Henry Vilas Zoo

Henry Vilas Zoo, Madison: Hours, Address, Henry Vilas Zoo Reviews: 4.5/5

Henry Vilas Zoo
4.5
9:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Monday
9:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Tuesday
9:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Wednesday
9:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Thursday
9:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Friday
9:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Saturday
9:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Sunday
9:30 AM - 5:00 PM
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About
Truly a wild place to hang out! We are an admission-free, AZA-accredited zoo located next to Vilas Park in downtown Madison with a mission to conserve and protect the wonders of the natural world. Sign up for a Behind the Scenes tour, let us host your next birthday party, or just come by and learn more about our animals. With over 100 species, including polar bears, Aldabra tortoises, and African lions, there are plenty of opportunities to learn more about your favorite animals!
Suggested duration
1-2 hours
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4.5
1,681 reviews
Excellent
1,055
Very good
477
Average
118
Poor
21
Terrible
10

melissawisco
Kiel, WI62 contributions
What a pleasant zoo that is donation based. You will have to be creative with parking and most likely park on a side street. Stroller friendly zoo allows for fun for the whole family. Train ride and carousel are 1 token each so $3 per rider. Train ride is more for the fun of the ride not so much the view or length. The giraffe at the zoo is astounding. It will try to reach the leaves on the top branches and with the fencing the way it is you can get an amazing picture. There is a beach across from the zoo that allows for swimming. We did not do this but perhaps on a future trip. You can bring snacks in as well.
Written June 14, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

garint1981
Freeport, IL42 contributions
We went as soon as they opened even though it rained off and on. It still had a lot of people. At first, many of the animals weren't out due to the rain, but we ended up seeing everything the zoo had to offer; besides, the badgers were the only animal that didn't come out. Unfortunately (for my girlfriend), the reptile building was closed due to maintenance, but a staff member explained the reasoning thoroughly. We ended up staying a couple of hours and walked 3 miles.
Written June 28, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Sandy R
Sycamore, IL18 contributions
Family
We took our grand girls on an outing to this zoo.... We enjoyed 2 hours of animal exhibits including lions, giraffes, sea lions and so much more! Admission is free.... minimal cost to ride the carousel of zoo animals... We enjoyed it a great deal!
Written January 7, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Roann M
5 contributions
The zoo has made several adjustments for the COVID - 19 virus situation. None of the indoor exhibits are open. Face masks are required even though you are outside the whole time. Social distancing is also recommend but not followed by all guests.
At the bear exhibit, which is a small, enclosed area, families were bunched together. We waited for them to clear out, and while we were waiting at the appropriate distance, other families just walked in ahead of us. People who were there without kids were even worse.
They should have docents, or staff members at the busy exhibits with a rope line, just like at an amusement park, where you have to wait your turn.
Written July 31, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

ClevelandBeachBoy
Greater Cleveland535 contributions
It's hard to beat a free zoo. I have been to a few free zoos, including Lincoln Park, The National (Smithsonian), and St. Louis. This is much better than the Menominee Park Zoo, also in Wisconsin, as it is much larger and looks more like a real zoo while Menominee Park is more like a place to go for a walk with some animals.

I would say the Henry Vilas Zoo is better than the Lincoln Park Zoo and the National Zoo. If you are looking for a free activity, this is a good bet! I also happened to be there on a day where the train rides and carousel rides were also free, which was awesome! They apparently are free only on certain days. The train is not on tracks but my small children liked it.

Don't miss the Somali Wild Ass!
Written July 31, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Jane H
4 contributions
Family
A treasure in Madison and what i’ll miss most about leaving the University! This zoo has a fantastic range of animals in charming neighborhood tucked away near a pond. The volunteers and staff are all genuinely excited to answer your questions. The lions and capybara are a personal favorite of mine. Seriously such a gem in Madison. So sad to be graduation and leaving the beautiful zoo behind.
Written May 26, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Connie M
Warrington, PA166 contributions
We went here with our son and our 2 year old granddaughter. They had been here before but it was our first time. It was a very nicely maintained zoo in a lovely park. It is fairly small which was perfect for the granddaughter- we could walk around and look at everything without her getting too tired or overwhelmed. It has a varied selection of animals, a merry-go-round and a train ride, a Children's Zoo with a VERY active group of goats which our granddaughter loved, a playground, gift shop and restaurants. You're also allowed to bring your own food and eat at one of the picnic tables. It is very popular with the locals so we got there shortly after it opened to avoid the crowds later in the day. Glad we went and looking forward to returning.
Written February 16, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Amos6022
Bettendorf, IA569 contributions
Family
First off I really love that this zoo is free! Really nice walking zoo with plenty of trees and shade. Good variety of animals to see. We went in early morning and most were outside their cages and active which is always awesome to see! My kids are older but they have an amazing looking jungle gym for littles. Even right outside the zoo there is this little lake and green space for picnics and fun. Really lovely area of Madison.
Written September 7, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Julie
10 contributions
Family
Beautiful zoo with lots of nice shade to walk under. Lovely display of animals in nice habitats. Because the zoo is free, you can feel no burden in buying tickets for the carousel and train. Our family enjoyed our visit.
Written October 20, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Chuck2010
Palmyra, PA2,575 contributions
Outstanding small zoo dedicated to families ... we were impressed with the variety of animals as well as nice environments. It must take a lot of effort and dedication to run a zoo strictly on donations from the public .. Admission is free and a donation is appreciated
Written October 6, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Henry Vilas Zoo

Henry Vilas Zoo is open:
  • Sun - Sat 9:30 AM - 5:00 PM