Welcome to Travel Tips Tuesday! I'll share mine with you and you share yours with me. Tips, that is~Link up at the bottom.
The Fort Worth Zoo is my hometown zoo. Oh, the memories! My first visit was for a first grade field trip, and my “fondest” memory from that trip was when the giant Siberian tiger lifted his leg and unceremoniously relieved himself on one of my classmates. I can still see the moms from that trip whipping wipes and Kleenex out their purses while she stood there and cried big, fat tears. From there, I just kept making memories,especially as we added children to our family. Of course, we always keopt our distance from the tiger cage.
Through the years, I have been thrilled to see the Fort Worth Zoo make improvements and reinvent the space so that it is considered one of the top five zoos in the country. We’ve visited this zoo more times than I can count, and have certainly developed a routine to make the most of our time at with our favorite animals.
Expert Advice on Planning the Day at the Fort Worth Zoo
The Zoo opens at 10:00am 365 days a year, and no matter the season, we try to start our day when the zoo opens. If it’s slated to be a busy day, I am extra sure to be there early so that we can get a jump on the crowd. If we are early, we can make a pit stop, apply sunscreen, and be ready to hit the zoo in full force when the gates open. Note: Wednesday is half price day, so it is always the most crowded day. School field trips are also popular in the fall and spring. If you are concerned about crowds, you can always call ahead and ask how many groups are scheduled for the day.
When the gates open, we hightail it-well as much as you can hightail it while pushing a double stroller loaded down with two kids, a cooler, and a diaper bag-to the African Savannah. The World of Primates is the first exhibit you will pass as you enter the zoo, but only rookies stop there first. Towards the end of the day, this indoor exhibit will be much less crowded and more enjoyable. Be an expert and skip it for now.
The African Savannah is where you will find the elephants, rhinos, hippos, and giraffes. It’s also my favorite section of the zoo because it is a closed loop, so I can let me kids have a little freedom to roam without worrying that they will run off without me. If you do happen to have a kid go missing in here, they are probably climbing on the giant termite mounds. Kids can’t resist this exhibit, and it is a perfect place to grab a souvenir photo.
Next we head to Asian Falls, where it’s Lions, Tigers, and Bears-all together now-“Oh My!” The boardwalk to this area is the uphill part of the zoo, and if you are pushing a stroller, your calves will certainly feel the burn. Just when you think you can go any further, it’s about 100 more yards and then you are at the top. Your reward is usually the white tiger basking in the sun up close to the window where you can get a great view. Stay on the path and you will see all the “Oh My” animals, plus a few hoof stock thrown in for good measure.
Staying on the path, you’ll run right into Parrot Paradise, where one dollar will buy you a stick of bird food to share with the parrots. It’s important to get to Parrot Paradise early enough in the day that the birds aren’t overstuffed and uninterested. After feeding the birds, wash your hands, and then continue on the path through Raptor Canyon to the Australian Outback, where you will see kangaroos, and the animals of the Great Barrier Reef. Next, up is the Penguin exhibit where you can spend a few minutes listening to penguin sounds, but you won’t want to stay too long. Ahead you will see Texas Wild beckoning you like an oasis in the desert, and you will know that it is almost time to take a break.
Before you take your lunch break, you must meet your greatest challenge of the day-getting the kids past the train and the carousel without stopping. Don’t worry. We’ll get back to these later, but you want to beat the lunch crowd. Distract the kids with promises of petting a pony, and that’s not even a mommy lie! Just pass the carousel, you’ll want to stop at the petting zoo where you can pet the ponies and pigs, and brush the goats.
Lunchtime! Wash up and head across Texas Wild to the oh-so lovely and air conditioned Bluebonnet Cafe, where you will find Pizza Hut, Dickey’s BBQ, and other lunch favorites. We usually bring a packed lunch, and eat on the porch. With full bellies, we are free to explore Texas Wild. If the weather is extra warm, we’ll usually stop at the Playbarn or the Weather Theatre to see the film about wild Texas weather. The real jewel of Texas Wild is the animal exhibits that guide visitors through the ecosystems of Texas, presenting the flora and fauna of each region. Don’t miss the interactive exhibits that allow kids to touch the animals of the Gulf Coast and crawl through the bat caves of the Hill Country.
At this point in the day, we’ve spent several hours at the zoo and we are starting to feel it! Now, it’s time to be the hero and buy those tickets for a ride on the train. Not only is it a fun ride for little ones, but it also saves your feet from making the walk back to the front of the zoo. The trains run periodically, and depending on the timing, we have time for a ride on the carousel, as well.
The train is a short ride, and exits right next to the last two exhibits of the zoo. The timing is usually perfect, as late in the afternoon it can start to get warm, and these two exhibits are heavenly air conditioned. MOLA (Museum of Living Art) houses reptiles, turtles, and other creepy crawlies. Coming full circle, we are back at the House of Primates, which by this time is delightfully empty. That’s the last stop in a very full expertly planned day at the Fort Worth Zoo.