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Weekend Getaway: Head to the Toronto Zoo for a Family-Friendly Wild Adventure

Adventure, Family Friendly, For Kids, Getaway, Things to Do

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Written by Andrea Diedrich

Published on August 24, 2022
Photo courtesy of the Toronto Zoo

Looking to encounter wildlife without actually planning a trip around the world? Just about 2 hours north of Buffalo is one of the best zoos in the world and the largest zoo in Canada – The Toronto Zoo. If you’ve ever been to Toronto, then you know the city itself is definitely something worth exploring but if you’re interested in stepping away from the hustle and bustle for the day, the Toronto Zoo is the perfect family-friendly way to experience the vast species that make up our world. Ready to plan your visit? Here’s what you need to know:

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What to Know Before Your Go:

With planning your trip to the Toronto Zoo, one thing to keep in mind is that it is about 45 mins from downtown Toronto, so if you have other stops planned for the weekend, you’ll want to save some time for travel. The Toronto Zoo encompasses 710 acres with 6 miles of walking paths, 7 distinct zoogeographic regions, and is home to ~5,816 animals. All that is to say – this place is huge, so be sure to plan for a full day here. Between all the exhibits, attractions, and lunch/snack breaks, you can expect a visit to generally take between 4-6 hours. Some have even found splitting the trip into two days is the way to go!

Photo courtesy of InterContinental Toronto Centre
Photo courtesy of the Chelsea Hotel

Where to Stay:

Depending on whether you’re looking to take in the sights of downtown or exclusively spend your time at the zoo, the Toronto area offers a variety of stay options. Find hotels and campgrounds within close distance of the zoo here. Pro tip: check with each hotel and see if they offer any discounts for the zoo as many of them do. Also if you are planing to see other major attractions in the Toronto area, you can save by getting a city pass.

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Photo courtesy of Barque Smokehouse
Photo courtesy of Pizzeria Libretto
Photo courtesy of Bang Bang Ice Cream & Bakery

Where to Eat:

Being the size that Toronto is, there are plenty of dining options to choose from. Some popular options include The Wheatsheaf Tavern , C’est What, Pizzeria Libretto, and Seven Lives. If your trip is kid-centered, some restaurants known to be family-friendly include: Barque Smokehouse, The Old Spaghetti Factory, Piano Piano, and Uncle Betty’s Diner. As far as dessert goes, some favorites are Bang Bang Ice Cream & Bakery, Short and Sweet Bakeshop, and Sweet Jesus. If you’re planning on eating at the zoo, you can pack a lunch to enjoy at their picnic tables or grab something to eat at one of their food stands and restaurants located right on the premise.

Photo courtesy of the Toronto Zoo
Photo courtesy of the Toronto Zoo
Photo courtesy of the Toronto Zoo

Experience the Wildlife:

Ready to conquer the Toronto Zoo? Divided into 7 areas, the zoo offers a unique experience to see wildlife up close from varying regions of the world. Here’s a rundown on each of the 7 sections:

Africa – Here you’ll find the African Rainforest Pavilion home to a variety of birds and the African Savanna which houses zebras, giraffes, lions and more. This is just about as close as you’ll get to an African Safari!

Americas – Think you know all the animals home to the Americas? In this pavilion you’ll find a variety of turtles, birds, and reptiles.

Australasia – In this region you’ll find exotic fish and coral reefs as well as an Australian favorite – the kangaroo!

Canadian Domain – The Canadian Domain will have you truly learning about our neighbors to the north. Come face to face with grizzly bears, moose, and bison.

Eurasia – Here you’ll get to see wild horses, tigers, snow leopards, and camels.

Indo-Malaya – In this territory, explore the habitats of carp, tortoises, orangutans, and rhinoceroses.

Tundra Trek – Taking you to colder temps, this region houses polar bears, arctic wolves, and reindeer.

Note: If you are looking to see a specific animal, we recommend checking the Toronto Zoo’s site in advance as on occasion, certain animals are not on display.

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Photo courtesy of the Toronto Zoo
Photo courtesy of the Toronto Zoo

Adventurous Attractions:

What makes the Toronto Zoo stand out from other zoos? The attractions! Outside of seeing exotic animals, the zoo also allows you to experience live shows, rides, and tours throughout the park. For a convenient way to get around the zoo, hop on the Zoomobile and learn interesting facts about the natural world from your tour guide. For children, the Kids Zoo is a great place for them to explore treehouse obstacles and slide down a two-story slide. More fun attractions include the TundraAir Ride, Splash Island, Wild Rouge Zipline & Canopy Tour, and the Gorilla Climb Ropes Course. Check out all of these attractions and more here!

You may be tired out after a full day of exploring but if you ask us, it’s totally worth it. The zoo is open just about every day of the year so if you’re looking for something new for your next quick trip, add the Toronto Zoo to your bucket list!

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Written by <a href="https://stepoutbuffalo.com/author/andrea-diedrich/" target="_self">Andrea Diedrich</a>

Written by Andrea Diedrich

Andrea is a Content Coordinator and writer for Step Out Buffalo. By day she enjoys using her creative side and researching all things Buffalo. By night you’ll find her exploring Buffalo’s waterfront, dining with friends or catching the latest show/concert in town.
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