Moms’ Guide to Sunset Zoo in Manhattan


The sun is shining, and the warm weather has finally arrived, so considering taking a trip out to the Sunset Zoo! Use this guide for some helpful tips for your visit.

Plan Your Visit

2333 Oak Street, Manhattan, KS 66502

Hours of Operation
March 18, 2024-October 31, 2024, 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Daily
November 1, 2024-March 31, 2025, 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Daily

Sunset Zoo is closed on Thanksgiving, the day after Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas day, New Year’s Day, and Employee Training Days

Adults (age 13+): $6
Children (age 3-12 ): $4
Infants (age 2 & under): Free
Friends of Sumer Zoo Member: Unlimited entry with purchase of a yearly membership

*Membership also entitles you to a gift shop discount and free popcorn at the concession stand. This is always a nice treat for my older children!

Mom Tip

Sunset Zoo is part of the AZA program. With a Sunset Zoo membership, you can receive reciprocity at more than 150 AZA Zoos and Aquariums nationwide! That means you can visit other zoos (around Kansas and in other states) either free or half off. What a deal! For our family, this is a worthwhile value that we get our money’s worth easily. One of our favorite other zoos to visit in the region is the Topeka Zoo and with a Sunset Zoo membership, admittance to the Topeka Zoo is free!

*Parking is free and you can easily park in the zoo parking lot across from the ticket booth.

Plan Your Day

Although small, this is a mighty cool zoo! You’ll likely be able to see all the animals and visit the exhibits in just a couple of hours. Because of the size and layout, I can easily take all 3 boys by myself and not feel overwhelmed! Size wise and based on the layout of the zoo, you reasonably can walk the entirety of the zoo in less than two hours. You can spend more or less time pretty intentionally, depending upon your needs. Sunset Zoo is a great place to visit, even if you only have limited time to fit in an activity.

The zoo takes advantage of Manhattan’s topography and has animal enclosures all throughout the hillside. Recently opened is Expedition Asia, which includes leopards, tigers, and sloth bears. The zoo also recently added two takins and announced the plan to add an okapi.

You are welcome to bring your own stroller or wagon (which is super helpful for little feet), especially when they need to walk up hill. The Zoo also offers push wagons, single strollers, and double strollers for rent.

Wild Wonders Room

The Wild Wonders Room is located at the back of Sunset Zoo’s entry plaza. Families can view the habitats of:

  • Domestic Ferret
  • Eastern Screech Owl
  • Common Boa Constrictor
  • Atlantic Mollies
  • Poison Dart Frogs
  • Cane Toads
  • Puerto Rican Crested Toads (Coming Soon)

There’s also animal-themed books, blocks, shells, and animal toys that everyone can enjoy.

Restrooms and Nursing Area

Sunset Zoo’s Parent nursing room is available in the Wild Wonders Room during regular business hours. There’s a cushion chair, charging stations, changing tables, and child-sized toilets and sinks. Do note that it closes at 3 p.m. on Thursdays for cleaningThere are also unisex bathrooms located near the playground with changing tables.

The Expedition Cafe Concession Stand

Grab a bite to eat at The Expedition Cafe Concession Stand! There is a good selection of food and drink at the concession stand, which is centrally located within the zoo.

January 2, 2024 to May 21, 2024, Friday through Sunday 11:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
May 22, 2024 to mid-August 2024, Daily 11:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Mom Tips

  • Bring a reusable bottle for $2 refills of any soft drink or slush!
  • Outside food and drinks are allowed as a more budget friendly option.
  • Note that this is where you can get the free popcorn, if you are a Sunset Zoo member.

Sunset Zoo Playground

There is a fun playground located in the center of the zoo that includes a large covered area with picnic tables. The playground features a large play structure in the middle of the area, some grassy space to run around, and swings. The playground also borders the flamingo exhibit, which makes for a nice place to take a break and still be able to see some of the animals. The playground can get crowded easily, but definitely plan to stop by; it is always a favorite stop of my kids and helps to break up the walking time! The space is largely contained with a fence blocking the East side of the playground, with plenty of seating to the West side. This makes for a pretty relaxing environment to let kids play while still keeping an eye on them.

Zoo Events

Be sure to stay up to date on events hosted by the zoo! My crew loves the Spooktacular Halloween event. Grownups can enjoy events such as Wine in the Wild and Brew at the Zoo (do note that some of the adult-themed events may have age restrictions)!

Additional Mom Tips

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Melissa Ferraro
Melissa and her husband (Tenured Professor at Kstate- Go Wildcats!!) moved to Manhattan Kansas from Florida about 7 years ago. They recently moved to St. George with their 3 boys (ages 6, 4, and 1) her mother in law, brother in law (age 15), 2 dogs, 2 fish, a tortoise, and a whole bunch of chickens! Melissa is a stay at home mama but has a background in child/adolescent social work and teaches night classes at Manhattan Christian College. If she’s not taking her kids to sports practice, after school activities, or play dates, you can catch her cooking, gardening, reading, and finding new fun recipes to try or home decor ideas on Pinterest.


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