We recently took a trip to the Bronx Zoo. It was our first time going as a family. Here is a recap of our trip and a few tricks I learned along the way to save a little money.
It took us about 2 hours to get to the Bronx Zoo from our house in Connecticut. It was just enough time for my three kids to take a power nap in the car, and help alleviate any tired toddler tantrums. The drive was easy but I know that you can hit traffic depending on the day and time of year that you go.
We chose to pay the $15 to park in the zoo parking lot. It made things easier with our stroller and kids. Street parking is available and can help keep the cost of the day down if you don’t mind a little walk.
We purchased Total Experience tickets. You save 10% off each ticket when you purchase online. You can either choose to print the tickets out or save them to your smartphone. I kept them on my phone. Someone scans them at the gate and then at every Total Experience entry. It was easy and convenient.
A less expensive option is to buy general admission tickets. They are available to purchase at the gate only. The don’t cost as much as the Total Experience package but they also don’t give you access to the extra parts of the park. This is a good option if you want to save a little money and don’t mind missing a few of the special exhibits.
The Total Experience ticket gives you unlimited access to special parts of the park. If you have a general admission ticket and can still pay $5 for each experience you wish to enter. Keep your tickets handy because you have to show them at each entry point.
- 4-D Theater
- Bug Carousel
- Butterfly Garden
- Children’s Zoo
- Congo Gorilla Forest
- Zoo Shuttle
Schedule of Events
The Bronx Zoo is open year-round (except for major holidays). There are so many wonderful events scheduled every day. Make sure to check before you go or read the schedules when you enter the zoo.
Our trip was last minute so I didn’t do a lot of planning beforehand. With three little ones in tow, I wanted the day to be more about family bonding than the need to visit every exhibit. We got to the zoo around noon (it opens at 10) and left when it closed. Our day was filled with exhibits but there were plenty of areas that we didn’t get to see. It think a return visit is needed.
Outside food is permitted at the zoo. This is a great way to help keep the costs down. I brought along water bottles for the whole family (there are water fountains throughout the zoo for fill-ups) and a few snacks. Of course you can also purchase food at the zoo. There is a restaurant and several snack stations in the zoo. There are also plenty of picnic areas to enjoy lunch or a snack.
Strollers are allowed in many areas of the zoo. Strollers are available for rental ($10/single, $15/double). We brought along our new stroller to hold all three kids while walking around the park since it’s a lot of walking for little ones. There are a few places where strollers are not allowed. I’d also recommend bringing your baby carrier to free up your hands while in those exhibits.
World of Reptiles
We started our day at the Reptile House. It’s one of the areas at the zoo that is o. Inside of the house are lots of different reptiles in tanks. The highlight of the house were the crocodiles.
The brown bears were my personal favorite exhibit. There were two bears in the water splashing around and playing. There was a third bear supervising from the rocks above. I imagine that he was silently judging the other two bears.
The zoo also has grizzly and polar bears, but we didn’t end up seeing them because you have to go down stairs or walk all the way around.
TIP: Go past the Himalayan Highlands and World of Darkness to travel between bears without stairs.
There is an outdoor and indoor viewing area for giraffes.
4-D Show: Rio
We didn’t watch the 4-D show while we were at the zoo. There was a significant line waiting to see the show and with no guarantee that my kids wouldn’t freak out in the theater I wasn’t willing to wait in line. The show is included in the Total Experience package or an additional $5 per person if you get general admission.
Tip: The show is geared toward children 6 and up, not recommended for ages under 4.
As part of the Total Experience you get free admission into the Congo Gorilla Forest. Strollers are not allowed inside.
You get to view several gorillas behind glass walls. I thought that the highlight of the experience was watching giant primates gnaw on tree bark UNTIL I saw the baby gorillas with their mamas. We saw three babies total – one sleeping with her mom and two others playing. It was the cutest thing. I could have stayed watching them all day.
The butterfly garden is part of the Total Experience and you are allowed to bring your stroller through. It’s definitely worth it for my butterfly loving daughters. They’re still talking about it today.
You walk through two sets of doors that lead you to a greenhouse filled with plants and at least a dozen different types of butterflies. The butterflies fly from flower to flower. There’s even an area where you can see butterflies emerging from their chrysalis.
After you leave the greenhouse you walk through the butterfly garden. I imagine when the weather is warmer butterflies are flying all around.
The African Plains features lions, zebras, and wild dogs. I was really surprised to see that the lions were so active. They were roaring and playing with each other.
Ride a guided camel around the Wild Asia Plaza corner of the zoo for only $6. We didn’t try it out personally but it looked like a lot of fun.
JungleWorld was part of the Total Experience. It was not stroller-friendly so make sure to bring along your baby carrier or be prepared to hold little ones. Inside they have different types of monkeys swinging from branches, a black panther, and an animal that looks like a cross between an anteater and a pig (Malayan Tapir).
We had a great time at the Bronx Zoo. The weather was perfect and the crowds were small since it was still early in the season. I’m already eager to go back and see some of the exhibits we missed. I’ll be sure to use some of my money saving tips on our return visit.
Tips to Save Money at the Bronx Zoo
- Visit on Wednesdays for free admission (donations welcome)
- Buy tickets online and save 10% off admission
- Bring military or NYC undergraduate ID for discounted tickets
- Children 2 and under are free
- Avoid $15 parking fee by using street parking
- Use your own stroller and save money on renting ($10/single, $15/double)
- Bring along your own food into the zoo