All the Buzz about Bee City Zoo: Summerville, SC

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Have you visited the Bee City Zoo? There is something so wonderful about watching your child’s face light up when exploring new places and learning new things. One place that is always sure to excite and encourage curiosity is the zoo!

A zoo that is really setting itself apart from the conventional animal sanctuary is Bee City Zoo in Cottageville, SC. Recently, my family took a day trip to this little animal kingdom to see what all the buzz was about. We truly had such an adventure exploring this zoo and your family will too!

Tickets were provided by Bee City Zoo for this review. The opinions are those of the writer.

In this article, I will tell you all about our journey around Bee City, the must-do activities, and unique exhibits. This little off-the-beaten-path gem has so much to offer. It’s more than worth the 1 hour and 45-minute drive from Columbia, SC.

This zoo is dedicated to the conservation of the honey bee and its extraordinary role in our ecosystem. Don’t let the name fool you though, there are many other activities to see and an abundance of animals to learn about.

As we venture into the heart of Bee City I’ll tell you all about our experience feeding the animals, learning about the honey bee, and taking a safari ride! Prepare to get excited about this heartwarming zoo and start planning a trip for your family to explore Bee City!

Scenes from the zoo

Here’s what you’ll see at Bee City Zoo.

Arriving at Bee City Zoo

Where is Bee City Zoo?

Cottageville is a very sweet country town right outside of Summerville, SC. Getting to the zoo in this town will definitely require a GPS or maps application. It is nestled off back roads with a few signs directing you along the way.

Bee City Zoo entrance

Once you get close though, you won’t miss the entrance. The main parking lot right outside the zoo doesn’t have a lot of space, but there is an overflow parking lot directly across from it that is a very short walk. The parking lots are gravel and dirt but we had no issue at all pushing a stroll to the entrance.

When you get to the ticket gates there are 4 lanes with workers prepared to help you. For this article, we were given tickets to visit Bee City and take a safari ride, along with the activity coins for feeding birds, kangaroos, and the monkeys.

The employees will explain which animals can eat which foods, but don’t worry about forgetting the rules because they are well-posted throughout the zoo! Safaris are by reservation only and it’s a good idea to check their schedule online because you can book before you go, or check at the gate to see if seats are still available when you arrive.

Purchasing animal snacks and food

If you would like to feed the animals, you’ll need to purchase some when you arrive. Large cups of oats, and carrots are $3 each. There is also a $12 combo that includes each of those cups as well as monkeyos to feed the monkeys, and coins to enter the bird and kangaroo exhibit for 2 people. If you’d like to purchase the Monkeyos separately they are $2, and the coins providing 2 entries each in the kangaroo exhibit or the bird exhibit are also $2.

Once you’ve got your tickets and animal treats it’s time to explore the zoo!

Lemurs waiting for treats at Bee City Zoo

Feeding The Animals

What animals are at Bee City Zoo?

  • Monkeys
  • Lemurs
  • Kangaroos
  • Birds
  • Giraffes
  • Reptiles
  • Sloth
  • Farm animals
  • More!


One of the first areas we decided to explore, and arguably the most fun, was the monkeys and lemurs. We had such a good time holding out their treats for them to grab directly out of your hands! Some of the monkeys do have a pulley system or tubes they retrieve their food from but there are plenty of stations to hand feed as well.

Speaking of hands, there are several hand-washing stations around so make sure to take advantage when you see one!

Feeding a monkey at Bee City Zoo

Llamas, goats, and more

Past the monkey area, you can find a plethora of hooved animals that are waiting not so patiently for their treats as well! We got to feed llamas, goats, emu, camels, and zebras! There are several other exotic deer and antelope through this route so make sure to save some snacks for them too.

Some of these animals can eat the treats right out of your hand while others have areas to pour their snacks.

We arrived at the zoo around 11 am on a Saturday and I wondered if the animals would have been full by then, but not a single animal we encountered turned away a snack! This is something to consider if arriving later in the day, however.

Llamas at Bee City Zoo

Birds and Kangaroos

We really enjoyed visiting the exhibits that required coins to enter like the bird feeding area, and the kangaroos. Inside the bird exhibit there are lots of birds flying above and also some ducks waddling around so be mindful of where you step!

The kangaroos had definitely been well-fed by the time we arrived as they were not nearly as interested in the food as the other animals. There is a trail you have to stay on inside the kangaroo exhibit, but the kangaroos are clearly not aware of the rules and roam as they please. It is truly an up-close encounter with them!

Are there Giraffes at Bee City Zoo?

One of the final exhibits we really enjoyed was feeding the giraffes! The zoo currently has two toddler giraffes in their care that are so curious and love their carrots! The feeding times do vary for the giraffes so make sure to check the times when you arrive. This feeding is included in your admission and it’s a very up close feeding with an attendant monitoring the experience.

Safari Ride

Our safari ride was scheduled at 1 pm on a Saturday which must have been a popular time because it was packed full! There are signs directing you to the safari area so if you book a ride make sure to look for this spot ahead of time so you don’t have to rush there when you’re ready.

The safari ride consists of two tractor-pulled trains that drive you through an outdoor exhibit full of some really fun animals! You stop twice along the ride in two separate areas so you can hand out treats.

Our ride was directed by zoo attendants who were really knowledgeable about all of the animals on the ride. They introduce you, by name, to some of their unique or really friendly animals such as E.T. the camel or Elvis the emu.

On our ride, we also saw some amazing bovines, zebras, and yak! When the trains stop, you are able to stand up and move around but you cannot leave the train itself. No worries though, the animals know what you’re there for! Within a couple of minutes, the trains are surrounded by animals looking for a treat and they truly get up close and personal.

On safari at Bee City Zoo

While strollers are not allowed on the train there is an area to stow them inside the safari area, as well as a place for your animal treats if you still have some. My family had so much fun doing this and I highly recommend booking the experience!

Animal Encounters

Bee City offers many options for animal encounters and petting zoo-style interactions. I was so excited to enter the reptile area and see they had a baby (well 2-year-old) alligator out of its enclosure for visitors to interact with! The zookeeper was so experienced with these animals and she knew so much about the alligators in her care as well as how they live in the wild.

Holding an alligator at Bee City Zoo

We were allowed to hold the alligator, which she gave us instructions on how to do, and it was such a great experience! If you have a reptile lover in your family you will love this exhibit! Lots of amazing snakes, lizards, and turtles in the reptile area.

For an additional cost, the zoo does offer personal encounters with a variety of animals. You can view the prices and animal list on their website, it includes experiences with armadillos, kangaroos, and even a sloth! We did not do one of these encounters but I would look into booking one for a special occasion like a birthday party!

Bee City Zoo

The Bees!

Now to the zoo’s namesake. There is a wonderful little exhibit inside the zoo where visitors can see the bee houses and even a hive you can open up and look for the queen! On the zoo’s website, you can find a ton of information about their involvement with the Lowcountry Beekeeper’s Association and even join as a member. You can buy honey from the bee’s you see here as well as many other homemade products from their beeswax.

While I did expect more of an experience with the bees, it was really amazing seeing the bees at work in their homes and reading about all the family does to educate the public about the importance of the honey bee and the art of beekeeping!

Bee hive at Bee City Zoo

Food and Drink at Bee City Zoo

There is a cafe located inside the zoo that can accommodate all of your family’s basic needs. We were able to bring water bottles in with us, I didn’t bring any other food but it doesn’t say on the zoo’s website that you are not allowed to. The cafe has what I would consider normal prices for an entertainment venue. While we did not eat here I did see prices between 10 – 15 dollars for meals like chicken tenders, hamburgers, and hot dogs.

Gift Shop and More

I’m not normally one to browse a gift shop because I will inevitably impulse buy something overpriced. We were very impressed however with the prices at the Bee City gift shop! We found stuffed animals between 10 and 20 dollars! My son fell in love with a little bee we found and at these prices, I couldn’t say no!

There are tons of fun gifts in there as well, from honeycombs and lotions made from the bees that live here, to local artists’ souvenirs and of course some personalized Bee City Zoo memorabilia. You have to exit the zoo through the gift shop so if you were hoping to avoid your kids seeing all the trinkets and things you’re out of luck, but it’s worth the tour if you’re looking for something fun to take home!

Gift shop at Bee City Zoo

Last tip for the Bee City Zoo

One additional thing that felt worth a mention is the cell phone service. Or rather, lack thereof. We had ZERO signal once we arrived at the zoo, which I wasn’t expecting in a place so close to Summerville. Luckily, the zoo has very good wifi you can connect to for free so don’t panic if you see no bars!

Bee City Zoo
1066 Holly Ridge Lane, Cottageville, SC

General admission costs $15-17 per person. Purchase your tickets online at Bee City Zoo.

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Meagan Carrol
About the Author
I am a born and raised local who has a passion for exploring new towns, hiking, and attending local events. As a mother and full-time web developer, I balance my career and family life while still finding time to travel the world with my husband. My love for trying new foods and visiting breweries keeps my adventures exciting and flavorful! I am always on the lookout for new experiences and so excited to share them with you!

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