Moms' Review: The Philadelphia Zoo

5 great things to do here with kids

We don't need convincing that the Philadelphia Zoo's one of the area's premier family attractions. But we always love knowing what exactly appeals most about a given venue. Here, MomSpeaker Trina O'Boyle tells us five specific reasons she and her boys make the zoo a Philly must-do.

The first really nice spring day in the Philadelphia area was sunny and in the 60s, which made for an amazing day to head over to the Philadelphia Zoo. We were members for years, then let our membership go a few years ago. This Christmas our Nana gave us a new family membership as a gift, which I highly recommend. I think the best gifts are the ones filled with experiences, and the Philadelphia Zoo can give you amazing experiences throughout the year.

The Philadelphia Zoo has been around for over 150 years and is honored as America’s first zoo. The zoo sits on a 42-acre Victorian garden and is home to more than 1,300 animals, many of them rare and endangered. One thing I love about the Philadelphia Zoo is that it has prioritized education and wildlife conservation in its mission from day one.

Since we have a family membership we are able to head to the zoo at any point, so we didn’t feel that we needed to see everything in one day. The zoo is so big that if you were visiting the area and only had one day to see it, I suggest heading there bright and early in the morning. If you only have a short amount of time, here are my 5 must-see things at the Philadelphia Zoo.

1. Big Cat Crossing

This is a new addition to the zoo since were were members; it opened in spring of 2014. It’s part of the zoo360 exploration system. Big Cat Crossing features a 330-foot mesh pathway extending above the main visitor path from First Niagara Big Cat Falls. It allows the lions, pumas, tigers and jaguars to exercise their curiosity and roam. While we were there we were able to see the male, female and all four baby lion cubs walk around together…it was truly amazing.

2. KidZooU

This is also something new for us and I loved it for a number of reasons. First, it’s designed to meet LEED standards which creates a great environmental and sustainable education. KidsZooU is very interactive which makes it nice for the kids especially little ones that are active. The KidsZooU is a education center and wildlife academy that has indoor and outdoor exhibits suited for toddlers through teens. My boys loved the huge Ant, relaxed in the Tiny Tot Barn and were able to roam freely around with barnyard animals.  Your children can even do a fun Scavenger Hunt then once you’ve completed it you can enter to win a behind the scenes encounter with a zoo animal.

3. Rock ‘N’ Roar

These fun kids concerts take place throughout the summer and are suitable for all ages. Bring a blanket, your lunch and take a break to enjoy fun music with the kids. If you visit the zoo during the other seasons don’t worry . . . lots of other events keep you busy, even in the winter.

4. Zoo Balloon

The 6abc ZooBallon is unique to Philadelphia and can be enjoyed even when you are not at the zoo. I love driving along near the zoo and see it flying high. The original balloon flew high for over a decade but then suffered a lot of damage because of weather. Thankfully they were able to get a new balloon which will open for rides this spring.

5. Zoo Treehouse

If the weather is too hot, cold or rainy this is the place to be. The zoo’s Treehouse is just amazing and something different from other zoos. You are welcomed by a life-size rain forest tree then play in dinosaur and frog eggs plus experience gigantic honeycombs and butterflies.

Trina O'Boyle is a Drexel Hill, PA mom of two boys. This post is adapted from her blog O'Boy Organic.

Categories: MomSpeak