I love zoos. And there are a couple of great ones in Mexico.
Now before you go all “The San Diego Zoo is the greatest zoo in the world,” hear me out.
Today we’re gonna focus on the Guadalajara Zoo, the largest zoo in Mexico.
Located north of the city center in Colinas de Huentitán, the price, especially if you are coming from the US, is amazing. $10.00 for kids and about $15.00 for adults. That means a family of four can do this for 50 bucks. And that’s the most expensive package available. Let me just say that same family of four is gonna be paying almost 180 bucks for a day checking out the animals in San Diego… plus parking!
As you enter, you descend a long stretch of steps guarded by blue monkey statues to a small lagoon, home to dozens of pink flamingos. It’s a great picture taking spot. Think Kodak Moment here!
After you take pics, head to the right. The zoo is set up on a “racetrack” system and the best route is to go right. The signs describing the animals are in both English and Spanish, so you’ll have absolutely no problemo understanding what you are seeing.
At the halfway point of your journey, you’ll be at the food court. Take my advice, plan to eat here. It’s cheap, at least in comparison to food at zoos and amusement parks in the states, and you’re gonna want a rest.
But there’s more.
At this end of the zoo, you are literally at the northern edge of Guadalajara, overlooking the Barranca, or canyon, of Huentitán, an incredible view to take in. Looking out, from the edge of this urban city, you see nothing but miles and miles of green canyon. Breathtakingly beautiful.
Now it’s time to switch it up. At this point in the park, there’s a train ride. Take it! You get to sit and be chauffeured around the zoo, and if you have kids, they’re gonna love it. After about 45 minutes, it will bring you back to the food court, where you can use the restrooms and make the trek to the exit, continuing on the racetrack and seeing the other side of the park.
How much time do you need? The place is not huge so you could easily do it in about 4 hours, depending on how fast your family walks.
I’ve been to a lot of zoos in my life, but without a doubt, this is one of my favorites. Why? Because it is perfect for kids. The racetrack style keeps the kiddies in view, even if they skip a few exhibits ahead, and it provides a perfect path to follow, so there are no arguments about where to go. Stay on the path, and you’ll see everything.
The train is a great mid-visit diversion, and the canyon is an added bonus most visitors to Guadalajara will never see or experience.
I’ve been there alone, in small groups and once even rented a bus and took a group of 60 kids and adults. I’ve never had a bad experience. There is just something magical and peaceful about zoos.
So often when families travel to Mexico, they take the kids, but forget about kid things. Kids, especially young ones, will endure museums and ruins, but they are going to want to do some kid things. Like zoos.
Trust me on this, if you are taking the family to Guadalajara, and it’s an amazing city, full of great art and architecture, don’t forget to plan a few things just for the kids. It’ll make the rest of your time in the City of Roses, as Guadalajara is known, that much better.
Getting there… The rugged way is to take the local bus. That’ll cost you about 2 bucks apiece, roundtrip. But you’ll have to walk about a half mile to reach the entrance. A taxi, by far the easiest method, especially with kids and a stroller, will be about $15.00 each way the center of Guadalajara.
Go prepared. Depending on the month, you could experience one of those Guadalajara showers, or some very humid heat. In any event, take plenty of sunscreen and wear a hat.
Parque Zoológico, Av. Paseo del Zoológico 600, Huentitán el Alto, Guadalajara, Jalisco, México, C.P. 44390.
Here’s a bonus. At the exit to the zoo, is a wonderful little amusement park, called Selva Magica. It’s not Disneyland or Six Flags, but the kids and even teenagers will love it. If the little guys are wiped out, you can always return the next day. Think of it as a US carnival on steroids, without the carnys. Admission is between $8.00 and $22.00 depending on how many rides and attractions you want to experience. Again, it’s a great day if you have kids.