We’ve been members of the Akron Zoo for the last two year and thoroughly enjoy visiting. Since we’ve gone countless times, I thought I would share our family’s favorite things about the zoo. Here is our list of the Top 10 Reasons to visit the Akron Zoo.
Number 1: The Size
The Akron Zoo is smaller than the other zoos in Ohio (Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Toledo). While we’ve enjoyed visiting the larger zoos (read about our experience at the Cleveland Zoo here), we prefer the smaller size of the Akron zoo.
Because of its size, my kids can walk the entire grounds. Therefore, I don’t have to pack up a stroller or spend extra energy pushing them around. In addition, walking is great exercise and helps them burn off some of the extra energy they seem to have. This often results in longer afternoon naps!
Number 2: The Variety of Animals
Even though it is smaller in size compared to the other zoos in Ohio, there is still a wide variety of animals to observe. In fact the zoo has over 700 different animals. Our family favorites include the penguins, lion, snow leopard, pink flamingos, and the tiger.
Number 3: The Flow of Exhibits
Whoever is responsible for the layout and organization of the zoo’s exhibits should be praised. There is really no need for a map (although they do have them), just follow along the pathway to the next exhibit. The experience is so much more enjoyable because you intuitively know where you’ve been, where to go next. No more referencing maps and double checking signage!
Number 4: The Farmland and Petting Zoo
In 2011 they completely remodeled their Farmland area and now it’s one of my kid’s favorite attractions at the zoo. There is a lot to do in this area, purchase tickets to ride the train, feed and pet the goats and sheep, milk the pretend cow, and play in the farmland maze.
Number 5: The Conservation Carousel
This unique addition to the zoo opened in 2010. Even if you don’t ride the carousel, you’ll still want to check out the intricately designed animals. It was handcrafted by Carousel Works of Mansfield, Ohio, and consists of 33 different hand-carved and hand-painted animals. It truly is a work of art! Guests can purchase tickets to ride for two dollars.
Number 6: Journey to the Reef
This year the indoor exhibit is no longer all about Jelly Fish (although there are three Jelly Fish tanks remaining). Instead guests are invited to take a Journey to the Reef. The new exhibit opened on May 26th and we were there on opening day to check it out.
At this exhibit visitors learn about the various aspects of and animals that live in coral reefs. The tanks are extremely clear and filled with an amazing variety of sea creatures including: jelly fish, an octopus, moray eels, hermit crabs, star fish, sea urchins, and much more.
The exhibit also includes a Touch Tank, interactive play area, and an educational video game projected on one of the walls. It’s a fantastic addition to the zoo!
Number 7: Shaded Picnic Areas
Depending on the time of day we visit, we either bring along a packed lunch or some snacks to eat. Thankfully the zoo allows guests to bring in outside food and drinks, and they also provide numerous picnic tables throughout the zoo. In addition, the majority of the picnic tables are shaded. As someone who is prone to sun burns, I don’t enjoy sitting out with the sun beating down on me for long periods of time. So I greatly appreciate the enclosed tables.
Number 8: Frontier Town
Near the middle of the zoo there are two miniature log cabins, one that is a set up like a house and one that is set up like a store. It’s always a popular spot for children and their parents can take a seat on the nearby benches while the kids play in the houses and the nearby train.
Number 9: Playgrounds
At first I didn’t understand why the zoo had playgrounds. After all, aren’t the guests there to see the animals? If they wanted their kids to play wouldn’t they just go to a park? I quickly realized the error in my thinking.
The playgrounds at the zoo provide a chance for kids to run and play for a few minutes in between animal exhibits. It’s just another way for them to burn off some of that extra energy they have.
Number 10: Flower Garden “Maze”
Near the back part of the zoo is a beautiful flower garden. There are water fountains and stone walkways that wind through the flowers and greenery. Even though it isn’t technically a maze, my kids treat it as such. They really enjoy walking the pathways to find their way to the caterpillar, butterfly and bee statues.
I also like to tell parents who are planning to visit for the first time, that the exit of the zoo is through the gift shop. This is a great if you intend to purchase a souvenir, but if you don’t plan to purchase any items you may want to make that clear to your children. I’ve found that setting expectations is the best way to prevent meltdowns. Although not fool proof, it’s worked with our children.
I do allow them a few minutes to browse through the toys each time. Doing so, satisfies their desire to check out the cool toys and gives me an opportunity to take note of potential birthday present ideas.
As you can tell we really love going to the Akron Zoo. If you’ve never been I highly recommend visiting. And if you’re a local consider purchasing a membership instead of a one day pass. As long as you visit more than 2 times throughout the year, it is a more cost effective option.
Did I miss anything? What are your favorite aspects of the Akron Zoo?