Take the Kids to the Zoo

Summer is the perfect time to visit the lions, tigers, and bears!

By Tracy Leigh Ritts

 Many families enjoy planning day trips in the summer. They’re a great way to have a little fun, but still be able to come home at the end of the day and relax. One great destination that kids and adults always enjoy is the zoo. Besides having a terrific time, your kids will learn about animals and their habitats.

The Plan
Before you go, plan your day well! Unless you want to pay the high price of refreshments, bring along plenty of beverages and snacks. Many zoos offer picnic areas where you can leave your cooler so that it’s ready to go when lunchtime rolls around.

If you have young children who will not be able to walk the entire time but are too old for a stroller, bring a wagon, or rent one from the zoo. In addition, a wagon is the perfect way to cart around water bottles and snacks.

You’ll also want to talk to your children about their expectations. What do they think they’ll see there? What animals are they most excited about? Make note of their excitement and plan your day accordingly. Some other tips for your day at the zoo are:

Check out the zoo’s Website, or give them a call, and find out if they offer a free admission day. Many zoos’ have one day per week when local residents are admitted without charge. Take advantage of this, as admission costs for a family of four can be pricey, especially in the summer months.

If the Website has a map of the zoo, pay close attention to it. Plan your day before the day starts. Are they are any special exhibits or play areas for children? What about a petting zoo? Kids love to get up close with animals, so try to plan your route to encompass both viewing and participating.

The Essentials
In addition to snacks and beverages, bring sunscreen, hats, and depending on the age of your children, a change of clothes. If your kids are old enough to snap pictures, buy them each a disposable camera so they can photograph their day, their way.

Make sure the kids know the rules before you go. Explain to them that zoos are busy places and kids can get lost easily, so they should never run off. Teach them to respect the animals they will be viewing.

At the Zoo
Kids tire out fast, especially in the sun and heat. Plan for rest times at play areas or wildlife shows where the entire family can sit for awhile. You, and your kids, will last that much longer!

A trip to the zoo can be a lot of fun and a great learning experience for your entire family. By planning some of it ahead of time, and bringing essentials with you, you’ll not only save money – but also your stress level!

Tracy Leigh Ritts is a freelance writer based in Ohio. Her book on wedding planning will be available later this year.