes rolled. Hmmm…strange. She must have something stuck in them). Anyway, Lowry Park Zoo has way too many things for me to go into minute detail about. So instead, I’ve selected my five favorite sections of the park. Here we go:

#5. PRIMATES

Lowry Park Zoo has a good selection of primate habitats to choose from. My favorite is the Bornean Orangutans. There’s some old ones and young ones and lazy ones and playful ones. Red and harry, these guys are fun to watch for their play and social interactions. Sadly, the Bornean Orangutan is an endangered species due to habitat destruction and the pet trade.

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The orangutans have clothes in the habitat to wear if they want. This one is putting on a shirt.

The orangutans have clothes in the habitat to wear if they want. This one is putting on a shirt to stay cozy.

 #4. STINGRAY BAY

At Stingray Bay visitors get to pet stingrays. Don’t worry. They are harmless. They have been de-stung. If you want you can buy some food for feedings. If you do, it feels like feeding a soggy vacuum cleaner. Sluuuuurrrrrp!

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Here, I demonstrate perfectly to my son the two-fingered sting ray petting technique.

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Here he is. Fast learner. We had to get his swim gear on first though.

#3. SPLASH PAD

The Billabong splash pad is in the zoo’s kid section, Wallaroo Station. It’s Australian themed, has water, rides, and kiddy animal attractions; like the petting zoo or pony ride. I find it’s usually a pretty good halfway point when touring the zoo. Gives my son time to run around like a maniac and to work off some energy.

The leaky wall. One of many things that can get kids wet.

The leaky wall. One of many things that can get kids wet.

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Here we are, just hangin’ around!

#2. MANATEES

This rivals my #1 choice, not just because of the animal in question, but because of the facility and what it means. Lowry Park Zoo operates the world’s only non-profit manatee hospital. To date, the hospital has cared for over 330 manatees. Visitors can view the manatees from above in the amphitheater or from below the waterline in a tunnel. And if you didn’t know, Florida loves their manatees.

View from the amphitheater.

View from the amphitheater.

One of the hospital pools.

One of the hospital pools.

I didn't have any fantastic close ups, so here's a great one courtesy of Albert kok. This was taken at Crystal River, FL.

I didn’t have any fantastic close ups, so here’s a great one courtesy of Albert kok. This was taken at Crystal River, FL.

#1. ELEPHANTS

Yup. Elephants are the best, and it’s not coincidence that Lowry Park Zoo uses an elephant as part of their official logo. The whole thing started with just one elephant years ago, and they have continued the tradition by keeping an immaculate and spectacular elephant habitat. Which now includes two baby calves.

And then hides under mom again.

Nobody else can even come close to beating the adorable factor.

Feeling nice and cool after taking a dip.

Feeling nice and cool after taking a dip. For more elephant pics click here.

BONUS HABITAT!!! The giraffes are right next door to the elephants. There’s a bunch of them and you can feed them for $3! I mean, really…how often do you get to feed a giraffe? Unfortunately, we had camera malfunctions when it was my turn. Oh well, perhaps another day. Here’s a different picture to hold you over until then.

Yes, really tall. I was told by a Busch Gardens zookeeper that giraffes only live for about 15 years. That amazes me and I'm not entirely sure I believe it.

Yes, really tall. I was told by a Busch Gardens zookeeper that giraffes only live for about 15 years. That amazes me and I’m not entirely sure I believe it. They seem too big to live for such a short amount of time.

So there’s the top 5. I could easily have done a top 10, but decided it would take way too long.

Lowry Park Zoo is one of my favorite day trips and, honestly, is one of the best zoos that I have ever experienced. I can highly recommend the Lowry Park Zoo.

Featured image by TampAGS

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