So you’re planning a trip to the Indianapolis Zoo. How do you make the most of your time here? Whether the weather is sunny and warm or rainy and cold, whether you’re juggling 10 kids or you’ve come alone, you can have a sensational visit if you know how to take full advantage of what the Zoo has to offer. Here are
some terrific tips to make the most of your day at the Zoo.
First — and I can't stress this enough — wear comfortable shoes! The Zoo encompasses 65 acres filled with exhibits. You may be pushing a stroller, chasing a 4-year-old or just going back and forth between the Oceans exhibit and the Plains area because your child loves the stingrays and the cheetahs the most. Regardless, you will be on your feet for most of your visit, and you’ll be thankful that you picked the slightly less attractive pair of tennis shoes over your cute new flip flops (and my blistered feet can attest to that). To get a good look at the layout, download this printable PDF map of the 2012 Zoo grounds.
Next, dress in layers. If you choose to visit in the morning, which we recommend because the animals tend to be more active earlier in the day, it is often cooler. It may seem like the ideal jeans-and-long-sleeves weather. But temperatures change throughout the day and you might find yourself melting by noon if you don’t come prepared.
During the warmer months, the Kroger Splash Park and misting stations are great options to cool off, but a dry change of clothes is recommended. And avoid black if possible! (I learned this the hard way when I showed up on my second day of work in head-to-toe black in 103-degree heat).
Also, even if you think you might not be interested in a particular exhibit, give it a try and you may be surprised. If I’ve learned one thing during my time here, it’s that animals are unpredictable. The flamingos might suddenly start arguing for no apparent reason (trust me, it’s a good laugh) or an Alaskan brown bear might decide he’s in the mood for a swim right next to the viewing glass. You can’t anticipate an animal’s mood. I used to think giraffe watching was sort of mundane until I walked by during Feed a Giraffe presented by Meijer. I even got to feed a sweet potato chip to a giraffe, which was very neat! Keep the schedule card you receive when you get here handy; it will give you a rundown of what’s going on at different times throughout the Zoo.
I recommend seeing as much as you can within your time restraints. If you plan on eating lunch at the Zoo, the best time to purchase it on grounds is 30 minutes before or during the Marsh Dolphin Adventure Shows. Afterward, the restaurants become crowded with hungry guests coming from the Dolphin Dome. There are quite a few dining options throughout the Zoo, which includes lots of shaded family-style seating. If you prefer to leave the Zoo for lunch, our close proximity to downtown makes this very easy. There are many wonderful restaurants in the downtown area, some of which are only minutes away (Creation Café is a favorite of many). Or you can pack a cooler to enjoy a picnic lunch at the tables located in the Zoo’s Entry Plaza. The Zoo requires, however, that you leave the cooler in the car while you’re inside the Zoo. (Remember: Don’t feed the animals. Ha!)
Whatever you choose to do, see or eat during your Zoo visit, admission is good for a full day and you can come and go as you please as long as you have a hand stamp or save your stub.
If you come to the Zoo later in the day, you might want to start at the back of the Zoo and work your way forward. That way, you’re sure to see the animals in Plains and Encounters before they go in for the evening.
Still have questions? Visit our Frequently Asked Questions page and you might find a quick and easy response.
What tips do you have to offer Zoo visitors to help make their visit as enjoyable as possible? Share them here.
Alex, Public Relations Summer Intern
Kroger Splash Park photo by Gabi Moore