Road Trip: Houston Zoo

Our Spring Break Road Trip is already seeming like a distant memory, but I’m so glad we did it. It was the first time it was just my son and I on a trip, so I was a little nervous. We managed to pack more in four days than might have been necessary (thanks to my purchase of CityPasses for us both, since I always love a deal!), but it gave us a great chance to experience a few things which Houston has to offer, and to give us a reason to head back again.

For those of you looking for a quick road trip this spring, though, you could actually head to Houston for a day trip, or make it more relaxed and drive there for a weekend. Whatever way you do it, Houston is a fun place to visit. When I was trying to plan our trip, I consulted FOLM (Friend of LiveMom) and travel blogger Rebecca from R We There Yet Mom? and Round the Rock, and as usual, she was a great resource for family-friendly out of town fun.

Our first day, we visited the Children’s Museum of Houston. On the second, we headed to the Space Center Houston. Day three was the Houston Museum of Natural Science and our final day was the Houston Zoo. Although I was a little worn out by day four, I knew my son, the animal lover, would really enjoy the Zoo. Another bonus was that the chilly and rainy weather during the start of our trip was finally over, and we were rewarded with a sunny day for our final hurrah in Houston.

We arrived at our destination about a half and hour after opening time, after dragging my son away from the Fantasy Kids’ Suite at the Omni and checking out. The Zoo is located conveniently close to the Museum of Natural Science in the Museum District, and it was nice that this was our only destination during our trip which didn’t charge for parking.

One of the reasons I had the idea for the Houston road trip in the first place was that I had read that there was a baby giraffe at the Zoo. One definite benefit of visiting a zoo this time of year is that there are usually baby animals of some kind, and who doesn’t love baby animals?

The Aquatic Animals exhibit has a cool tube kids can crawl through. We also spent a lot of time observing the meerkats.
The Aquatic Animals exhibit has a cool tube kids can crawl through. We also spent a lot of time observing the meerkats.

We parked, applied our sunscreen, packed our bag (we had snacks, but we could have brought in our own lunch), hit the restrooms on the way in and picked up our map to check out the lay of the land. I noticed there was an Elephant Bath scheduled soon, so we headed on over while checking out some exhibits along the way.

Baby elephant...squee! Another cool interactive feature was the tube where kids can pop their heads up in the banded mongoose exhibit.
Baby elephant…squee! Another cool interactive feature was the tube where kids can pop their heads up in the banded mongoose exhibit.

We spent a lot of time at the meerkat exhibit, as my son wanted to take some photos for a classmate, but we were able to make it to oogle over the baby elephant who was just over a month old. We must have missed the bath, so we headed to see the fruit bat feeding, which was essentially a Zoo staffer there, answering questions about the bats. I was glad we made it over to the Children’s Zoo, though, since my son enjoyed popping his head up to get a better view of the banded mongoose. I could see younger children really enjoying this area, even though my 8-year-old was quite content there as well.Houston Zoo giraffesFrom there, we headed over to buy tickets for the 11am giraffe feeding. We were about 10 minutes early, but a line had already formed, and it looked like the feeding had already begun. My guess is that you could arrive even earlier if you want to spend less time waiting in line. We had fed the giraffes at the Dallas Zoo, and it was a similar drill — you pay at a kiosk and then stand in line for your turn to spend a minute or two up close and personal with a giraffe. As the staffers will tell you, you definitely need to have your cameras ready, since it goes by quickly.

Since we were right next to the Twiga Cafe, we had an early lunch there on the outdoor patio so we could watch the giraffes get their greens from the other folks lined up to feed them. The food was very typical – I had a chicken sandwich, which was edible, but nothing special, and my son had a corn dog.Advertisement

The daily schedule is posted in several places around the Zoo, as well as being accessible via the Zoo's mobile app.
The daily schedule is posted in several places around the Zoo, as well as being accessible via the Zoo’s mobile app.

We consulted the map and the daily schedule (which you can also access via the Zoo’s mobile app) to decide what to do next. We wanted to head out of town at 3pm or so, because I wanted to visit a friend in Tomball on the way back home, and get home at a decent hour since we had a few more days of Spring Break fun after our road trip. We decided to go to the Zoo Keeper Talk at the Chimpanzees and then to learn a little about big cats. We hit most of the exhibits in between. We wrapped up our visit at the Petting Zoo, although by this time the Children’s Zoo was pretty crowded, so we didn’t last long in there.

This cat loved getting a milk treat sprayed right in its mouth by the zookeeper. We enjoyed the Chimpanzee talk and also enjoyed exploring the other exhibits in the Zoo at our own pace.
This cat loved getting a milk treat sprayed right in its mouth by the zookeeper. We enjoyed the Chimpanzee talk and also enjoyed exploring the other exhibits in the Zoo at our own pace.

On our way out, we stopped for a moment before our obligatory trip to the gift shop, when we noticed a bunny munching on some of the Zoo’s landscaping. I guess the local fauna enjoy the Zoo, too! My son made a beeline to the car, since we had done plenty of walking and he was done, but I stopped for a moment to take in the beautiful setting on the way out to the car. Hermann Park, with its train and nice pond, would be a lovely place to spend an afternoon. I did notice on our way out that there was quite the traffic pileup to take advantage of the free parking at the Park on such a nice day, so that would definitely be something to keep in mind if you didn’t make it to the Zoo until the afternoon.

Even the Houston bunnies like visiting the Zoo. Hermann Park would be a nice spot for a picnic.
Even the Houston bunnies like visiting the Zoo. Hermann Park would be a nice spot for a picnic.

It was certainly nice to sleep in our own beds that night, but we had a blast in Houston. I still think that the Children’s Museum might have been the overall favorite among the four spots we visited, but the Zoo was probably a close second. I’m already looking forward to heading back again to see the things we couldn’t fit into our trip!

What’s your favorite thing to do in Houston? What’s your favorite part of the Zoo?

 

Disclosure: The Omni provided my son and I with a reduced rate to stay at their Houston Galleria Hotel. LiveMom will not receive compensation for any mention of our stay and any opinions expressed about our road trip are my own.

About Nicole Basham 793 Articles
A native Austinite and soccer-playing mom, Nicole uses her 10-year-old son as an excuse to rediscover her hometown through his eyes. In Thoreau's words, her mission is to "suck out all the marrow of life", or in her son's words, to cultivate in him a love of "advenchers".

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