It’s cold outside. Your mood is blah. Kids are going crazy. Everyone is tired of being cooped up inside. Does this sound familiar? This is the time of the winter blues. Well, fear not, with a little preparation making the zoo your next destination will be the perfect cure to the too-much-energy-syndrome. Trust me, it’s worth the little bit of car time. Here are five reasons to visit the zoo in the winter. We love the not-so-distant Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines.
1. Your pocketbook will thank you.
Pick a day it’s not too chilly (I like to start with at least above freezing) and be sure to pack warm attire, even snow pants or boots if necessary. I’ve found there is some cost savings to take advantage off during the chillier months because, not all the exhibits are open. However, an INCREDIBLE amount still are. When I took my girls, the only major exhibits they didn’t get to see where the giraffes and the petting zoo.
2. You’ll have the place to yourself.
They day I took the girls was definitely still winter but, we picked a day that felt more mild compared to most. We practically had the entire zoo to ourselves. I kid you not, there were less than five other families there that day. This meant my toddler could run around a little (wear off the insane amount of energy) without worrying about losing her in the mob of people and other kids. She had the freedom to walk ahead of me or run back to see another animal again. We had the freedom to stay longer at certain exhibits and observe without feeling the pressure to move aside so other kids could see.
3. The animals were more engaged.
Without the blazing heat and the mobs of people, the animals were much more engaged. Most stayed right next to the fence line. With no lines of people or screaming kids they were calm and we got to see them more in their natural environment.
The indoor bird exhibit was truly like we were walking through their home. Normally, they are hiding or up high in the trees. This time we were side stepping them on the path or waiting patiently while they moseyed their way across, even ducking as some flew just over our heads. I’ll never forget getting to the seals and sea lions exhibit. On any other visit, we’ve gotten to see them swim around and that was about it.
I know it sounds cheesy, but this time was magical for my kids (and myself). For those that have never been there, they have an underground area where you can see them swimming. Inside this small area (which is normally so loud from the echoing you can barely hear yourself think) they have buttons you can push to hear a sample of the animals’ sound. We pushed one for a seal and the seals in the tank responded. Needless to say, we spent a while in that little area just listening to them communicate.
4. You may see something you would miss if you waited.
Fortunately, when we went a baby rhino had just been welcomed. It was a little chilly, so the exhibit was moved inside. We got to see something we would have missed had we waited until this summer. My oldest is very much in to mommies and babies since we just had our second not too terribly long ago and it was the highlight of her trip.
5. The overall ease of the trip was reason enough.
If you plan accordingly, the drive can be just long enough to get in a decent nap (provided you time it right and your kids nap in the car). I packed our cooler with lunch to save a few bucks. Although you can’t bring food inside the zoo, there are tables galore outside. We actually just folded down our back seats and ate in the car while my littlest finished her nap. Once we were inside we got to visit more with the staff who shared tidbits and interacted with my kids. We moved freely and at our own speed. Not mention, there was zero wait for bathrooms. It was a win-win, and exhausted my girls so much that I even got in a bonus nap on the way home.
So don’t stay cooped up any longer! Winter is here to stay for awhile and you and your kids could use fresh air on a mild day to kick the winter blues. Plan ahead (even purchase your tickets online to save some hassle), make it a play date with another friend and their kids and just go and have fun!