First I just want to say hi to all the Travels with Children readers! Our recent trip to Texas was filled with Adventures and I’m thrilled to share a few of them with you. Thanks Minnemom!
I grew up going to the Fort Worth Zoo, back when the animals were crammed into tiny cages and no one thought there was anything wrong with that. Now, the 99-year-old Fort Worth Zoo is considered one of the top zoos in the country. I have to agree. The habitats are large and beautiful, the paths are wide and the education program is extensive.
Besides all the usual zoo features–hippos, zebras, giraffes (including a new baby!), a primate house, herpetarium, and big cats–the Fort Worth Zoo also has an area called Texas Wild! with animals native to the region and a replica of an old Texas town. It would be a nice addition to a homeschooling section on Texas or natural history. There are plenty of interactive features at many of the exhibits, especially at the herpetarium. Kids gets to guess which snakes are venmous and which are non-venomous. It’s a feature I fondly remember from childhood and was happy to see they’ve kept.
The highlight of the zoo for us was The Bird House. It’s a big aviary filled with day-glow blue, green and yellow cockatiels and parakeets. For $1 you can purchase little popcicle stick that’s been dipped in nectar and rolled in birdseed. My toddler absolutely loved hand feeding the birds and so close to the action. Be forewarned that the aviary is closed in the winter months.
There’s also an old fashioned carousel and 2 trains. The Yellow Rose express runs back and forth from the north end to the south end of the zoo with stops along the way. You can get a ticket for the carousel and a one-way on the train (in case your kids poop out at the far end and you need the quickest way back to the entrance) for $2. The Forrest Park Mini-Train is a much longer ride (45 minutes) and circles the outside of the zoo and botanical gardens. It’s a blast.
In general: The zoo boasts being open 365 days a year (10am-5pm). We went in January and it was both lovely weather and we had the entire park to ourselves. When we went again in April the place was packed with school kids on field trips. It was still a wonderful visit just a little more difficult to keep up with a roaming toddler in the sea of people. You can get detailed admission info and driving direction atwww.fortworthzoo.com. The quick breakdown is that adults are $10.50, kids 3-12 are $8 and 2 and under are free but if you purchase tickets in advance from any Albertson’s grocery store you can get $1 off each ticket. If your child is stroller age, bring your own. I didn’t like the strollers and thought the rentals were expensive at $7 a pop for a single and $9 for a double. Eateries include Pizza Hut, Dickey’s Barbeque, Ranch Grill, Grandy’s, an Ice Cream Parlor with Bluebell Ice Cream and a food court with Tex-Mex and Burger King. It’s hard to eat healthy here so if you’re info that, pack your own snacks and sack lunch. There are plenty of shady spots to picnic.