Travels with Children

The adventures I embark upon with my four young children.

Minnesota Zoo

Minnesota Zoo

  • Minnesota Zoo
    13000 Zoo Boulevard
    Apple Valley, MN 55124
    phone: 952.431.9200
  • $14 adults, $9 seniors, $8 ages 3-12, Free for ages 0-2.  IMAX theater available at additional cost.
  • Participates in AZA Reciprocity.
  • Stroller accessible.  Food available.  Restrooms with changing tables in several locations.

We had a great day at the Minnesota Zoo.  Since our last visit a year ago, there were three new areas to explore:  The Minnesota Trail, the butterfly garden, and Russia’s Grizzly Coast.  These attractions, in addition to the existing zoo exhibits, made for a fun day at the zoo.

At first, I wasn’t sure tackling the zoo alone with four kids was such a good idea.  The new Russia’s Grizzly Coast exhibit is full of twists and turns and appears to be very popular, judging by the tangle of strollers in the area.  The kids were excited to see a bear and a sea otter, however. 

Once we got through the Grizzly Coast mess, the foot traffic thinned out considerably on the wider paths.  We saw a tiger and several takins, as well as bison and camels and prairie dogs, before getting to the play area.  After a rest/play break, we continued on to the Family Farm area.  While we waited for the wagon to arrive, the kids played in the “grain elevator.” 

The Family Farm is great for kids who love animals.  My boys can’t wait to pet and comb the goats and see the other animals.  My girls, however, were terrified of most of the animals, although they did think the 3-day-old piglets were cute.

When we returned to the play area with its nearby picnic grounds, I realized that the snacks I had packed were safely stowed in the car.  Instead of traipsing halfway through the zoo and out to the parking lot, I opted for pizza and a sandwich for us to share.  I was pleasantly surprised that the food prices weren’t outrageous, so we got a decent lunch and refilled our water bottles, which I had remembered to bring in.

Then we were off to the bird show, where the highlight for all of us was the bald eagle.  After that, we rode the monorail and walked through the Tropics Trail and Minnesota Trail and saw the fish in the aquarium before seeing the dolphin show.

Altogether, we were at the zoo for six hours and we were all exhausted by the end of the day.

If you go to the Minnesota Zoo, I have these tips:

  • Wear good walking shoes.  There’s a lot of ground to cover.
  • If you have a child of questionable walking ability or stamina, bring the stroller.  My three youngest (ages 5, 4, and 2) alternated between the seats in the double stroller.
  • Wear a hat and sunscreen.  You won’t regret it!
  • Bring refillable water bottles.  There are lots of water fountains around the zoo where you can refill them.
  • There are restrooms in many locations, but if you have a stroller, avoid the ones in the main building.  It’s much easier to navigate some of the others.  There’s a family restroom with changing table at the back of the granary in the Family Farm area.  (There are also family restrooms in a hallway in the middle of the granary, but they don’t have changing tables.)
  • If you want to avoid the heat of the day, walk around the outdoor exhibits in the morning and then do the indoor trails, aquarium, and monorail in the afternoon.

See also:  A previous trip to the Minnesota Zoo


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