One day, not long after The Bug came into our lives, my wife told me, “I want to get a zoo membership!” And just like that, we’ve been members at the Cincinnati Zoo for six years now. It is literally our favorite place to go and I am fairly certain I can walk it blindfolded.
When The Bug was just a baby, we took her and by far her favorite animal was the waterfalls. Seriously. It didn’t matter what animal we saw, it was no big deal for her. But when we passed a waterfall, she just wanted to watch it for the longest time. As she got older and realized the animals were pretty cool, the giraffes quickly became her favorite. She had a giraffe shirt she would wear for zoo visits and had about 5 or 6 six toy giraffes to play with.
Something happened in the last year or so. Now, she has to go to the Reptile House as soon as we get there. Most kids aren’t sure if they want to pet the snakes the handlers have around the park. Not The Bug. She strokes them like old friends and would happily wear one if she found the right handler to let her do it. She also loves the Insect House and gets excited when I’m with her. Cause Mommy won’t go in there. Something about tarantulas. (Why are there spiders in the insect house? I’m still not sure.)
We kicked off summer with a visit to the zoo Memorial Day morning. The Bug was so excited to go, she was up early and helping to get breakfast ready, all in the attempt to get out the door on time. We dressed patriotically and were able to walk through the gates before the heat was oppressive. The Bug couldn’t decide where to go next. Had we followed her plan, we would have bopped from one side of the zoo to the next. As it was, we attempted a circuitous route around the zoo and almost saw it all (including the Cheetah Run) in about 4 hours. Then it was time to go home and rest up before Memorial Day dinner.
Here are some pro tips if you want to visit the Cincinnati Zoo.
- Get a membership. Obviously, this only helps you if you live locally, but everything is covered. Admission, parking, and the train and carousel. Boom! No hassle. No worries. And, members get in earlier than the commoners AND get a discount on food and souvenirs.
- Get there early. The crowds haven’t formed yet. The animals are active. The heat hasn’t kicked in yet. Early is good. This is a great tip for Festival of Lights too. Get there in the late afternoon and you can see animals before it gets dark. And when it gets dark you’ll already be there and not have to wait in crazy lines to get in the zoo!
- Bring your lunch. We don’t like spending a lot of money on food if we don’t have to, so we always pack a lunch. The zoo allows outside food so I always have a backpack full of food with me.
- Use a backpack carrier instead of a stroller or wagon. When The Bug was little, I loved to carry her in the backpack carrier. She could see what I could see and there was no awkward in and out of the stroller moments. My hands were free, and we could talk. Now, of course, she walks for a couple hours then I carry her on my shoulders.
- Sneak some money for Dippin’ Dots when your wife isn’t looking. Seriously. We all know that Mommy is #1. Handing your kid a bowl of the ice cream of the future is a sure-fire way to buy her love. (And members don’t have to freak about the price. It’s cheaper for you!)
We love the Cincinnati Zoo and hope that you can love it too!