Some of my best memories as a child are from visiting the zoo with my Grandpa. It was his thing (along with ice cream) and it’s a tradition I’ve kept alive with my own daughter. So much so, that she wants to be a zookeeper when she grows up!
From the San Diego Zoo to local zoos here in Texas, I’ve seen them all (well, okay, not all of them, but a lot). While they all have their uniqueness, I find myself drawn to the Dallas Zoo over and over again. Yes, I live in the area, but note that we have a lot of local zoos both big and small.
Travel Tip – If you are ever in the Midwest, be sure and visit the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo in Fort Wayne, Indiana, one that is consistently ranked in the Top Ten.
Though all zoos are filled with amazing creatures, it’s sometimes the little things that make a zoo extra special. That’s one area where the Dallas Zoo excels. Here are my top 5 reasons to visit the Dallas Zoo. (Complimentary passes provided. Affiliate links in post where a small commission may be earned at no cost to you for any purchases made.)
Top 5 Reasons to Visit the Dallas Zoo
Endangered Species Carousel
Everyone loves a carousel and the Dallas Zoo has one right at the front of the zoo entrance.
Dallas Zoo’s Endangered Species Carousel is a custom-made merry-go-round featuring hand-crafted exotic animals plus a spinning bird’s nest.
It’s simply gorgeous and has even received a design award from the American Institute of Architects. Impressive!
TIP: If you go around Halloween, the carousel goes backwards! That was so much fun.
While there is a cost in addition to the zoo admission, it’s such a fun way to end the day. Since it’s at the zoo entrance/exit, I like to make it a last stop for the day. It also makes a great conversation starter with young kids about endangered animals.
Cost: $2.00 per rider (just double-checked and it is still $2 after all these years)
Note that there are other fun rides in the zoo such as the T-Rex Express Mini Train ($2 per rider) and the Adventure Safari Monorail ($7 per rider).
Dallas Zoo Giraffe Feeding
I’ve seen opportunities to feed giraffes at zoos around the country before, but this one goes above and beyond in the experience.
You literally come face to face with giraffes at the Diane and Hal Brierley Giraffe Ridge because of how the giraffe habitat is sitting. Giraffes are fed different items throughout the day, so check at the stand right by the attraction to see the schedule.
I was curious as to how well my 7-year old would like this. It was snack time when we went and the option was to feed the giraffe something similar to a cracker. We were given several crackers and after being a bit nervous at first, my daughter really enjoyed it. Look how close she was! Such a great memory (and photo opp)!
Note that while you can pay to experience feeding a giraffe, looking is absolutely free (and in the same area).
Giraffe Feeding – $5.00
PRO TIP: Don’t forget to bring your own Animal Cracker Boxes for snack time. It wouldn’t be a trip to the zoo without it!
Lacerte Family Children’s Zoo
These favorites are listed in no particular order, but I might just spill that the Lacerte Family Children’s Zoo is my favorite unique thing about the Dallas Zoo.
WARNING: If you go here too early in the day, your children might never want to leave and go experience the rest of the zoo. Seriously!
A relaxing oasis with shade and seating for parents, here you’ll find a great play area for kids which includes:
- The Wander – an intriguing entryway with a bubbling fountain called Raccoon Springs, where children can dip their hands
- The Farm – opportunities for children to ride ponies, climb aboard a wooden play horse, pet baby doll sheep, miniature goats, and donkeys, and interact with pot-bellied pigs, rabbits, guinea pigs, and other farm animals
- Travis & Zach’s Birds Landing – an unique, interactive aviary, providing guests with the opportunity to feed worms and seed sticks to almost two dozen species of hand-raised birds
- The Hillcrest Foundation Nature Exchange – providing a unique swap shop for children where they can earn points to trade for other wild treasures
- The JCPenney Discovery House and A.H. Belo Discovery Yard – a replica of a familiar home and yard with discovery opportunities about animals living in our urban environment complete with opportunities to pet snakes, turtles, rats, and other creatures
- The Stream – resembling a creek with water running through rock boulders.
TIP: In summer, bring the kids swimsuits/shoes so they can get in the stream. Such a fun play area!
One thing inside the children’s area that both my daughter and nephew LOVE is this giant spiderweb net!
Great for climbing fun and so creative.
FREE – Best of all, there is no additional fee to enter the children’s zoo area.
I’ve found that the Dallas Zoo has some incredible places within for photo opportunities. If there is one thing this mommy loves to do, it’s take pictures of my daughter.
Here you’ll spy a jeep photo op, seemingly in the savannah. Cute, right?
Well, as soon as my daughter got up into the jeep to smile for the camera, look what happened below:
Ha! Photobomb by the lion.
Yes, this fun photo op is right by the lion exhibit. In fact, half the jeep is WITHIN the lion exhibit. The lion COULD get INTO the back of the jeep. Needless to say, my daughter didn’t stick around to see if he would. Boy, that would have been a photo!
You’ll find so many other fun photo ops throughout the zoo.
Dallas Zoo Themed McDonald’s
Right outside the zoo along the freeway, you’ll find this zoo-themed McDonald’s. Decorated both inside and outside, kids of all ages will love this.
A great spot for a snack on the way home or cold drink, even if the kids are exhausted.
Dallas Zoo Lights
Bonus Tip: Don’t forget to visit the zoo during the holidays. Dallas Zoo Lights joins just one of many best Dallas Christmas events, so much so that I’ve been known to give away tickets during the holiday season. Check out more about Dallas Zoo Lights here. We’ve also attended on Halloween (when we discovered the carousel went backwards) – so fun!
Dallas Zoo Coupons and Discounts
You can always check to see the latest deals and special offers available. Note that children 2 years of age and younger enjoy free admission.
- Ride DART to the Zoo Mondays and Tuesdays to receive a $2.00 discount on general admission to the Zoo. Show your same-day DART Pass at the Dallas Zoo ticket booth to enjoy your discount! (***Not valid with January – February 2015 $8 admission pricing)
- Military Discount – Receive a $2.00 discount per general admission for up to 2 adults and 2 children with a valid Military I.D. (***Not valid with January – February 2015 $8 admission pricing)
- Senior Safari Wednesdays – $5.00 admission for adults age 65+
- Consider purchasing the Dallas CityPASS® – saves visitors up to 40% off regular combined admission to the city’s top attractions, including the Dallas Zoo, Perot Museum of Nature and Science, and more.
- Be on the lookout for Penguin Days in the winter (usually January or February) where you can score deals on admission. Currently runs at $8 per person.