The National Zoo

No matter what kind of personality tests I take, I am always identified as being a loyal friend.  It’s true.  I’m the kind of loyal friend that will actually leave the comfort of my air conditioned house and meet you at the National Zoo.  In the afternoon.  In July.

That’s love, I tell you.

My friend Jen – the one who lives in PA, but not the one who came to help me declutter – was in town over the weekend with her family.  They only had a couple of days here, one of which they wanted to dedicate to going to the National Zoo and seeing the pandas.  Normally, I avoid being outside in DC from May through mid-September, but I’m a loyal friend, so off we went.

My advice for going to the National Zoo during summer is this – don’t.  It’s hot, it’s humid and the zoo is built on a hill.  But seeing as how most people insist anyway, here’s my tips:

1.  The zoo is free but the food is overpriced.  Pack your own lunch and snacks if at all possible.  At least bring your own water so you can avoid buying the combo meals.  If you ignore my advice, plan on spending about $8 per person on lunch. Including children.  There’s five of us – do the math.  Ouch is right.

There are also all sorts of snacks to be had around the zoo, so budget for that, too.  You’ll also need to know that lids and straws are not available for your drinks.  We like to bring a toddler cup for Bip rather than let him try to manage the lidless drink.  We also bring an empty, refillable cup to pour the soda in as we leave the restaurant.

2.  The zoo is built on a hill, so at some point you will be walking up.  Try to plan your visit so that at the end of your day, you are at the top of the hill.  Finer points to consider:  if you’re taking the Metro, you’ll be at the top of the hill at the main entrance.  Go all the way down the hill without stopping.  Then start back up, stopping to see animals along the way.  When you’re done with your day, you’ll be at the top of the hill.  Trust me, you will be be thanking me for this tip later. If you park in one of the upper lots (Lots A-C), same thing.  If you park in the lower lots (Lots D-E), it doesn’t matter how you see the zoo, it’s a downhill walk to your car.

3.  The zoo maps aren’t free.  Oh sure, there are signs with maps on them all over the zoo, but the paper ones are not free.  I’d recommend printing one out and bringing it with you.

OK, enough tips.  I’ll do some generic Washington, DC tips at a later time.  Here’s some pictures from the zoo:

On our way home, we passed under the Chinatown arch.  We were first in line at the red light, so I was able to get this great picture.

More Mac and Cheese, please!


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  • Growing up in the DC ‘burbs meant we went to the Zoo a lot. I felt like such a moron the first time I went to a “non-DC” zoo and found out we had to pay. My husband thought I had lost my mind when I told him that of course it would be free. I guess growing up in the District has its perks, LOL!

    I also did not know other museums charged an entry fee until I was in college, LOL!

  • Hey! You can see my house in that picture, the tall, orange/yellow building in the back on the left side of the photo. I love the tiger trying to cool off in the water.

  • We went to the zoo during our “big historical field trip” last year as it was one of the things my dd wanted to do and desperately needed to see the pandas.

    She took about 300+ photos of the animals! It was hot enough in October so I think you are indeed a loyal friend :)

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