One of the things we wanted to do for a long time with our kids was a trip to the Bronx Zoo in New York. We finally we had a free weekend with a great weather forecast, and we drove down to the Bronx. This is such a fun place to go as a family, and I highly recommend it if you can go!
Photo: my daughter getting up close and personal with a woodchuck!
We spent a whole day at the park, so here are our tips for getting the most out of your visit. Having a plan means you can take advantage of as many things as you can.
Buy the Total Experience Tickets (online)
If you are spending a full day, splurge on the Total Experience Tickets, which gets you into 8 attractions at the Bronx Zoo, including the monorail and children’s zoo. It absolutely made sense to us to spend the extra and be able to fully experience the zoo. We thoroughly enjoyed all eight of the extra attractions. Plus, if you have kids, the children’s zoo was a big part of the trip, from cute animals to interactive exhibits (like tunneling around the prairie dogs)!
We also got 10% off by booking online, which is worth saving for our family of four. (Also keep in mind you have to print the tickets, as we reserved our tickets from our hotel and had to scramble to find a way to print the tickets!)
Plan on spending a full day there, and prioritize
The day we went to the Bronx Zoo, it was open from 10am-5pm. We go there right when the park opened, and spent every minute exploring the park. It was a long day, but definitely worth it. There is a lot of ground to cover, and we did miss a few small things even though we tried to not spend too much time at any exhibit. There were many exhibits that we went through very quickly, such as walking by the primates. If we had spent a lot of time at each exhibit, we would not have had time to make it through the whole zoo.
If there are specific exhibits you want to see most, plan on going to those first, as you may not have time to see everything, as it is very possible you may run out of time to see everything.
And keep in mind the events at the zoo, scheduling your day around your top picks.
Use the monorail first
The Bronx Zoo staff actually suggested going on the monorail first. It gets very busy – and is possibly one of the biggest attractions. When we arrived at the park at 10am, we headed right to the monorail. By the time we made it (to the opposite end of the park!), there was a significant line, and we barely made it on the second monorail of the day. This ride takes you through lots of great exhibits, like rhinos, lions, antelope, and much more. I went to the Bronx Zoo when I was a little girl, and it is one of the few memories I have of my visit! The kids loved it!
The Bronx Zoo does have a decent selection of food, but I always advocate bringing your own food, when a place allows.
It will be cheaper, you won’t waste time waiting in lines, and you’ll probably eat healthier. Although I like to dine out, I also don’t like to eat junk food when I travel, because I want to feel good and get the most out of my trip. I always pack water and some healthy options, and fruit and other healthy snacks for the kids. If you can fit it, bring a whole lunch to save on money and time.
Dress comfortably, bring or rent strollers for younger kids
You will be doing a lot of walking! There are some shuttles, but in the interest of time, we ended up doing lots of walking. Definitely plan on using a stroller for smaller kids, which you can bring or rent at the zoo. When we traveled with our baby and toddler, we had a good sit and stand stroller for the kids, which made life easier.
Dress comfortably and make sure everyone has comfortable shoes. We spent much of the 7+ hours there on our feet!
Enjoy some souvenirs
There are many gift shops and kiosks around the park, so be prepared for the possibility of lots of begging, as there is a lot of cute stuff for sale. We came up with a dollar amount the kids could spend at the gift shop and let them pick out something towards the end of the visit, contingent on good behavior. It was a nice treat and they were very grateful to have a souvenir from such a special trip to the zoo. There was a good selection of items, from small, more inexpensive stuffed animals, to large items and clothing.
And of course, bring your camera!
There are so many great attractions at the zoo. Bring your camera to catch those special moments!