Top 20 Tips for a Successful Zoo Trip with a Toddler!
Order tickets ahead of time to avoid the lines upon arrival! (Tickets also tend to be cheaper when you order them online ahead of time.)
Pay for parking online ahead of time if you can!
Print out both the admission tickets & parking passes and have them handy.
Arrive about 15-20 minutes before the zoo opens so you can be one of the first people there. The goal is to avoid lines or any wait at all costs (this is crucial when you are with a toddler).
Plan your trip around naptime so your toddler can actually enjoy the trip. This is also why we like to get there as soon as the doors open.
Bring a stroller (you can also rent them but they can be costly.)
Pack snacks & drinks, that way you don’t end up spending too much on food (and you won’t have to stop what you’re doing or leave to get something to eat).
Give yourself enough time to organize your stroller and make sure you have everything.
Upon arrival, grab a map & pick out the most efficient and kid friendly trail that targets all of your must-see attractions.
Research activities at the Zoo beforehand (i.e find out if there are water activities or rides, etc.)
For water activities: pack swim trunks/suits, swim diapers, towels and swim shoes.
Check the weather before you go and dress appropriately (as my mother always says). Make sure you have umbrellas or ponchos.
Pack sunscreen and sun hats.
Bring hand sanitizers or wipes to clean their hands if you plan on doing any hands-on activities or going to a petting zoo area.
Bring a comfort toy, like a favorite stuffed animal or a blankie. These zoo animals are pretty large and can be a bit scary to the little ones, it was nice to have my sons favorite stuffed animal to make him feel extra comfortable.
Bring a change of clothes (especially if they are going to be doing water activities).
Don’t try and see everything, this can get overwhelming. Just make sure you have a few must-see things, and give yourself enough time to actually enjoy them.
Do the extras! Whenever we take our son on trips we always plan on doing the extra things like paying for the pony rides (or any rides really), and spoiling our son with a souvenir, or attending shows if they have any going on!
Hype it up! Before we take trips like this we will talk about it with our son and put on shows for him that relate. Asher is obsessed with Sesame Street so the episodes he saw got him excited. We also have him re-watch the episodes and talk about them for the learning experience.
Bring a camera, a tripod stand, a self-timer and an empty SD card (all would be nice but not a necessity. When we go on trips like this we like to pack these things so we can independently take family pictures and not have to stop people and ask.)
These tips have really helped us get the most out of our trip to the Philadelphia Zoo! Asher is going to be 2 next month (his admission was free since he is under 2 years old, that was also nice). Since he is so young it was CRUCIAL to plan things first thing in the morning. We did this so he could get the most out of the trip and so that it would not interfere with his nap time. The other reason I am so adamant about being there right as the doors open is because of the lines and waiting periods! My toddler is always in a rush to do things and is always yelling “I READY!!” haha. He just doesn’t have the patience yet needed to wait in lines because he doesn’t understand them, (he will also yell “I READY!!” when we are stopped at traffic lights lol). I hope you guys have found this helpful, if you follow these tips I can assure you that you’ll make the best out of your trip!
For our trip, we got there right as it opened. We packed up our stroller with our snacks, camera/equipment, diaper bag and were good to go! We had paid for parking a couple of days prior and already had our tickets paid for and handy. When we got there the lines were practically nonexistent since it was so early. We just went through the bag check quickly and then scanned our ticket and were good to go! Between arriving at the garage, packing up our stroller, getting through bag-check and admissions, it was less than 15 min, if that! It was perfect because we got to minimize all of the boring stuff for him.
The next thing we did was grab a map to find our MUST SEE attractions and to find the best trail so that we could do that in the most efficient way. On the way we saw that there were pony rides available that we could pay for, I was SUPER excited about that. Asher has a little rocking horse that he loves so much so I thought he would have been thrilled…. He was terrified though HAHAHA, poor thing. I think he would have enjoyed it if they let us come with him. They said it could only be the employees with him, he is so young so that was just not going to happen. Then we asked if we could send his favorite toy, Agape, with him but they said no it might startle the pony ( how rude. Agape had a bath right before that trip I’ll have you know LOL). So that was a fail, but he enjoyed watching them nonetheless.
Asher had such an awesome time at the zoo. He was just so amazed at all of the animals. He was watching the monkeys in the stainless-steel mesh tunnels above us with such excitement and wonderment. He is obsessed with penguins so he was really happy to see them. There was a polar bear as well which he loved because he has this new obsession with water (not really new, it’s been going on for a few months now.) He also got to see the lions which reminded him of our dogs haha.
Stephen’s favorite part of the trip was Asher’s reaction to the giraffe’s! Asher was so freaked out watching them eat the leaves off the tree with their huge black tongues! His face was that of confusion and amazement all at once haha, we were cracking up. My favorite part of the trip was him yelling “Wook, Wook” (instead of “look”) and pointing at things. I absolutely loved hearing him repeat the names of the animals and watching him learn. He practiced saying “Flamingo” 3 times and nailed it. He is absolutely precious. Also whenever he is trying to make new friends he offers to share his favorite stuffed animal, Agape. When we saw the Rhinos he kept trying to share Agape with them HAHA so cute omg. He was being so cute whenever we were going to take pictures; he kept giving me hugs and kisses. I know he was having so much fun, we were so happy to have been able to take him. He walked around the whole zoo and on the way out he saw some birds and loved chasing them.
We spent about a little over 4 hours there and headed out so he could take a nap. We honestly left at the perfect time because right as we made it back to the garage it started to rain!! (not that it would have mattered because I stocked up on ponchos from the Dolla Sto’!). I got us all matching plastic ponchos and was pretty excited about them, but I am also glad we got to just enjoy being outdoors and not getting wet.