Whether you have a few hours or a few days, we have suggestions on how best to get the most out of your time at the North Carolina Zoo. 

It takes between four to six hours to see the entire Park. There are over five miles of trails through the two main habitat regions, North America and Africa, plus a global Desert and tropical Aviary. If you arrive mid-day, you might choose to tour just one region.

When you arrive, please check the animal status boards located outside the admissions gates. The boards will give you daily information about feeding times, keeper talks and which animals might be off exhibit.

At the admission gate, you will receive a free Guest Guide. The guide includes animals, habitats and trail names which correspond with Park signs to help you navigate through the Zoo.   

Below is a suggested tour to maximize your time and allow you to see the entire Park in one day without any backtracking.

  • Come early; the Zoo opens at 9 a.m. Park in the North America parking lot.
  • After you pay at the admissions gate, follow the signs to the North America tram stop located inside the Park.
  • Catch a free tram or bus to Junction Plaza, which is centered between the North America and Africa regions.
  • Follow the signs to the Africa region. The first habitat is the Forest Aviary.
  • Africa is a big loop. The Akiba Market is located at the bottom of the loop. Stop here for a restroom break, a snack and a visit to the African-themed gift shops. Continue your safari through Africa, and you will return to Junction Plaza.
  • Plan to have lunch at one of Junction Plaza’s restaurants or snack bars. Children will delight in a ride on the Endangered Species Carousel and a visit to Kids' Junction, the kid-themed gift shop.
  • Follow the signs to the North America region. The first habitat is the Desert.
  • This region is linear and its main trail will lead you back to the North America Plaza, where you originally entered and parked your car. Stop to have a snack, restroom break and purchase a souvenir before you leave.