In many ways, a day at the zoo is a childhood rite of passage. We have come to love our family memories at the Houston Zoo, and through experience have come to find our favorite map paths, best bathroooms, and hidden play places that make our day at the zoo extra enjoyable.
Bring your own lunch
Start with the elephants
Now onto the full look and lists:
We decided to become Zoo Members two years ago. If you are traveling through Houston, this isn't worth it. But if you live anywhere in the Houston area, with littles, it's worth looking into. If you go more than once, it pays for itself. You get extra hours, and with different packages you can bring friends (which is a huge playdate perk in my opinion). For reference, we live about 90 min from the zoo, and go about 4-6 times a year. Zoo trips have become our go to for special days, birthday gifts, and out of town family/friend outings.
Currently adult tickets are $28, children tickets are $22 (2yra and under are free). So a day at the zoo for our family of 5 would be $100. A family membership is $200. And this provides unlimited zoo visits without having to make reservations.
*Remeber, it's not a sale if you don't need it or use it. But if you're a family who would enjoy a zoo trip a few times a year, I think it's worth it.
If you arrive before 10am you'll more than likely be able to find free parking, with a walk. Parking lots are lettered, and our favorite parking lot is H, across from the zoo entrance.
If zoo parking is full. We go a few blocks over to the hospital paid parking garage, and take the 10 min walk.
Our Zoo Day Itinerary: [2 Hour Path OR Full Day Path]
2 Hour Path : Left Loop. [If you start left and do the big outer loop you'll get the "big animals" in 2 hour (maybe three with toddlers 😉)
🚻 Right through ticket gates, first stop is bathrooms to your left beside the souvenir shop+picture purchase booth. This also is one of the only water bottle water fountain options.
🐘 Start with the elephants. It's a guarantee winner. They are adorable, massively impressive, always out and you'll get a cute family pictures before everyone gets exhausted. ***See our gallery below
🦓 Follow the path and signs to zebras
🦍 Keep following that path and see Gorillias + Chimps. *If you need a sit spot for snacks/nursing/etc. there's is a large bench looking at the outdoor gorillas. I like the rino spot better but if you need it, it's here.
🦏 Continue that path to Rino
🚻+🍎 Snack Sit and Bathroom at Rinos. Right by the Rinos is a small souvenir shop and multiple tables with umbrellas. This is great for a lunch stop if you brought it.
🦁🐯Lion + Tiger
🐒🦧 OR 🐊🦅Dip into primates to the left OR bald eagle/Alligator to the right.
🚻 Back to the front for a bathroom stop before calling it a day.
same schedule as above then :
Natural play place by the mercats for a wiggle break, then go back for the inside exhibits.
End with Gallopagos Islands which is wonderful! Penguins, turtles, sea lions, and aquarium beauty. 🐧🐢🐠🦭Also it's air conditioned which is a nice break so any Texas heat you've endured during the day
I can not emphasize enough how helpful it is to bring your own food. We pack our own lunches which saves money but also is helpful to just sit and eat anytime you need to.
Obviously there are lots of treats available all over as well as cafe in the center if you'd rather grab lunch here.
Benches are plentiful, but if you want a quiet spot to nurse, in the Gallopogose Exhibit in the front of the zoo, there is a giant bench in front of the aquarium. It's dark, air conditioned, and the bench is big enough to do a quick diaper change too.
Also, there is a quite natural play area behind the meercats. It's fenced in, and a great quite spot to let other kids play while you nurse.
Bathrooms at the front of the park are going to be the busiest.
Next to Rinos and Giraffes is a large family bathroom. This is my favorite whereas it's quiet, big and about halfway on the outer loop. 🦏🦒
Lots of fun souvenirs for all ages are in the gift shop, however I am actually quite impressed with the stuffed animal take home option. They have just about every animal for $25. They are a great size and good quality.
I think spring is a wonderful time weather wise to enjoy the zoo, but I'll say that the fall is extra special. The decorations are extra fun and the weather usually much better after a Texas summer.
Overall, the zoo gets a big thumbs up from us. It's highly impressive with lots of animals, and yet not so overwhelming that you feel like you're walking all day. I think it's worth putting on your todo next time you're in Houston.
Cheers to Core Memories,