Visit Detroit Zoo: OMG! See Polar Bears Swim, Penguins Waddle, Otters Play (So Cute!), Bears Splash! Animals, Map, Video, Parking, Nearby Hotels, Things To Do This Summer!

Penguins and Polar Bears at the Detroit Zoo!Let's Visit the Detroit Zoo!

The Incredible Detroit Zoo! | By Sherry Trautman | | Updated January 10, 2023

Let's Visit Detroit Zoo! OMG! Watch penguins waddle (so cute!), polar bears swimming after a ball, otters playing with their food and so many more cool animals at the Detroit Zoo in Michigan!

Chris and I are absolutely thrilled with this zoo! We highly recommend visiting in the spring before Michigan summers get too hot.  Parking is easy and safe, the animals are well cared for with large and very nice habitats, the range of animals to see is diverse and the Arctic Cafe offers a wide range of food choices. 


See Polar Bears Swim, Penguins Waddle, Otters Play (So Cute!)


Is the Detroit Zoo Safe?

Pretty important question, right? Chris and I were concerned about this aspect too when we were planning our trip.  But I'm very pleased to announce that my resounding answer is YES!

I didn't have any concerns while enjoying the zoo. There are lots of families, the zoo was clean, parking was safe and we noticed lots of staff throughout the park.  I didn't see anyone loitering.  

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have to wear a mask at the Detroit Zoo? No. It's recommended indoors but not required.

How long does it take to walk through the Detroit Zoo? If it's your first visit, I would plan on about 4 hours as the polar bear and penguin exhibits took us about an hour just for those two as they are incredible.

The park is 1.7 miles around so there is lots to see! 

Are there places to eat at the zoo?  Yes, but during our visit it was very limited. Only the Arctic Cafe (south of the polar bears) was open but the food was good and you could eat inside to cool off.  Bring snacks and water. 

Detroit Zoo Parking

When buying your Detroit Zoo tickets online, be sure to buy your parking ticket at the same time otherwise you will have to buy it once you get there and hold up the line. 

We recommend parking in the parking structure as it is covered, paved, safe and there is a walkway that drops you off right at the entrance to the zoo. 

  • Plan on arriving at the Detroit Zoo at least 20 minutes before your ticket time as the lines may be long to get in. 

Detroit Zoo Map

Here's the Detroit Zoo Map in a PDF!

It's a photo I took of the Detroit zoo map while we were visiting so it will show all the exhibits and animals you can see!

Detroit Zoo Penguins

The penguins are a must-see at the Detroit Zoo. Not only can you get very close to these funny and cute creatures, but there is a very cool underwater tunnel to watch them swim and play!

This underwater tunnel is so cool! It's plenty wide for people to pass each other. You can sit along the edges to rest and enjoy seeing the penguins swimming and playing. 

Detroit Zoo Polar Bears

My absolute favorite exhibit at the Detroit Zoo is the polar bears.  Not only do they have a very scenic outdoor play area, but they also have a very large and deep pool!  We spent about an hour watching these very active polar bears play with their toys, diving, twisting and interacting with each other. 

This polar bear exhibit is the best one I've seen!  You will just love it!

Detroit Zoo Animals

These adorable otters have a lovely river in which to play with their toys and get their exercise.  If you enter the building shown in the photo above, you can have an underwater view of these curious, active, adorable and intelligent creatures. 

We really loved all the air conditioned areas to escape the heat for a bit.  This is the building housing reptiles including snakes and alligators. It's called the Holden Reptile Conservatory Center.

Watch the video above to see this adorable bear going for a swim!  

Scenic Detroit Zoo

Be sure to enjoy the Wetland's Boardwalk, it's just lovely! We saw 10 itty bitty ducklings (in the video above) that were beyond cute. Lots of turtles and birds too!

Are there places to eat at the zoo?

Are there places to eat at the zoo?  Yes, but during our visit it was very limited.  There are several picnic areas if you wish to bring your own meals. 

During our visit, only the Arctic Cafe (south of the polar bears) was open but the food was good and you could eat inside to cool off.  I recommend bringing snacks and water. 

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Hotels Near Detroit Zoo

This last time, we stayed at the Courtyard Marriott Detroit, about 15 minutes from the zoo. The rooms were spacious, quiet and we parked in the nearby garage for the Detroit Renaissance Center. This way, we could visit the zoo, Belle Isle and Detroit

The Detroit Renaissance Center is also an incredible hotel that we have stayed at several times. 

Courtyard Marriott DetroitCourtyard Marriott Detroit

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About the Lead Author | Sherry Trautman

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Our Words of Wisdom: “Never follow anyone else’s path. Unless you’re in the woods and you’re lost and you see a path, then by all means follow that path.”

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We're Sherry and Chris the founders of one of Michigan's most comprehensive and Top Travel Blogs!

    Sherry Trautman is a seasoned business owner and a multifaceted content creator, deeply entrenched in the world of travel in Michigan. With her extensive background in writing, editing, photography, marketing, website design, web mastering, social media, and publishing, she is the driving force behind the acclaimed Michigan Travel site "" A lifelong Michigander, Sherry's journey began in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan led her to St. Joseph during her formative years, and further to Kalamazoo for her higher education. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Design and Fine Art from Western Michigan University. Her career initially blossomed in Battle Creek, where she contributed significantly to aviation, marketing, and the art industry.

    In 2018, Sherry, alongside her husband Chris, embarked on a passionate endeavor with the inception of This venture was not just a business but a full-time commitment to exploring and celebrating the diverse landscapes and communities of Michigan. Together, they tirelessly traverse the state, curating unique experiences, capturing stunning visuals, and weaving engaging narratives that showcase Michigan's rich cultural tapestry and natural beauty. From her early experiences in different Michigander locales to her extensive professional background, Sherry's life and work epitomize a deep-rooted expertise in Michigan travel, making her an authoritative voice in this niche.

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