June 8, 2012 by Gina
I am loving adventure Fridays – I’m learning about some great places and being reminded of places I’ve been meaning to take the kids and just haven’t yet. This Friday brings us to familiar place…the Minnesota Zoo. We bought a membership with Finn’s birthday money last year and just renewed our membership last week. Melissa’s family also just bought a membership and she can bring a guest (Carin was the lucky recipient this week) so we packed up the six kids and headed to the zoo on Tuesday. It was a bright, sunny 85 degree day and the zoo was packed with school groups. But we had a great time and the kids loved all the animals!
We started our trip with the penguins which are a new addition to the zoo in 2011 and they are a big hit with kids and adults. It’s so much fun to watch them waddle around and see all the kids waddling like penguins. Then they dive and swim gracefully through the water with ease. After grabbing a coffee (because I REALLY needed it today), we headed to the Tropics Trail – bats, gibbons, tortoises, komodo dragons, flamingos, tree kangaroos, birds and a coral reef. So much to see! Myles loved all of the fish and we watched part of the coral reef show while a diver talked to us and fed the many fish and sharks.
One of my favorite attractions at the zoo is the Minnesota Trail which showcases animals from…Minnesota! The last time I visited, the animals were extremely active. We weren’t as lucky today but we still saw the porcupine, racoons, fisher, a coyote, a wolverine, some turkeys, the bald eagle, puma and lynx. Most of the animals were catching their morning nap (it was unseasonably warm this morning) so even the wolverine looked peaceful (a difficult achievement).
After lunch, which we packed from home, we headed outside to the Northern Trail. The Northern Trail includes grizzly coast and highlights three brown bears, sea otters, leapords, tigers, takins, bison, prairie dogs, antelope, wild asian horses, bactrian (2 hump) camels and dholes (asian wild dogs). For the kids this is a great trail because they can run ahead without getting too far away and have some freedom to explore. Finn loves this part of the zoo, which ends in a playground with a conveniently located food stand. We ended our tour with the moose and the Discovery Bay (full of fish, sharks and the famous dolphins which will be leaving the zoo soon).
We barely scratched the surface on our adventure – there is just so much to see and every visit is different. The zoo also includes the Wells Fargo Family Farm which has farm babies every April, the dinosaurs which are on “exhibit” through September and the bird show which is a terrific show. The zoo also has a monorail which gives an entirely different perspective on the size of the zoo, the animals and is informative about the many conservation efforts the zoo is involved with.
If you live in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area and aren’t a member of the zoo, it is such a great deal! Three to four visits during the year and you’ve paid for the membership and it is a terrific winter activity too (household membership is $110 annually). We have really enjoyed our membership and the kids get so excited whenever we say we’re taking them to the zoo! If you don’t want to spring for the membership fees, find someone who is a member and has the “plus” option and can take guests for free. We had this option last year, but just got the household membership this year. Kids under age three are free and our young infants (8 months and 2 x one year olds) loved it!
So, in rain or shine, head to the Minnesota Zoo – you won’t be disappointed!