There are a lot of things I look forward to during the summer. Number one is definitely more time with my family. During the school year, everyone is so busy and we are very constricted by schedules, holidays, and pretty much just life. The summer offers us more freedom to explore, play, and get messy. I love it. One of our absolute favorite summer activities is going to the zoo. If you think the zoo is just about seeing animals, you need to check it out again. We go at least a couple of times a week. I’m not an animal lover by any means, but there is just something about visiting the majestic creatures there. It is incredible and entertaining. However, there are so many other amazing activities, photo ops, and general fun to be had at the zoo outside of the animals! The best part is that most zoo passes aren’t very expensive. That is why a zoo pass is the best summer family investment.
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1. Free Shows and Concerts
Zoos often have free shows and concerts throughout the year. The Cincinnati Zoo has Tunes and Blooms every week in April which is weekly, after hours free concert. We’ve also been to other shows during the year that were 100% free and family friendly. A few years ago we attended a fun Avenger’s show that our oldest son absolutely loved!
2. There are Tons of Photo Ops
There are countless places for amazing photo opportunities. Some of them the kids love so much that you can look back at all of the photos later and watch them grow up. It is incredibly special and a wonderful keepsake to create. Last year, we even received a FREE professional (and printed) family photo for member’s appreciation night!
3. Member’s Appreciation
Most zoos offer some sort of member appreciation. At the Cincinnati Zoo they have a specific night dedicated to it. There are tons of perks including the photo mentioned above. You also receive amazing discounts on face painting, food, and more. Plus some fun freebies and activities are included on top of the regular zoo activities.
4. Rides and Playgrounds
There are also rides and play areas in the zoo. Kids will always enjoy the train, the merry-go-round, and the playground. Some zoos, like ours, even offer 3D theaters!
5. Learning Opportunities
As you would imagine, the zoo is packed with learning opportunities. There are interactive animal centers and fun facts plastered everywhere. You can learn about more than just animals at the zoo, too. For example, our zoo had a real food garden for a few years that was a lot of fun for the kids.
6. Animal Encounters
From special animal encounters set up throughout the zoo where kids can actually get up close and pet the animals to the regularly scheduled ones, there are lots of ways to engage with the animals. We have pet snakes, alligators, penguins, and more. We have fed and brushed goats. These are wonderful experiences that your kids will cherish as they grow.
7. Special Events
Zoos also hold special events around holidays. At Easter, kids can stop by stations placed throughout the zoo and receive treats as well as get their picture taken with the Easter Bunny. In October there is trick-or-treat every weekend. Also, the zoo is open year-round. In the winter, our zoo has the Festival of Lights which is fun and gorgeous. We have met Mr. and Mrs. Gingerbread and sipped on free cocoa while enjoying the beautiful lights all over.
8. Save on Food
Another important thing to point out is that you save even more by choosing the zoo because you can bring in your own food. We always pack lunch, snacks, and drinks so we are set for the whole trip. Another little tip for you is to bring some sort of small treat, like a sucker, because if you walk by some ice cream or cotton candy but aren’t going to buy any, you can pull out the surprise treat. Your kids will love it!
Again, all of this is included with a zoo pass which is good for 12 months from the date you get it. We pay a little less than $200 for our season pass which gets in 2 named adults, plus 2 adult guests, and up to 8 children each visit. It also covers our parking which can run around $9 a visit. Compared with theme parks, aquariums, and museums this is an incredible deal. A couple hundred dollars for a year’s worth of fun, activities, and family memories? Absolutely worth it. Looking for other summer ideas? Check out our summer page!
In case you’re wondering, I have not been compensated in any way for this post. My family just truly enjoys visiting the zoo as much as possible. We go all year long and the benefits have been innumerable. I want to help you make the most of your money and time which I feel a zoo pass absolutely does.
I’m a nerdy, crafty mom of three adorable little kids. I love writing and creating, but in my non-existent free time I also love karaoke, taking my kids to the zoo, and reading. I got my degree in Science (no idea how that happened) but I took every English class I could get my hands on because, yeah, I’m that girl.