Our friend Jessica wrote an awesome guest blog on why the Houston Zoo is so great! Jessica is one of those “super moms” that is so good about taking her kids out and about to have fun adventures. She and our good friend Melissa can be found around town with their three cute little boys. Living in Houston we often take for granted the fact that we have so many amazing attractions at our feet. This blog will remind Houstonians why we should patronize the zoo and non-Houstonians why the zoo is worth the drive!I LOVE the Houston Zoo. We could go every week and not get tired of it. As it stands we probably are at the zoo about twice a month. Most people think we’re crazy and/or call me an awesome mom for braving the zoo with 2 littles. You want to know a little secret though? It’s the easiest, most fun, and relaxing day you can have in Houston with your kids. If you don’t believe me follow along and I’ll lay out a few tips for not only surviving the zoo but ENJOYING the zoo!
Buy a membership! A day at the zoo without a membership would cost $40 for the boys and me. That is an expensive day!! I would be rushing around all day trying to make the most of the $40 I spent and not enjoy myself. We got the family membership which currently retails for $119. You can keep an eye on it throughout the year and get a better price. I got it for $89/year with an extra month (13 months for the price of 12). Considering we have been to the zoo over a dozen times it has definitely paid for itself!Bring a stroller or wagon. Even the biggest of “big kids” get tired of walking around by the end of the day. To avoid meltdown on their or YOUR part, bring some sort of vehicle to cart them around!
Download the Houston Zoo app. The first thing we do when we get there is pull up the app to see what is going on. There are tons of story times, zoo keeper talks, and shows throughout the day to keep you entertained. The only hard part is picking your favorite!Pack a lunch and BRING WATER! The latter is especially true in the summer time. First of all, the drinks don’t come with lids or straws (for the safety of the animals) so for little ones, this makes things difficult to start with. But a large water will set you back $3 and lunch for 3 can easily run into the $20’s. Pack a lunch and save yourself the headache of spending the extra money.If it’s hot out, break up your day by hitting up the “chill zones”. These are all air-conditioned houses that contain lots of fun things for the kids to see. Some of our favorites include: tropical bird house (which includes an area where you can see birds flying freely around you), Natural encounters (includes a fun tunnel where you can crawl “inside” a fish tank) and the reptiles and amphibians center (snakes, lizards and frogs, need I say more?). The aquarium is currently under construction and we can’t wait for that to be finished!
Feed the giraffes. It’s $5 for 3 pieces of lettuce but what a wonderful way to get CLOSE to such wonderful animals! And if you are lucky you may even get a kiss from a giraffe! Relax and let your kids lead! Sometimes we will go to the zoo and only see 3 or 4 things. I tell the kids what’s going on and they decide what we see and where we go. We’ve been to the zoo over a dozen times and we still stumble across things we have either forgotten about or have never seen every time we go.
A few more of our favorite things include:
The Swap Shop. Kids can bring in things that they find (antlers, shells, leaves, etc) and get points to buy other neat things. A word of caution: this place has lots of “stuff” so going in there with little ones can be a little stressful.
Story time and zooper challenge at the butterfly stage in the Children’s Zoo is always fun. And, they usually get a “prize” of animal trading cards.Animal Ice Pops at the chimpanzees, elephant baths, and meet the keeper at the sea lions are our favorite events to go to. Some of the talks aren’t as interesting for the littles if the animals don’t interact and these 3 always provide entertainment!
The Children’s Zoo has 3 different play areas for the kiddos. One traditional playground and 2 other ropes/slides play areas by the otter. Those are always fun places to stop at if they aren’t too crowded.
The petting zoo has adorable little goats that the kids can pet and brush. Just don’t forget the anti-bacterial lotion on the way out!SKIP: the carousel and splash pad. We never do the carousel because it costs money ($2-$3 each) and every place you go has a carousel. The splash pad we will sometimes go to in the summer because it’s so hot BUT it is overcrowded and so small (and pretty unimpressive). I think they’d do themselves a huge favor by redoing it during the winter but in the meantime, skip this area altogether if you can. I hope I’ve inspired you to get out and explore our wonderful Houston Zoo! Who knows, maybe I’ll see you there next time I go!