Turtle Back Zoo in Essex County is a family-friendly NJ zoo with lots to offer. With animals from giraffes to big cats to sea lions and experiences like a treetop obstacle course, the whole family will love it here.
Turtle Back Zoo, West Orange
- Address: 560 Northfield Ave.
West Orange, NJ 07052
This Essex County run zoo is not only a great place for NJ families to visit, but it’s a nationally accredited zoo. With over 800 animals from giraffes to tigers to animals native to Jersey, the whole family will adore this unique and impressive NJ Zoo.
Not only can you take in animals from all over the world, but there’s so much more to do there. From Behind the Scenes Experience Tours to feeding giraffes or bird to a treetop obstacle course, there’s something for everyone here.
What is Turtle Back Zoo?
Opened in 1962, this NJ institute is funded by the County of Essex and the Essex County Parks Department. This non-profit organization next to the South Mountain Reservation is home to over 800 animals.
Turtle Back Zoo Pricing
One of the draws for this zoo is that as a not-for-profit organization, the pricing is reasonable, especially compared to other comparable attractions.
- Adults, 13-61: $14
- Children, 2-12: $12
- Seniors, 62+: $12.00
- Under 2: free
Season pass pricing:
Join the Zoological Society of NJ for unlimited admission for a year.
- One Adult: $105
- One Adult plus One: $130
- Family of 2 adults + up to 4 Children: $155
- Family plan plus One: $170
Head to the Zoological Society’s page to learn the benefits of membership, including zoo reciprocation across the country, discounts, and member exclusives.
Parking at the zoo is free.
- Single Stroller:_ $7
- Double Stroller: $10
- Adult course: $30/person
- Junior course: $20/child
- Zipline: $15/person
- Adult course + zipline: $35/person
- Junior course + zipline: $27/person
The mini golf is located off site at 9 Cherry Lane, West Orange, NJ 07052.
- Adult: $12
- Children: $10
- Seniors: $10
Turtle Back Zoo Hours
The Zoo is open year-round, with exception of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day.
Hours: 10am-3:30pm with the park remaining open for 30 minutes after last admission.
What you’ll find at Turtle Back Zoo
With the support of the county parks commission, the Zoo is constantly adding features to benefit visitors and animals alike. Here you’ll find..
- Hundreds of animals from around the world
- Behind the Scenes tours
- Unique experiences
- Touch tanks
- Petting Zoo
- Mini Golf Safari
- Butterfly tent
- Aviary where you can feed the birds
- Camps and after school programs
- Zoo Train
- Savannah Cafe
- Prehistoric Playground
- Endangered Species carousel
- Treetop adventure course and ziplining
Animals you’ll find at the zoo
With over 800 animals and countless exhibits, your family will adore this zoo!
- Sea Turtles
- Sea Lions
- River Otters
- Lambs, pigs, chickens, cows
- .. and many more! They’re always adding to their animals and finding ways to help restore endangered species.
Turtle Back Zoo Events:
TBZ offers multiple different events year-round. These are offered for different prices, but at always sure to be a blast!
- Homeschool days
- Behind the Scenes of different exhibits.
- Stream Schools
- Boo at the Zoo
- Holiday Light Spectacular
Learn about all of the events on their site.
Need to know about the Zoo
- The zoo is huge! There are lots to see, so while you could knock it out in an hour is you rush through, you can also easily spend a whole day there.
- The train is included in admission and you can go as many times as you’d like. If you know your kids will definitely want to go on it, go when you arrive. The lines can get really long!
- The Treetop course is fun for kids 6+ and adults, with kids and adult courses available. Reservations aren’t required, but especially during busy seasons, they are encouraged.
- Bring a bit of cash. Some experiences cost some money but only accept cash. (pony rides, butterfly tent, and food stick in the aviary all cost $2)
- Also, quarters. The petting zoo has food dispensers to feed the farm animals, so you’ll need quarters for that.
- While the zoo is open year-round, some things will be closed in the “off” season (winter). These include the Savannah Cafe and the treetop course.
FAQs about Turtle Back Zoo
What day is Turtle Back Zoo free?
Each year they have an Essex County Open House which gives everyone free admission. In 2019 it was held on June 1, but keep an eye on their social media for updates.
Is Turtle Back Zoo indoors?
The vast majority of the zoo is not indoors. There is plenty of shaded areas and even spray stations in the summer, and a few exhibits are indoors.