Welcome to the 30 Days of Summer – Go-To Guide for Moms!
Going to the zoo is a fun time for all ages, but especially children. If this is their first time, you can see their eyes open in amazement as they look upon a polar bear or lion for the first time. In addition, going to the zoo with your children is a learning experience. Coming face to face with these incredible creatures is something they will talk about for a long time.
Moreover, zoos today not only allow for a fun time, but an educational one as well. In fact, more schools today are taking kids on day trips to the zoo to teach them about different animals, as well as why conservation is so important.
Making a day trip to the zoo is fun – but can easily turn into a nightmare if you do not plan well. Here are a few tips and tricks to keep everyone’s excitement high and crying to a minimum.
Take some time and check your local zoo website for daily schedules and special events. This way you can pick a day which might have some special features you can see which are already included in your admission! By checking out the zoo website before the day of the trip, you can choose which exhibits you would like to visit and avoid wasting time upon arrival deciding where to go. You can print maps ahead of time and create an agenda.
You may also want to see if they have special admission for certain days of the week or before a certain hour. Special passes might be had through sites like Groupon or Living Social, or a multi-pass for a combination zoo/aquarium pass might save you money. Google your local zoo and also the word “discount” and see what comes up.
Visiting the zoo in the summer can bring about issues with temperature. Summer temperatures can be unbearable, so it’s always a good idea to be prepared depending on what part of the country you live in. Here are some things to keep in mind when heading out during hot days:
- Dress children appropriately. Little bodies tend to get hot quickly, and if they are miserable everyone else will be too. Bring an extra change of clothes, sunglasses, and hats. Don’t forget the sunscreen!
- Bring lots of cold, iced-down water. Most zoos will not sell drinks with straws for fear of them being dropped and ending up in the animals’ mouths, so parents should remember this and refrain from bringing anything with straws. Water in squeeze bottles or sippy cups is a better choice.
- If bringing a baby, pack the diaper bag wisely. A day at the zoo can last a long time, so parents should make sure to pack plenty of diapers, bottles, pacifiers, extra clothes, and food. Strollers or wagons are always a good idea.
Pack Just Right
The idea is to pack just what is needed, not extra items, so the day is spent enjoying the animals and not lugging around overstuffed bags. If you have a wagon, we find that using it rather than a stroller is better – easier to carry things and easy to get little ones in and out too.
Bring Lunch from Home:
- Most zoos have cafes, but the prices can be expensive and the lines can be long. It can easily cost over $50 for lunch for a family of four. Way over my budget! Instead, pack a lunch from home having everyone help out.
- Get suggestions from each member of the family.
- Fresh fruit is a great choice and easy to eat. Don’t bring along items that will melt – like chocolate. Choose sandwiches, fruits, pretzels, and raisins. Try to pack things that will keep in a small cooler.
- Snacks are a good idea too for mid-morning stops and after lunch. Children tend to eat small “meals” throughout the day, and those pretzel stands can become tempting.
Although small children generally love to see new animals, older kids may complain about seeing the same thing over and over again. To keep older kids interested, parents can spend a few days before the trip encouraging them to learn about the animals they will be seeing. Print out information sheets about various animals to take along, or a list of questions for kids to answer while walking through the zoo. The child with the most correct answers can pick a place to go for ice cream after the zoo or pick out a special souvenir at the gift shop. Besides making the day more interesting for older kids, this activity will also help them learn more!
Know Your Child’s Limit
We each have children that can handle different levels of stimulation and excitement. Try to remember to plan some downtime during the zoo visit. Find a shady spot to rest and relax in the afternoon. If you have older kids who like to explore, give them the chance to view an area of the zoo as a group or with another adult, while younger ones take a break. Making sure you do not over-extend yourself and your children will keep the day running smoothly.
It always pays to plan ahead. By planning accordingly, thinking of ways to make the most of the day, and taking advantage of zoo resources, parents can make trips to the zoo memorable family events.
When was the last time your family had a zoo visit?