Tips for Visiting the Houston Zoo

Sometimes with a small baby or kids in tow, it’s difficult to get out of the house! I had spent several days in a row itching to go do something, so last weekend we loaded up the family and hit the road for the zoo! I had never been to the Houston Zoo before, and it was only about a 45 minute drive from us, so it wasn’t bad at all for a day trip. My husband Drew and I were both excited to take our daughter Isla for the first time as well. I know taking the whole gang out can be overwhelming sometimes, but I was pleasantly surprised at how much fun and how easy everything was! I would highly recommend it for something fun to do to get out of the house with kids.

Parking/ Buying Tickets

We got incredibly lucky to get a parking spot a couple rows from the front, but the parking situation was a beast! There were several cars circling looking for spots when we arrived. We got there at about 2pm, so I would recommend getting to the zoo earlier in the day if you’re not wanting to walk a long way! The Houston Zoo hours are 9 am – 7pm with their gates admitting the final guests entry at 6pm. (Check their site to confirm prior to your visit!) You can also park at Hermann Park for free which is nice. Once you get to the front, the line for tickets is extremely long. That took quite a bit longer than expected actually, and I would recommend buying them online beforehand to save time if you can. We couldn’t do so because we purchased veterans tickets, so we needed to show our military ID in order to receive them. However, if you’re a servicemember the waiting in line is worth it for that discount!

Don’t let the weather scare you!

The day of our trip to the zoo it was grey and cloudy skies. We were nervous it would start raining on us, and it did. We immediately went into new parent freak out mode, and ran to the gift shop and bought ponchos and an umbrella to make sure Isla didn’t get wet. (She got wet anyway). It was my first visit, so I’m cutting myself a little slack for this, but in hindsight we totally could’ve just gone to one of the indoor exhibits and waited out the rain. The monkeys, the aquarium, and the reptiles are all indoors and under cover. You could also grab a snack at the cafe, or eat pre-made food you brought with you if the weather starts getting bad. Oh well! I learned better for next time. The fact that it rained was actually a huge positive because it stayed COOL. If you’re familiar at all with Houston, you know the heat is brutal this time of year! So if you see a cloudy day coming on your weather app, consider planning your zoo outing for that day!

Bring snacks & water!

I like to think of myself as a frugal lady, (I’m still thinking about the $5.99 I spent on that dang poncho I wore for 10 minutes!) and like any park the zoo food prices are bound to be higher. We luckily had the foresight to bring water with us in the diaper bag, but were not so thoughtful when it came to snacks and food. Although there are quite a bit of options inside, we certainly would’ve saved money if we had packed our own. An awesome thing about the Houston Zoo is that you can bring in outside food and drink, so come prepared, especially if you’re bringing kiddos along!

Plan ahead for any animal encounters you would like to do

Everyday there is a daily schedule at the zoo of different events with the animals. The one I was particularly excited for was the giraffe feeding that happens every day at 11 am and 2pm. In order to feed the giraffes you could pay $7 for three leaves of lettuce and then wait your turn to feed them. (Forget what I said about frugal, that sounded awesome! 😉) Unfortunately, this is weather dependent so we didn’t get a chance to participate in that, but on a normal day these timelines are important to keep in mind so you get a chance to do everything you’d like to do. I didn’t know it at the time, but after looking online after our visit I found out you can reserve behind the scenes encounters! These are quite pricey, but would be worth it if you had an animal lover on your hands! The Houston Zoo website states that a portion of these proceeds go towards protecting the animals in the wild, so if you decide to partake, you can feel good that your money is going to a good cause. Check out their website for more info.

We had such a good time on our visit to the Houston Zoo, and will definitely be back again before too long. We vlogged the experience over on our YouTube channel, if you’d like to take a further look into what we experience there. Let me know in the comments below if you’ve been to the Houston Zoo, or are planning a trip there! I want to hear how your experiences went.

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