Located north of downtown Rochester, the Seneca Park Zoo is a great spot for animal lovers visiting the northern Finger Lakes.
The zoo is located inside Seneca Park, a park designed in Frederick Law Olmstead, who also designed spots like Central Park in New York City and the park where the Buffalo Zoo is located. The zoo first opened in 1894 just a year after the park was completed.
Over the years, the zoo has expanded to 20 acres in size and there have been several new and renovated areas unveiled in the last year, with even more planned for the future.
While the Seneca Park Zoo is far from the largest zoo in New York, they feature a nice variety of animals and feature many of the species people want to see at zoos. For example, the zoo is home to the only African elephants in all of New York.
From the entrance, there is, for the most part, a single path that takes you half a mile through the zoo to the last exhibits. This is very helpful in that it makes sure you don’t miss any of the animals while you are walking through the zoo.
Once you reach the back area, you can either double back and see all the animals again, or you can (seasonally) pay a few dollars to take a trolley back to the front entrance to the zoo.
The Seneca Park Zoo in Rochester is home to more than 90 different species of animals, of which about 25 are specifically noted on the park map. Popular species included tigers, giraffes, polar bears, sea lions, and the aforementioned African elephants.
As you walk through the zoo, the exhibits offer great opportunities to see the animals, and the intimate design of the zoo provides close access to the animals, though the enclosures appeared to be of appropriate size.
My favorite enclosures at the Seneca Park Zoo belonged to the sea lions and the lions.
The sea lion enclosure is always great because you can see both above and below the water. This makes watching these playful creatures a ton of fun as their swim through the water in front of you.
I also really enjoyed the unique lion enclosure. This large space is part of the Seneca Park Zoo’s “A Step Into Africa” section which is said to try and replicate the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania.
The lion’s enclosure features a large rock in the middle for them to sun themselves or to hide from visitors if they choose. Along the edge of the space, there is a double-decker bus that visitors can enter for a close-up view of the enclosure.
If you’re lucky, you might even see a lion resting on the hood of the bus.
Of course, just because the sea lions and the lions were my favorite species and enclosures at the zoo, that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the rest. In fact, this was a really fun zoo to visit because it was relatively small, but had a ton of great animals to see inside.
Another feature of the zoo that children are sure to enjoy is the brand new in 2019 Tropics Adventure Zone. This is a large, natural playground located within the zoo’s gates that features places for kids of all ages to climb, slide, and just enjoy playing in a fun environment.
I’m pretty sure my five-year-old son enjoyed this area of the zoo more than he did the animals.
Given that you can’t miss it when walking into and out of the zoo, make sure you save some time for kids to enjoy this play area.
Overall, I really had a great time exploring the Seneca Park Zoo in Rochester. Its small size, innovative enclosures, and great mix of animals made this a great outing for my family while we were exploring the northern Finger Lakes.
Whether you live in the city or are visiting and looking for something fun to do with kids in Rochester, this is a great spot that you won’t want to miss.
Note: My visit to the Seneca Park Zoo in Rochester, NY was hosted by the site. However, the opinions expressed are my own.
Seneca Park Zoo
Hours: Daily: 10am-5pm
Cost: Adults: $12, Kids: $9
Address: 2222 St Paul St