Monday, February 7, 2011

winter at the maryland zoo

There were lots of great 'indoor' events happening over the weekend in Charm City, but our cabin fever was at an all-time high and we felt like getting OUT. So we headed over to The Maryland Zoo for a winter jaunt with the animals. Truthfully, the 44 degree weather felt downright balmy.

{{side note: has anyone else noticed their tolerance level for cold weather increase as their kids get older? Before the Bug, I wouldn't have walked 10 feet outside in cold weather... That's what cars and cabs are for, right? Now, I embrace cold weather. It takes a blizzard to keep us off the playground. Forty degrees is the new spring.}}

Zoo excursions may seem like an activity to place in the 'warm weather' category, but we had a ball. Short lines, up close encounters with the animals, and a choo-choo (aka tram) ride made for a fabulous toddler-friendly adventure.

A few things to note:
  • We typically walk the path from the entry gate to the exhibit entrances, but the Zoo requires everyone to ride the tram to the exhibit entrance during winter hours.
  • Several of the Bug's favorite animals were not outside because their exhibits were closed during the season (i.e. the turtles and the elephants). That said, the penguins were particularly active and the chimpanzee house was a GREAT place to warm up!
  • The zoo has a new concessions partner and a tented, indoor eating space. The only concessions stand open during the winter is the one right by the carousel.
  • Bundle up - - but layer. A few hills with the stroller and you'll want to shed the sub-zero coat.
  • Winter weather and melting snow equals lots of puddles. I was never so happy we were all wearing our boots.
  • Trams ARE stroller-accessible, and zoo staff are very helpful when it comes to getting your stroller on and off the tram.
  • The zoo staff was amazingly friendly and you get a lot of attention when there aren't so many crowds. We spoke with several of the volunteers and keepers while we were there - - a real treat.
  • Before you go, check the zoo website for any advisories. Extremely helpful! For example, parking lot A was closed today and we had to park in lot C. We didn't even know lot C existed - - but because we checked the advisories, at least knew to look for it.
The Maryland Zoo is open this February Fridays through Mondays, from 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM. I would highly suggest you make it a morning adventure, as the Meeting Barn (where you can REALLY get up close and personal with the animals!) is only open until 1:00 PM during the winter months. Through the end of February, ticket prices are reduced. Adult admission is $8.00, children ages 2-11 $5.50 and seniors $6.50. Children under 2 and members are always free! Regular hours and admission prices resume in March.

What are your favorite "warm weather" activities to do during winter?