Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Travel: Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence, Rhode Island

 When planning our trip to Rhode Island this past September, I did lots of research on things to do mostly outdoors because COVIDOne thing that kept coming up was the Roger Williams Park Zoo (link).  It sounded promising, but I was getting turned off by the mixed reviews from the locals.  Some admitted to not visiting the park in over a decade, yet still felt the need to give their opinion.  Being only a short drive away from the famous Bronx Zoo (link), I didn't want to waste time or money visiting a zoo that would disappoint us in comparison.  

Despite my conflicting thoughts, we purchased tickets and planned for a whole afternoon exploring the Roger Williams Zoo.  I've been meaning to post this for a really long time to set the record straight on how the Roger Williams Park Zoo is modern day!

honest review and what animals are in the roger williams zoo in ri

Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence, RI

Based on reviews, we expected a smaller, disorderly, run down zoo.  When we pulled up, we were immediately surprised.  The Roger Williams Park Zoo looked new, well kept, and WELCOMING!  Lines were short, staff kept things orderly, and everything looked well maintained if not new.  My first thought was relief and then panic because I didn't plan enough time to explore!

Since we visited in mid September, the entrance to the park was lined with the most beautiful pumpkin display.  Hundreds of pumpkins dangled from the tree bridge over our heads and dozens of carved jack-o-lanterns lined the path.  We learned later on that if we visited a week later we could have seen a fabulous Halloween jack-o-lantern display at night.  Based on the small bit we saw, I was a little disappointed that we would miss it!

Fun Fact:  The Roger Williams Park Zoo dates back to 1872 making it the first accredited zoo in the New England area and the fifth oldest zoo in the US.  How cool is that?!

Contrary to the reviews I read online, there were lots of things to do and see in the Roger Williams Park Zoo.  First was the vast array of animals to watch and appreciate.  There were the typical zoo animals like elephants and giraffes, plus other unique ones like giant anteaters that were SO cool to see and my personal favorite, a pair of blue macaws!  There was a farm area that was kind of like a petting zoo except there was interactive activities that were designed to act like a Rhode Island farm.  Here you can see a donkey, gigantic rabbits, goats, and even a barn owl.  Another exhibit that was really enjoyable was the Faces of the Rainforest!  Here you get to see and have intimate encounters with the playful monkeys shown in the video above, sloths, otters, and more.  You can take a stroll along the Wetlands Trail where you can see what wildlife you spot below you.  We found frogs and turtles galore.  The list goes on, but you get the point, there's lots of animals to appreciate at this zoo! 

When not enjoying the animals, there are plenty of other things to do.  To start, there's a very large eating area.  Here you can get lunch cafeteria style.  We had burgers and hot dogs.  Other then being a little pricey, we were very happy with it.  Next to the eating area is the gift shop where we had to buy some novelties.  My daughter picked out a small, stuffed red panda and my son picked out gigantic elephant ears to wear.  There is also an impressive Hasboro play area in the Roger Williams Park Zoo.  You'll find things like a rock wall, water activities, fort building, relaxing hammocks, and a bajillion other things that I don't remember in the play and exploration area.  Finally, you can get your adventure on with a short train ride that my son made us do TWICE, pony rides, and pretty intense zip lining that we skipped.

The above video is of my son trying to talk to the elephants at the zoo.  He must of thought that his new elephant ears gave him some sort of elephant speaking super powers!

To reiterate, the Roger Williams Park Zoo (link) is clean, well maintained, orderly, filled to the brim with things to do and see, has a clean place to eat, AND has interactive experiences.  It really was a pleasant experience and I would go back again in a heart beat!  If we're being honest, I liked it way better than the Bronx Zoo, but shh, don't tell anyone.  Just make sure that you plan enough time to do everything without feeling rushed.

I would highly recommend a trip to the Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence, RI.

As a double bonus, the zoo is located in the Roger Williams Park which is filled with fun things to do.  To fully appreciate the park, you may want to plan two afternoons here when visiting Rhode Island.  One for the zoo and one for the park.

What is your favorite zoo animal?


  1. Now that my girls are grown, we haven't been to a zoo in ages. I think the last one we went to was in Canada and that's just because they wanted to see a panda in person. There's an awesome zoo in Chicago that's totally free (well, parking is like $30 but if you can get lucky and find parking on the street it really is free but you have better odds of winning the powerball than that happening). It's the Lincoln Park Zoo. If you're ever in Chicago, I highly recommend stopping in.

    Glad this zoo didn't disappoint!

    1. I've always wanted to go to Chicago! When I had an opportunity to go on a business trip a few years back, I freaked out b/c of a snow storm and canceled. One day we'll get there, but in the Summer. We'll have to interrogate you for recommendations. :)

    2. I'd have your whole trip planned out LOL

  2. I've never seen an anteater in person, nor lemurs, nor sweet little possums, sadly. But I generally do not support ZOOs. We have one in my city, they try to keep animals in as natural surroundings as possible, but the one in Belgrade is all cages and concrete and makes me boil everytime I think of my visit once there. I cannot remember which animal I loved best in ZOOs as a kid, but probably bears and olyphants.

    1. This one was natural surroundings, but the Bronx Zoo has some pretty awful conditions. We saw the Polar Bear two years ago and it looked like it was having a panic attack. A month later, the poor guy died. The saddest of the animals in the Bronx Zoo in the Rhino sitting in a cage the size of my office. Every time I see him, he's laid out on his side just staring at the onlookers. The rhino looked so sad and lonely. The Roger Williams Zoo had all happy animals in very natural types of habitats. They also all had stories and were mostly rescues.

    2. If you watch the elephant video, you kind of get an idea of the natural surroundings. The elephants area was so large, my little Antonio was screaming for it in elephant talk. LOL

    3. Our olyphant Martha is depressed, has been for a decade or so ever since her husband died and they have not brought her anyone new, so they paired her up with a giraffe or a camel, I forgot, to keep her company, but she just goes around in circles like a very sad and lost soul. I hate and despise zoos.

  3. My favorite would be the penguins, though they’re not at every zoo. We have 5 great zoos in our state, the best being the Columbus Zoo, made famous by Jack Hanna. We went to the San Diego Zoo in 2019 and it lived up to its reputation. Wonderful!

    I wonder if all the negative reviews were by people who are against zoos? There are a lot of them. We cracked up when we went to the Indianapolis Zoo a few years ago because they heavily promoted all their wildlife conservation programs. As in, hit you over the head with it.

    P.S. I was excited to hear your voice in the video!

    1. LOL, you PS made me laugh. It's me!!

      It could be, but they mostly sounded like a bunch of Karens. The wrote about how the zoo is dirty and disorganized and how there wasn't enough to do there. My experience was the complete and total opposite. One day I'll get to California, but I'm afraid that the giant earthquake will happen when I'm there.. How irrational is that?!!

    2. I admit I was a little worried about an earthquake in San Francisco, but not anywhere else in California.

    3. That makes me feel better, at least I'm not the only one. :)

  4. I would never turn down any visit to any zoo


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