I purchased the annual member because I live nearby, I save money, and it’s educational for my kids. Exploring the zoo on my own was a bit scary and I had to mentally prepare myself for this adventure. But with these helpful tips, I am rocking my trips to the zoo like a pro!
- If you don’t have an annual membership, buy your tickets online! Do you have AAA? Members get 10% adult/child tickets when you present your membership card at the counter or online via a code you receive when you log into your AAA account.
- I get there for opening (10am) so there aren’t many people there right away (unless you go during the holidays so be prepared)
- Enter and exit from the side of Zoo Dr. near the dumpsters and sign Kangaroo to avoid entering traffic and waiting 10 more minutes and that means 10 less minutes of tantrums!
- Close encounters: Starting at 10:30am, zookeepers will be available to talk about the animals and you can learn some awesome facts that might not be available on the displays. Feed the giraffes from 11am-1pm and 2-4pm for $5 (cash)! Kids love it and you can score some awesome photo ops! Also, Muriel’s Ranch has a petting zoo so you can go and brush and touch the goats (free)! Sometimes there are freebies involved like an Elephant coloring book!
- There’s an awesome playground in the back right corner of the zoo! It’s a trek but once there, it probably will be lunch time. There is plenty of shade so perfect for the hot days. You can bring your lunch and eat on the picnic tables or lay out on the grass.
- There is a mist pad on hot days that your kiddos (and you) can run around to feel refreshed.
- There are these pentagon-shaped areas (with animals) scattered around that are perfect to let your toddlers run around so you don’t lose them.
- Another spot to roam free is the Lair where all the snakes, turtles, and lizards are housed. My kids loved running around! It is also a nice place to visit when you want to be out of the sun.
- Fork on the Road (restaurant near carousel) will cut your pizza into two slices so you don’t have to buy one large pizza for a child who will only nibble on it. But you know you will be eyeing a slice (win win). And I’m not sure if it is because I am hungry by the time we are back down but I find that pizza delicious! You are allowed to bring your own food so I suggest snacks and a lot of water!
- There is a Dippin Dots cart (near Fork in the Road) that will give you small Dixie cups to divide up one packet so you can have your littles share one!
- The carousel charges an additional fee to ride so bring your money ($3 per kid, adults free with a child 42 inches or shorter)
- Purchase tix for the tram ride at Fork in the Road or the Dippin Dots cart ($5 for adults, $2.50 children and $2 seniors)
- Purchase their souvenir cup for $6.99 and you can get unlimited refills for $1.09. It is worth it as an annual member.
Online tickets: yes, $21, children 2-12 ($16) It adds up so sometimes it might be better to get an annual membership if you live in the area and you get discounts on food and merchandise. Its $146 but there are so many promotions available that you can save $20!
Discounts: Military $3, and $2 off children, or group rate for over 15 people
ATM available: yes! But always carry some cash
What to pack: stroller, snacks, water, extra clothes, sunscreen, hat or sunglasses, hand sanitizer. If you want to rent a stroller they are $10 for a single, and $14 for a double located next door to Reggie the Crocodile
Bathroom accessibility for my toddlers: Yes, there are multiple bathrooms located in each area. The only downside is that the changing tables are located in inconvenient spaces in the restroom. So when it is crowded you have to deal with tight spaces and trying to quickly change a baby. But every section has a restroom for your potty training toddler.
Breastfeeding location: If you want some privacy, there are definitely locations spread out in the zoo to breastfeed. There are benches everywhere!
Beyond the cages: I’m all about making every trip educational! No effort is needed to make the zoo educational, but if you want to take their excitement home (and free), just grab extra zoo maps! My kids love to circle their favorite animals, or re-create the zoo with their legos or magna-tiles, so they copy the map. Reading a map is a good skill to teach anyways!
Not so close to LA Zoo? I hear wonderful things about the Santa Barbara and Santa Ana Zoo! I hope to go and explore soon!