While soaking up the sun and relishing the leisure activities at our vacation homes in Kissimmee and Davenport, don’t miss out on an adventurous day at the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens.

Whether you’re a couple looking for a unique date spot, a family seeking an enriching outing, or an individual with a keen interest in nature, the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens is an experience you wouldn’t want to miss when staying at an Elements vacation home or resort. Get ready to enter a fascinating realm of Florida’s unique flora and fauna!

About the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens

Photo Credit: KLiK Photography

Situated in Sanford, Florida, in Seminole County, this beloved attraction is more than just a place to see exotic wildlife; it’s a vibrant, dynamic world filled with engaging exhibits, lush botanical gardens, and fun-filled events for all ages. It is under an hour from both our Kissimmee and Davenport vacation home rentals, making for a great day in Central Florida.

Stepping into the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens for the first time is filled with vibrant sights and sounds of the animal exhibits and aquariums, as well as the serene beauty of the botanical gardens.

A Fantastic Family Destination

For families, the zoo provides an ideal mix of entertainment and education. Children will love getting close to the animals and learning about them in an interactive, engaging manner. The zoo’s Wharton-Smith Tropical Splash Ground is a highlight, offering a chance for kids to cool off on the splash pad while parents can relax nearby. In addition, the zoo’s layout is stroller-friendly, ensuring easy access for families with young ones. Kids will also love the petting zoo, zip lines, and numerous animal encounters.

A Great Day Date

Couples seeking a unique date experience will appreciate the zoo’s serene setting. The picturesque botanical gardens make for a romantic walk. Enjoy a leisurely picnic or dine at the on-site restaurant, followed by a tranquil stroll through the exhibits. The zoo often hosts special events that can add a touch of excitement to your date.

Solo Visits

Solo visitors and nature enthusiasts will appreciate the educational opportunities and the chance to observe diverse wildlife and flora. The zoo provides ample spots to sit, observe, and immerse oneself in the natural beauty.


is a priority for the Central Florida Zoo, making it a friendly destination for visitors with disabilities. Wheelchair rentals are available, and the zoo’s layout ensures comfortable navigation.

What to Know Before You Go

The zoo is spread over a significant area, so be prepared for some walking. Comfy shoes are a must! Numerous animal exhibits are home to different species from various global habitats, such as the rainforest, savannah, desert, and more.

If you plan to stay for lunch or need a quick snack, there are also food courts and snack bars spread throughout the park.

Must-see Exhibits and Attractions

Your first visit to the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens won’t be complete without exploring its impressive range of exhibits. Each exhibit offers a unique encounter with the zoo’s residents, from the curious giraffe eyes watching you from the treeline to the majestic cheetahs lounging in their habitats.

Florida Black Bear Exhibit

The Florida Black Bear exhibit offers an up-close view of these native Florida creatures. Observing them in a habitat that mirrors their natural environment provides a unique understanding of their lives.

Florida Alligator Exhibit

The Florida Alligator Exhibit is another must-see. Marvel at the size and strength of these ancient reptiles while learning about their critical role in their ecosystem.


Photo Credit: BestPhotoStudio

Fans of slithering creatures should not miss the Herpetarium, where you can closely examine various species of snakes, iguanas, and frogs.

Rhino Encounter

One of the zoo’s standout exhibits is the “Rhino Encounter,” offering an opportunity to observe and learn about these magnificent creatures. Check with the Visitor Services Center for encounter timings.

Seminole Aerial Adventures

The Seminole Aerial Adventures is a unique attraction for adventurous visitors. This zip-lining course over the zoo offers breathtaking views and an adrenaline rush.

The Children’s Zoo

The Children’s Zoo is perfect for little ones. It’s an interactive area where children can pet farm animals and engage in other fun, hands-on activities.

The Botanical Gardens: A Burst of Tropical Flora

Photo Credit: Ritu Manoj Jethani

After immersing yourself in the world of wildlife, take a peaceful stroll through the enchanting Botanical Gardens that form an integral part of the Central Florida Zoo. Showcasing a multitude of tropical and subtropical flora, this space is a tribute to nature’s vibrancy and diversity.

Upon entering the gardens, you’ll notice a mix of native and exotic plants, creating a visual spectacle with a burst of colors. The gardens encompass several microhabitats, each representing a different part of Florida’s diverse ecology. The Botanical Gardens paint a comprehensive picture of Florida’s plant life, from the dry, sandy scrubland filled with cacti and palms to the humid, swampy wetlands bursting with ferns and orchids.

The gardens are also home to the state’s most ancient and endangered plants, giving visitors an opportunity to appreciate these rarities. Take the time to read the signs that provide information about the plant’s origin, characteristics, and conservation status.

Events and Programs

Special Events

Photo Credit: JWCohen

Throughout the year, the zoo hosts various special events and seasonal celebrations such as the renowned Lantern Festival, nighttime zoo adventures, and conservation fundraisers. These events offer unique experiences like night tours, animal encounters, and even sleepovers!

Educational Programs

Educational programs are a cornerstone of the zoo’s mission. For children and young adults, the zoo offers summer camps, zoo school, and even a Junior Zoo Keeper program where they can learn more about the animals and their habitats in an engaging, hands-on way.

Animal Encounters

Photo Credit: KLiK Photography

Animal encounters are also a popular feature of the zoo at the Discovery Center, allowing visitors a closer look at some of their favorite animals, including giraffes, rhinos, and llamas. Be sure to check the schedule for these unique interactive experiences.

Pro Tip: Some events require pre-booking, so plan ahead to ensure you don’t miss out on these amazing experiences at the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens.

Experience the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens

Whether it’s the roar of a cougar, the curious lemurs, or the calm of the botanical gardens that capture your heart, your first visit to this vibrant zoo will surely not be your last. The Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens is a true gem, making it a must-visit destination during your stay at our vacation homes in Kissimmee or Davenport.