The Nashville Zoo at Grassmere was established in 1996 when the Zoo relocated from Joelton, TN. The Zoo sits on roughly 200 acres so be prepared to walk. All of the paths are stroller friendly and if you don't have one you can rent them at the information desk just inside the main entrance. If you are heading out on any of the trails be prepared and visit the bathrooms before you set out.
When you enter the Zoo you go through a very shaded area, lots of trees into an area called Zoo Central. This is where you will find the restaurant, the gift shop, the main toilets, and the first aid area.
If you head out towards Jungle Loop you will come across the amphitheater which offers daily shows. The show times are posted at the bottom of the incline so be sure to check before walking up to the amphitheater to save your legs for the other hills.
The shows have select animals from the state of Tennessee. The show we attended did not have any petting time attached nor was the show designed to answer questions from the audience. This is not necessarily a bad thing, just setting expectations. The petting part comes from the big petting zoo enclosure, Critter Encounters.
Inside you will find lots of goats, a camel and other friendly animals. You can touch all of them if they are up against the fences and there are plenty of disinfectant dispensers outside for when you are done. Don't be deceived by the Zoo Map. The trails through the Jungle Loop are anything but flat. The walk however is worth it to see all the various animals. The Bamboo forest provides shade through most of the Jungle Loop but you will want a drink to carry around if the day promises to be hot. There is usually little to no breeze in among the Bamboo. As mentioned earlier the loop doesn't have a bathroom so be sure you visit before you set out as it's a long way back.
The African Savannah has little in the way of shade and on a hot day you will definitely feel it. The enclosures are very large as you might expect for the largest animals in the Zoo. However this often means that the animals are at the back of their enclosures making it difficult to see them. Whilst there is a water fountain and gift shop at the back of the Savannah there are no bathrooms, (did I mention be prepared already? :)).
Nashville Zoo holds events on a regular basis, including a twice a year sleepover. These often take place in Festival Field. While there is also a Historic Home and Farm, we rarely make it. The kids get back to Zoo Central and the Jungle Gym which is described by Nashville Zoo as “…the largest community-built playground in the United States and includes over 66,000 square feet for sliding, swinging, climbing, crawling and exploring.”. Once the kids are done with the playground, the only place to go afterwards is the car. It's time to head home with tired, happy kids.
Family Fun Facts:
March 11 – October 12 | 9 am – 6 pm
October 13 – December 31 | 9 am – 4 pm
Adults and Teens : $16
Seniors (65+) : $13
Children (2 – 12) : $11
Children Under 2 : Free
Nashville Zoo Members : Free
Parking $5 per vehicle (Members park free)
There are multiple membership levels as well.