Kansas City Zoo Winter Visit – Penguin Walk, Polar Bears and More!!

Last updated on March 27th, 2024 at 10:53 pm.

We were excited to have a Kansas City Zoo winter visit even though the weather was starting to shift. Why is a winter visit to the Kansas City Zoo Great? It was a fun time for the whole family and below are all the animals we visited, fun winter events to attend, and how to have a great time in winter at the zoo.

A brisk cool day in Kansas City is a great time to go to the biggest zoo in the Midwest. The beautiful Kansas City Zoo is open year-round weather permitting. Not all animals are easy to see at all times of the year, but there is still lots to do.

Kansas City Zoo Entrance

Kansas City Zoo Winter Visit

Entrance to the Kansas City Zoo

The admission gates and facilities (such as restrooms, gift shop, and first food stop) are located at the entrance to the Kansas City Zoo.

This is also where special occasions and small parties are held. In November and December, it’s also where Santa and a few of his elves are located for photos and kids to share their holiday wishes. See the cute gift shop below that is at the entrance of the zoo.

Gift shop at Kansas City Zoo

Zoo Lights and Christmas Village

Christmas Village at Kansas City Zoo

Christmas Village is cute and a real journey through the North Pole for kids.

Santa at Kansas City Zoo

Meet Santa at the KC Zoo

You will find the entryway is colorful and exciting and the kids will love it. In December, the zoo has LED lights and characters and lightscapes that all look much different after dark.

Flowers at Kansas City Zoo

The colorful entryway makes kids’ eyes light up and gets them very excited.

Pathways at Kansas City Zoo

GloWild lantern festival opens in September and this year is scheduled to close on December 30, 2022.

As you walk in the entrance the first exhibits you will see are just past the bistro café near the river otters.

LED lights Winter Magic at Kansas City Zoo

A Fun Way to Explore the Zoo

Scooter Pals

You can also rent strollers and animal Scooter Pals.

Strollers for all at Kansas City Zoo

These scooters keep you moving with the kids and are so much fun. You can rent these for .35 per minute. Scooter Pals are fuzzy and fun electric scooters that will make your Zoo adventure even more memorable.

People Movers at Kansas City Zoo

Stop by the stroller barn near the entrance of the Zoo and find your adorable animal ride! Stay warm visiting the many indoor exhibits that are controlled climate.

Open Exhibits at the Kansas City Zoo in Winter

River Otters

First, you will see the cute and playful River Otters. River otters are so squirmy and funny and they come right up to you through the glass enclosures that they built.

They have a nice big play area where they can climb on wood logs and have a little running river end to hide and play in.

Polar Bear Passage

Polar Bear Passage at Kansas City Zoo

Another of the first exhibits you will see is the Polar Bear Passage experience. 

It’s very cool, polar bears have a nice closure and you can see them from all different angles. They even get wet in the ice cold temperatures, sheesh.

Todd Travel in Missouri at Kansas City Zoo

Once as you walk past the polar bear exhibit you pass cafés and small areas where you can grab something to eat if you’d like and it’s wonderful layout and very convenient.

The Endangered Species Carousel

Carousel at Kansas City Zoo

The Endangered Species Carousel is one of the most classic rides at the Zoo. Choose your favorite animal, and take a ride with old fashioned fun! Children aged two and under are free with a paying adult. Children under 42″ tall must ride with an adult. Head to World Gate Train and Tram station to purchase or redeem your online ticket.

The Penguin Plaza Exhibit

Next to the penguin exhibit is a beautiful carousel and the Lorikeet encounters exhibit, which is a bird in an enclosed space that allows you to get immersed inside the cage with the birds.

Penguin March at Kansas City Zoo

The next stop is the Helzberg penguin plaza, it’s a wonderful space that has all the different facets of penguin mania. Inside the plaza, there’s a pool that goes from outside to the inside and you’re able to see the Penguins living like they would be living in a cold natural habitat.

Penguin at Kansas City Zoo

As you’re going to the penguin plaza, you can go down below and see them swimming around inside caves under the water you walk. Down the spiral walkway, down deeper in the exhibit and you can see more penguins swimming around.

Penguins at Kansas City Zoo

They feed the penguins twice per day, at 10 am and 3 pm, and they get to eat as much as they want. How much each penguin eats is recorded to help monitor their health.

You’ll often see zookeepers working, moving in and out of the enclosure to feed and care for the penguins.

Penguin March again at Kansas City Zoo

There’s hundreds of penguins, and the viewing area where you can watch videos and learn about them is really educational. Santa then swims with the penguins as they swim around him and he poses for photos on some special days. The Penguin March is on weekends at 11am. Very cute and fun for the whole family and these guys are a highlight of a Kansas City Zoo winter visit.

Don’t worry if you are already exhausted, there are small play areas for the younger kids and pit stops throughout the park journey that are great rest stops for adults and the whole family.

Zoo Train

Train at Kansas City Zoo

There is a zoo train and a tram to Africa if you need to walk less you need to rest. It’s’ a slow 25 minute choo choo across the park and back.  $3 round trip, while aboard, you can see the many zoo sights.

You might even spot a few animals, like kangaroos and camels, right along the railroad tracks. The train runs daily, weather permitting. Children age two and under are free with a paying adult.

For certain shows and exhibits,  they have chats with zoo experts, at different times throughout the day so you can learn more about the animals and chat with the caretakers.

Up towards the reptile exhibit you’ll find the swamp monkeys on the left which is a fun exhibit to see, very wild and cool looking creatures. You can get up close here.

Monkey at Kansas City Zoo

Up towards the river and reptile exhibit you can go to the stingray exhibit which is a very large indoor stingray exhibition showing a variety of sizes and types. You can touch them and see them in action up close.

Sting Rays at Kansas City Zoo

The Discovery Barn

Discovery Barn at Kansas City Zoo

In the discovery area you can see two beautiful McCaw’s living inside in the upper level of the discovery museum. Just openly flying around. Somehow they don’t fly out the door, their wings are clipped and they’re trained. Besides, it’s cold out there!

Macaws at Kansas City Zoo

You will find this a great place to bring kids to do a close up encounter with a variety of different animals.

Near the Discover Barn is BILLY GOATS GRUFF, walk into the goat’s world through a series of decks that extend into their yard. The Billy Goat exhibit sits adjacent to the Discovery Barn.

Goats at Kansas City Zoo

Also close o the Discovery museum, you’ll see the camel feeding deck where you can actually see camels up close and I believe you can feed them. Feeding is only when zoo personnel only are on site.

camels at Kansas City Zoo

In the Discovery museum, they also have several species of frogs and toads, including the blue poison dart frog and marine toad.

They even house several primates, such as ring-tailed lemurs and squirrel monkeys.

Monkey eating at Kansas City Zoo
Monkeys at Kansas City Zoo

As you go up towards the Camel exhibit you’ll see signs that explain you can camp out at the zoo in Summer. Rent a tent and have a blast camping with the animals under the summer moon.

Camels at Kansas City Zoo


The walkway through the upper area of the zoo is beautiful and there are lots for the kids to see like the kangaroo and birds of Australia exhibit and more. See the Australian Kookaburra and more, in a walkabout trail through the Australian outback at the Northern area of the zoo.

Australia at Kansas City Zoo

I recommend the zoo for family and friends in the winter in Kansas city, there is a good amount of stuff to do and animals to see. Plus, we must support out local city zoos. They have a big responsibility to us and to the animals. In Kansas City they are doing it right.

The High Points in Winter

1. Polar Bear Passage
2. Santa’s Visit
3. Penguin March (every weekend through Feb)
4. Africa in Winter
5. Australia
6. Zoo Train
7. Picnic in the park

Tips for Visiting the Kansas City Zoo in Winter

1. Wear warm clothes and bring extra.
2. Pack snacks and meals.
3. Charge and don’t forget your camera.
4. Charge and bring your phone.
5. Bring a stroller for small children.
6. Plan for a 2-4 hour visit.
7. Buy tickets at a discount.
8. Wear comfortable shoes.
9. Bring a small backpack.
10. Bring Extra Water.

Other Things to Know About the KC Zoo:

  • You may bring outside food into the Zoo.
  • There are picnic areas throughout.
  • The Kansas City Zoo hosts special events all year long including events for Halloween and Christmas!


Enjoy a full year of fun at the Kansas City Zoo, where every visit is a new adventure! KC Zoo Membership includes unlimited admission to the Zoo, discounts on concessions and retail, a subscription to Expeditions quarterly newsletter, discounts on select Zoo events, and more. Your membership helps support the Zoo’s Conservation Fund, preserving wildlife at home and around the world!

FOTZ members receive a 50% discount on admission to Zoos that are on the reciprocal list.

Kansas city Zoo Map

Check out this interactive zoo map so you can plan your Kansas City Zoo winter visit.

Map of Kansas City Zoo

Address: 6800 Zoo Drive, Kansas City, MO 64132

The Kansas City Zoo is located in historic Swope Park with easy access from I-435 and 71 Highway. We’re just minutes from downtown, the Country Club Plaza, and surrounding metro cities.

Get Directions

Hours Kansas City Zoo:
Weekdays: 9:30 am – 4:00 pm. Weekends: 9:30 am – 5:00 pm.

More Winter Fun In & Near Kansas City

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