Going to the zoo with my family to kick off summer break has been a tradition for us since our oldest child was a baby. We always have so much fun watching as the kids take in all the animals and their, at times, very comical quirks. I myself love to observe the mama animals caring for their young, just as I do. But these memorable zoo trips do require some planning, especially, when you have multiple children like me. We’re a busy family that’s always on the go and I’ve found that trips to the zoo are most fun when you map the day out in advance.
Sometimes families have to travel an hour or more to the nearest zoo and that requires even more planning. We used to live 3 hours from the nearest zoo and during that time I acquired some really great tips for taking the family to the zoo. Now fortunately we only live 20 minutes from the nearest one, but those tips still come in handy and I use them every time we go.
Always plan ahead! Whether you are coming from far away, or nearby, you want to make sure you have up to date information on the zoo’s hours of operation and inclement weather policy. Keep in mind when planning the times you will be at the zoo, the morning hours are usually the coolest, temperature wise, and the least busy times. You may also want to decide what animals you want to see the most and plan around their feeding and rest schedules. Most of the time this information can be found on the zoo’s website.
Check local stores, businesses, and websites for special deals for admittance into the zoo. Saving money is always a good idea and, during the spring and summer months you can often find really great on season passes or other deals. In fact, starting in July, if you purchase specially marked bags of Frito-Lay variety packs you can get a free kid’s pass to a participating AZA-accredited zoo! Find a specially marked Frito-Lay variety pack in store for more information on how to redeem your free kid’s pass and to use the zoo locator to find an AZA-accredited zoo or aquarium near you.
Pack your bag! It’s always a good idea to go to the zoo prepared! An example of items you may need are: sunscreen, a change of clothes (if you have little ones in tow), an umbrella and/or rain ponchos (if there is a chance of rain), baby wipes (they always come in handy), a camera, hand sanitizer, and hats for shade. And, obviously when you are taking little ones you will need to pack a bag for them as well. Fill a bag with diapers, snacks, cups and/or bottles, juice/water/or formula and toys for entertainment.
Bring your water and snacks for the road. Zoos have concessions and cafes to accommodate for a full day of activity, but sometimes the road to and from the zoo can be an adventure in and of itself. My family always takes one of those collapsible cooler bags, full of bottles of water and snacks like Frito-Lay’s variety packs (all of our Frito-Lay favorites in one place) and fruit and veggies.
Decide beforehand on your mode of transportation inside the zoo for the little ones. It’s no secret that little ones tire easy, heck I do too, and if there was a stroller big enough for me, I’d take it! You have several options you can choose from. You can take your own stroller, or a wagon is a great option for the teeny tiny to toddler age. Most zoos have strollers and some even have wagons you can rent. They usually charge around $7.00 for a single stroller, $10.00 for a double stroller or wagon. These rentals are good for the whole day. Then of course, for your tiny bits there is always the option to use a sling or wrap carrier. Babies always love to snuggle up close, but sometimes it can be awfully hot for mom or dad.
Speaking of hot, dress yourself and your children appropriately. If you go early enough in the morning or late enough in the evening, it may be a little chilly for your smaller children. Dress in layers or take a light jacket for those occasions. Stay hydrated and shaded as much as possible. Little ones and elderly can get overheated easily.
Get the older kids excited to go. As the kids get older, there are ways to get them even more involved and excited to see all of the animals. Before you go, let them google fun facts about the different animals at the zoo. If they are anything like my older kids, they love to google things! You can also have them participate in a scavenger hunt while you are exploring the zoo. You can make up your own or you can print my free one off here – Zoo Scavenger Hunt. Your family might also love monkeying around with Frito-Lay’s “Wild Like Me.” You can upload pictures of your family mimicking their favorite zoo animals like a monkey sticking out her tongue or a walrus proud of his tusks. Select photos will be featured on www.FritoLayZooFun.com and one lucky family will win a vacation to Atlantis Paradise Island in the Bahamas! For rules, visit http://fritolayzoofun.com/#rules.
The zoo is a great, inexpensive, educational and fun activity to do with your whole family! I hope these tips help make you trip to the zoo a success this year. I would love to hear from you on how they helped or any tips you might have to add to this list. Have a great summer and take a lot of pictures!
Thank you Frito-Lay for sponsoring this post. All opinions expressed are my own