Zoos in Minnesota

The Best Zoo’s and Aquariums in Minnesota 2024

Are you planning a trip to Minnesota and looking for some fun animal encounters? I’m exploring the best zoos and aquariums in Minnesota, like the Minnesota Zoo in Apple Valley to the free Oxbow Park & Zollman Zoo in Byron.

These animal attractions provide different experiences for visitors. You can feed giraffes, walk through a shark tunnel, or learn about Minnesota’s native animals.

My husband and I have a running joke about zoos. They are never planned stops, but we always end up there on vacation (regarless if kids are in tow).

What surprises me most as a Twin Cities girl, is just how many zoo’s are spread out in the other corners of the state.

I gotta say, it doesn’t matter how big the zoo is, there is a unique charm to them all. 

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Minnesota Zoo, Apple Valley

Location: 13000 Zoo Blvd, Apple Valley, MN 55124
Tickets: Adults 13-64 $19.95, Kids 3-12 $13.95
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Minnesota Zoo, located in Apple Valley, is a fantastic zoo. The zoo features a diverse range of exhibits, including bison, moose, lemurs, lynx, red pandas, grizzly bears and bats to name a few. 

Visitors love the walking trails that immerse themselves in the natural habitat as much as possible. The favorite is the tropics trail and its rainforest, grisly coast and the MN Trail. Discovery bay is a great fun too with their shark reef! 

In the winter of 2023 the Minnesota is hosting dolphins again in their aquarium. This is just a short stay while their tank is being redone. But for now, you can reserve tickets to the dolphin show and enjoy them this season.

The MN ZOO is also adding a Treetop trail on the path of the old monorail. This will be the largest of its kind. 

While there, make sure to check out the Wells Fargo Farm animals and the play areas around the zoo. They are one of a kind. 

In addition to showcasing animals, the Minnesota Zoo is committed to animal conservation and plays an active role in conservation efforts for both land and freshwater species. 

All this make is it one of the best zoos in the world. Personal opinion here!

Moose at the MN Zoo

Como Park Zoo, St. Paul

Location: 1225 Estabrook Dr, Saint Paul, MN 55103
Tickets: Free
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Como Park Zoo is a family-friendly park located in Saint Paul that features a world-class zoo and conservatory. This is one of two zoos in the Twin Cities, not including aquariums.

The Como Zoo is home to a vast array of outdoor exhibits that showcase a variety of different animals such as lions, bison, snow leopards, polar bears, and even a giraffe.

What I love is you can get up close and personal to giraffe’s and even have the opportunity to feed one. For a fun experience, make sure to do a behind-the-scenes tour.

The park also includes Como Town, a fun-filled amusement park and Splash Zone, a water park.

With so much to see and do, Como Park Zoo is a great destination for families and animal lovers alike. 

The Como Zoo in St Paul MN

Lake Superior Zoo, Duluth

Location: 7210 Fremont St, Duluth, MN 55807
Tickets: Adults $16, Kids 3- 12 $10
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Located in Duluth, Minnesota, the Lake Superior Zoo is home to a variety of different species, including endangered ones.

Visitors can see Amur tigers, brown bears, gray wolves, and even a kangaroo and their animal habitats. 

The zoo aims to publicly educate and entertain people by showcasing animals native to the area, as well as those from other parts of the world, such as leopards and primates like tamarins and monkeys.

The brand new bear exhibit is a particular favorite among visitors. 

One thing they just introduced is a brand-new set of behind-the-scenes tours. The favorite is the Feed the Animals tour, giving you the option to feed a few different animals getting up close to them. 

Duluth is a Family Friendly place to explore. Make sure to check out: 28 Amazing Family Friendly Things to do in Duluth MN

Hemker Zoo, Freeport

Location: 26715 County Road 39, Freeport, MN 56331
Tickets: Adults $20.25, Kids 2-12 $18.25
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 Hemker Zoo in Freeport is a must-visit family destination. Spanning over 70 acres of land, the zoo is home to over 50 species of animals, including giraffes, rhinos, alligators, penguins, and more. Plus they have endangered species.

They have special events all the time, but some of the favorite events are the animal encounters. They have options to Rhino Feeding, River Otter Feeding, and Giraffe Feeding.

Visitors can enjoy a picnic on the grounds while marveling at the diverse wildlife. 

Oxbow Park & Zollman Zoo, Byron

Location: 5731 County Road 105 NW, Byron, MN 55920
Tickets: FREE
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The Oxbow Park and Zollman Zoo is one of the many zoos in Minnesota, located in the city of Byron. The zoo is home to around 30 species, featuring a variety of animals from eagles to bison and elk.

This is a unique zoo because of it’s completely free and home to Minnesota Native Animals only.  It relies on donations to stay running.

Visitors can see these animals up close in their exhibits, and even learn about them through interactive educational displays.

In addition to the Zoo, you can also explore Oxbow Park. This green area has a campground, trails and more. 

The Zollman Zoo is a great attraction for families and animal lovers alike in Minnesota. 

SEA LIFE at Mall of America, Bloomington

Location: 120 East Broadway, East Side, Lev, Bloomington, MN 55425
Tickets: Adults $26.99, Kids 3-12 $23.99
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Sea Life at Mall of America in Bloomington is a must-visit aquarium featuring over 10,000 sea creatures from around the world. The highlight of the aquarium is their large collection of sharks which visitors can view up close through a 300-foot-long tunnel.

The aquarium also offers free daily stingray feedings where visitors can interact with and feed the gentle sea creatures.

Located in the famous Mall of America, Sea Life is a perfect destination for families and animal lovers alike. 

Sea Life Aquarium

Great Lakes Aquarium, Duluth

Location: 353 Harbor Dr, Duluth, MN 55802
Tickets: Adults $20, Kids 3-17 $16
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The Great Lakes Aquarium in Duluth is a top attraction for visitors and locals. Located on the shores of Lake Superior, the aquarium features a variety of exhibits showcasing the Great Lakes region.

Visitors can see a range of aquatic creatures, from native fish species to sturgeon, otters, and more.

In addition to species native to Minnesota, they also have the Amazing Amazon, Baptism River, the St Louis River and also learn about aquatic invaders. They even have a jelly fish touch pool. 

With interactive and educational displays, as well as activities for all ages, the Great Lakes Aquarium is a must-visit destination in Duluth. 

Great Lakes Aquarium
“Coral Reef, Great Lakes Aquarium, Duluth” by Sharon Mollerus is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Rad Zoo, Medford

Location: 6750 W Frontage Road, Medford, MN in the Outlet Mall
Tickets: Adults $11.75, Kids 3-12 $9.75
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 Rad Zoo in Medford is a fantastic destination for reptile lovers.

With over 150 different kinds of animals on display, visitors can get up close and personal with a wide variety of fascinating creatures.

The zoo is particularly renowned for its collection of snakes, lizards, crocodiles, toads, frogs and salamanders, making it a must-visit destination for anyone interested in reptiles and amphibians. 

It’s located in the Medford Mall, making it easy to stop in after a day of shopping.

Pine Grove Zoo, Little Falls

Location: 1200 W Broadway, Little Falls, MN 56345
Tickets: Adults 10+ $14, Kids 3-9 $12
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Located in Central Minnesota, the Pine Grove Zoo is a treat. Just on the outskirts of town, this small zoo is a great place to explore.

They have bison, elk, black bear, red fox, otter, bobcat, Siberian tiger, cougar, arctic wolf, prairie dog, zebra, porcupine, grey wolf, and more. Don’t forget to check out their educational programs.

In addition to seeing the animals, visitors can also enjoy a picnic in the park while surrounded by the natural beauty of the area. 

Make sure to check out the other fun things to do in Little Falls on this adventure!

Pine Grove Zoo

Sibley Park Zoo, Mankato

Location: 900 Sibley Park Rd NE, Mankato, MN
Tickets: Free
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Sibley Park Zoo in Mankato is a popular destination for families looking for fun. This free zoo has a variety of farm animals on site.

Visitors can even get up close and personal at the petting zoo. With plenty of outdoor space for kids to run and play, Sibley Park Zoo is an ideal place for a day out with the family. 

Safari North Wildlife Park, Brainerd

Location: 8493 State Highway 371, Brainerd, MN 56401
Tickets: Adults $19.99, Kids 2-12 are $15.99
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Safari North is a great wildlife park near Brainerd. This one is located right off the highway, so it’s easy to find. But there are tons of exhibits hiding inside. I think I may have seen a more diverse amount of animals here than at the MN Zoo.

The park has a family-owned feel. There are multiple opportunities to feed animals, some shaded trails and a Safari Train ride that takes you through a whole other section of the park. It’s definitely worth exploring for yourself.

Safari North Giraffe Feeding

How many zoos are in Minnesota?

There are 8 zoos in Minnesota, including the Minnesota Zoo in Apple Valley, and the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory in St. Paul. Other smaller zoos and animal parks include the Hemker Park & Zoo in Freeport and the Lake Superior Zoo in Duluth.

What is my favorite of all the Zoo’s in Minnesota? 

I am partial to the Minnesota Zoo, but love getting to explore the smaller zoo’s. They all do a great job of showcasing the animals that live here as well as helping with conservation efforts.

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