Adventure Us: Mill Mountain Zoo

Kids of all ages have a day full of adventure waiting for them at the Mill Mountain Zoo. Small but well-kept, brimming with interesting animals, we have found the zoo a perfect place to take visitors or to spend several enjoyable hours with family and friends.

Mill Mountain Zoo sits, of course, on the iconic Mill Mountain, which provides it several bonus points from the get-go. It’s a perfect activity to combine with a picnic and a stroll to the Mill Mountain Star, the scenic overlooks, the nature center, or the playground – especially since the zoo staff is agreeable to letting you use your tickets as day passes and come back later. 

Once inside, the adventure begins. There are creatures here to suit the fancies of every child (or child at heart). You’ll find an array of species from the most exotic to the most iconic natives of the Blue Ridge. Some of the highlights of our most recent trip were the lynx and the pallas cat (the snow leopard didn’t make an appearance), the frisky and sociable Asian otter, and the black bear, who was quite active during our visit. Also appreciated were the enclosure of gorgeous exotic birds and the reptile house, where one of the biggest Burmese pythons we’ve seen was hanging out (behind a glass window, of course).

The animals are housed in thoughtfully designed enclosures and generally seem to be happy. The zoo keepers also seem both knowledgeable and committed to their dependents’ well-being. We enjoyed watching one keeper feed the African tortoise its tri-weekly meal of vegetables. We saw several other staff tending to various animals and their enclosures. A variety of interaction or feeding events are on the schedule each day, so check when you enter to find out which animals will be featured that day. 

The Zoo also hosts a number of events and programs periodically through the summer, featuring close-up visits with certain animals and other exciting activities; check their website or Facebook page to see what’s coming up soon!

It’s important to recognize that these animals don’t appear on command and may be asleep or hiding, especially during the heat of a summer day. This is another good reason to make your visit leisurely; if some animals aren’t out, come back after lunch and check again. Also, remember to be respectful of the animals, their keepers, and the zoo grounds – and leave your own pets at home!

One other unique attraction – and one to which our kids returned again and again – was the Zoo’s miniature train, the “Zoo Choo.” This little train circles the zoo on its track twice every half hour, gives you fresh glimpses of different animals, and is free to be ridden as many times as you please during your visit. Needless to say, we were one of the repeat customers!

Mill Mountain Zoo, along with its nearby attractions, makes a perfect family adventure for a summer day!

Name: Mill Mountain Zoo, Mill Mountain Spur Roanoke, VA 24014

Time from Roanoke: <15 minutes

Activity Options: Closeup encounters with animals of all sorts!

Nearby Food: Snacks and treats are available at the concession stand; downtown Roanoke has much more only a few minutes away

Nearby Attractions: All the attractions of Mill Mountain Park within walking distance: the Mill Mountain Star, the Discovery Center, the wildflower garden, and many opportunities to picnic, play, and hike

More Adventure Us

Cristy Carr

Cristy and her family keep busy writing, tutoring, homeschooling, homesteading, and adventuring in the beautiful Appalachian mountains.
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