May 18, 2011

Wednesday Wanderings -- Blank Park Zoo

 It's Wednesday again already, so where shall we go today? The Blank Park Zoo is another of our favorite destinations in central Iowa.  Though the zoo is a lot smaller than many zoos, we find that makes it perfect for a day trip.  We usually get there at 10 am when it opens, have a picnic lunch, then leave between 1-2 pm.  They have many great events, and it's also good to just visit for an hour or so if you only want to visit a specific area.  A tour...

We tend to follow a certain circle when we go to the zoo.  We begin in the Discovery Center, which is completely indoors.  An hour easily could be spent inside if you need something to do on a rainy or cold day.  There are some aquariums, a small rain forest area, birds, sloths, tamarins, and red pandas.

After you get outside, they have flamingos, tortoises, fun-loving otters, and lemurs to enjoy.

My kids really love the Australia exhibit.  It is currently under construction but expected to re-open this summer.  Visitors are able to walk through on a trail, with emus, swans, and wallabies right next to you, sometimes walking or hopping right across your path.

See the baby in the pouch?

The next area you will find is a petting zoo with many critters.  We sometimes skip this area to save time, and sometimes we spend hours in there.  They also have a big play structure for burning off excess energy.  Just outside of the petting zoo, there is the most fun interactive display for prairie dogs.  The kids love this one!

After the prairie dogs, you can watch the sea lions and penguins, then on to the big cats!  They're housed partially indoors and partially outdoors, and close enough that you can really watch them--and they can watch you.  

Stop and see the gibbons and their antics and go on the Africa walk, with several animals from safari.  We love the giraffes.

After Africa, you can visit the Japanese macaques, bald eagles, and feed the parakeets.

We carry a membership to the zoo and the science center.  The dual family membership is a pretty good deal at $159 for both places for a family for a year.  We tend to go often when we have a membership, and we've found that the reciprocity saves us a lot of money when we visit other cities.  (Nearest our area, the Mississippi River Museum in Dubuque, Henry Doorly Zoo, Lincoln Children's Zoo are included.)

I always post the zoo's events in the free fun calendar.  Most events are free with your paid admission, and they schedule events often.  During the summer, every Wednesday is Zoo Brew for the over 21 crowd.  Looks like they've replaced the Friday Family nights with Adventure Days.  You can see the Adventure Days themes HERE.  The first one is this Saturday!

  • Butterfly garden planting: 10 a.m. - Noon
  • Plant Seeds to take home and grow: Noon - 5 p.m.
  • IPTV will be handing out Curious George seeds and activity sheets.
  • Lite 104.1 will be onsite broadcasting live from 10 a.m. - Noon.
  • Make a fish ornament and learn about ocean conservation.
  • Several other crafts and games throughout the day.
The other new item we're excited about is the dinosaur exhibit.  It doesn't start till May 27th, so no photos of that area yet.  It looks like members will get a preview on May 26th.  Yet another reason to belong.

With summer approaching, I am going to start covering some of the best places to go in and around Central Iowa.  If you want more information about a particular place, you can contact me through the comments here and place a request.  If you have more information to share about a particular place, let me know and I will get it added.  Look for a new post every Wednesday, unless I get too busy or forget.  Check the "wandering" tab for more of the posts in this series, or the SSSS tab for more ideas for entertaining the short people in your home.

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