Visiting the Bronx Zoo in the winter may sound like a terrible idea, but it’s actually kind of awesome – if you’re not expecting the typical zoo experience. Monday afternoon we bundled up and hit the zoo. We arrived around 2:00 and parked in the front row closest to the entrance, because it was EMPTY.
The Bronx Zoo is truly remarkable, it’s one of the largest metropolitan zoos in the world. And it’s huge, more than 265 acres. The winding sidewalks, naturalistic habitats and Bronx River served as my daughter’s backdrop as she ran wild without hearing me yell ‘watch out’ or ‘slow down.’ She roamed and ran and explored at her own free will – it was great seeing her take such delight in the wide open space.
The zoo has a lot of history, it was established in the 1800’s and there is a certain vibe to it that just feels very authentic. It has several architectural features that are official city landmarks, including my favorite, Astor Court.
We’ve visited the Bronx Zoo dozens of times and every time we do something a little different. This time we rode the bug carousel, and when I say rode it…we rode it probably ten times. We ‘bug hopped’ each time it stopped, so tried out all kinds of creatures. Now this carousel is something special, it’s huge and each critter is elaborate and unusual. Many of the critters don’t have the typical saddle so it was more fun for my 4 year old. As a bonus, it’s indoors, so it was toasty warm.
We also went to the fifteen minute 4D movie, Rio. We watched a movie wearing 3D glasses with our seats vibrating while bubbles floated through the air. It was the perfect amount of sensory overload and a cute movie too.
It was also our first time visiting the mouse house, which had more rodents than I cared to see, some very bizarre ones too!
Our next stop was the reptile house, where I braved up and pretended the snakes were beautiful, they were, but still…they’re snakes.
Our last stop was the Madagascar House, which we visit every time. It has a great range of animals. And it’s the closest indoor area to Parking Lot C, our preferred lot because it’s also right by the Children’s Zoo (which is unfortunately closed for the season).
We wrapped up our visit with the sea lion habitat, located by the exit of the Madagascar House, which is another regular stop for us.
The zoo is so big it’s too cumbersome to do it all with a young child in one trip. We happen to be members of the Wildlife Conservation Society, so didn’t have to pay to go in, but I noticed there is a reduced admission during winter hours because many attractions are closed. Regardless, if you plan to visit the Bronx Zoo, Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo, Queens Zoo or NY Aquarium more than once you should go ahead and purchase a membership and enjoy the benefits all year long (they’re all included in the membership). You can bring in food and drinks and a stroller or wagon. So although it’s a pricey admission, once you’re there you can control costs by bringing your own picnic and snacks.
Also, Wednesdays are always free, all day.
Exploring the zoo during the winter is a great way to burn off some energy, roam in an amazing park and learn about wildlife. A membership is also a great holiday gift idea! Thanks to all the workers who keep the Bronx Zoo open year around for all of us to enjoy! I’m a HUGE fan.