San Antonio Mom Blogs - Life and Parenting in the Alamo City

First look at Zootennial Plaza at the San Antonio Zoo

Hoping to avoid the Spring Break crowds at the San Antonio Zoo next week, the kids and I headed there yesterday after school for our first glimpse of Zootennial Plaza. It’s gorgeous and well worth the wait!

Zootennial Plaza at the San Antonio Zoo

But, before I show you how lovely Zootennial Plaza is, I’ve got to share our celebrity siting. We weren’t the only ones visiting the Zoo on this momentous occasion.

El Rey Feo visits Zootennial Plaza at the San Antonio Zoo

El Rey Feo 2014, Jimmy Green, strolled the grounds with his entourage close by his side. He graciously took a moment for a photo with us (thanks to Libby Castillo, the Zoo’s talented marketing coordinator, for taking the pic). Fiesta is just around the corner, y’all! He gave us each a medal so we’re already ahead of that game.

El Rey Feo visits Zootennial Plaza at the San Antonio Zoo

Now, on to our tour of Zootennial Plaza. Almost mid-way through the Zoo, as you pass the jaguar exhibit on your left and head towards Africa Live, to your right you’ll catch your first look at this latest section of the San Antonio Zoo.

Zootennial Plaza at the San Antonio Zoo

The carousel is obviously the highlight.

Zootennial Plaza at the San Antonio Zoo

Tickets are $2.50 each, a little steep for just one ride, but it brought my kiddos so much joy that it was worth the price. If you ever want to see magic cross a child’s eyes, watch him as he carefully selects the animal, among all others, upon which he’ll sit to let his imagination soar.

The carousel at Zootennial Plaza at the San Antonio Zoo

After our ride ended, we walked around the carousel, marveling at the dazzling and colorful array of animals and creatures. There’s even a bird’s nest you can sit inside and spin around in (like a Madhatter’s tea cup) while the carousel turns. The kids were sad to have missed it but that’s something we can look forward to next time.

The carousel at Zootennial Plaza at the San Antonio Zoo

A walkway between the carousel and the river area leads to the brand new Zootennial Restaurant.

Zootennial Plaza at the San Antonio Zoo

The Zoo website describes it as an “upscale” restaurant and it’s definitely the nicest indoor, air conditioned dining facility at the Zoo. But the food is still typical park fare (pizza, chicken tenders, hamburgers, fries, hot dogs, etc.). I’d love to see salads, fruit, grilled chicken or fish, and other healthy options added to the menu one day.

New restaurant at Zootennial Plaza at the San Antonio Zoo

This new area of the Zoo is circled by bird exhibits. You can get up close to see many of these exotic creatures (and some funny, tightrope-walking ducks).

Birdwatching in Zootennial Plaza at the San Antonio Zoo

Zootennial Plaza with its carousel; pretty new restaurant; surrounding grounds with plenty of benches and tables; space for kids to run; and areas overlooking birds of all shapes and sizes; is a beautiful addition to our already favorite Zoo.

The San Antonio Zoo celebrates 100 years by unveiling Zootennial Plaza

Happy 100th birthday, San Antonio Zoo!

Zootennial Plaza at the San Antonio Zoo


  1. Thanks for the report, Colleen. I am hoping to take my grandson soon for his first carousel ride!!

  2. Wow, the carousel is extra?! When we lived in Kansas City, our season pass entitled us to FREE carousel and train rides, which was wonderful for my two-year-old!

  3. When Boy was little, we were members of the zoo, but we haven’t been in years and years. I see a new membership in my future!

  4. Oh I can’t wait! I am a Freak for critters!!

  5. Zootennial Plaza is beautiful but I was disappointed in the food choices too. Nearly every menu item was fried and when you walked into the restaurant there was an overwhelming smell if grease.

  6. It looks amazing! But yes those ticket prices do seem high – especially with three kids (do parents have to pay to ride with a toddler too?)

    Also curious the prairie chicken is on the sign but they didn’t have those anymore when they started construction did they bring them back?

    • Katie, yes, parents do have to pay to ride with toddlers. My son is six and he insisted I go with him. I had to pay $2.50 too.

      I’m not sure about the prairie chickens. We didn’t see any while we were there, but maybe we just missed them?

  7. Love the pictures of the carousel! Who exactly is El Rey Feo 2014, Jimmy Green?

    • Diana, he is the king of Fiesta San Antonio (which takes place for 10 days in April every year). He is part of an ongoing fundraiser to support scholarships. 🙂

  8. HollyDolly says:

    I was thinking of checking it out maybe.Like you,I was disappointed to hear about their menu.The food is hardly upscale.
    Might have to go to Killer Piranha Sushi in the Quarry for lunch,,or try the food at the Sunken Gardens at the old teahouse there. The impression I got was it was going to be like the restaurant at the San Antonio Museum of Art on Jones St. What they need to do is work on parking in the area.


  1. […] starts Spring Break with their Centennial celebration when they unveil their Zootennial Carousel in Zootennial Plaza. Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch is proudly showing off their rare twin giraffes, Nakato and Wasswa, […]

  2. […] Zoos can be overwhelming for little ones but the San Antonio Zoo’s Tiny Tot Nature Spot brings the adventure of wildlife and the outdoors down to baby’s size. Indoor activity centers, outdoor close ups with fish, tortoises, chickens, and goats get your babe excited about the sights, sounds, and (yes!) the smells of the animal kingdom. What parents love is the indoor play area, designed for kids 5 and under, which is the perfect place when baby needs to rest or cool off. Also popular is the quiet room set aside for nursing moms who enjoy feeding baby with few distractions. And, don’t miss the brand-new carousel in Zootennial Plaza! […]

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