If you've never been to the Bronx Zoo in New York, prepare to be impressed. After having visited the zoo with my kids for the first time, we were in awe of the incredible animals and attractions (and the enormity of the place). We ended up spending eight hours there and probably could have spent another eight hours, still without seeing everything.
One of my favorite things to do after my kids and I visit a new place is to ask them to list their top five favorite things about the experience. It's great to hear their perspectives on what they saw and did because it can often differ from your own perceptions of their favorites. It also helps to identify where they are developmentally and what kind of trips to plan for them next.
Here are my kids' top 10 favorite things, in no particular order, about their day at the Bronx Zoo:
1. Dinosaur Safari
Hungry T-Rex at the Bronx Zoo — Photo courtesy of Meg Harris
Travel back in time to the age of the dinosaurs on this safari attraction. This is a ten-minute ride through the woods where lifelike dinosaurs greet you along the journey. Be sure to keep your arms and legs in the vehicle because the giant T-Rex is hungry! Your budding paleontologist will not only get to see some of his or her favorite dinosaurs up close, but at the end there is an interactive fossil dig, a shop with all things dinosaur and they get their very own Dinosaur Field Guide.
2. Wild Asia Monorail
Wild Asia Monorail — Photo courtesy of Juliiancolton
Running from May to October, this ride lasts about 20 minutes. You'll pass over the Bronx River and head into the land where tigers, elephants and rhinos roam. It's very relaxing and there are lots of amazing animals to see.
3. Sea Lion Pool
Sea lions — Photo courtesy of Meg Harris
A beautiful historical part of the park where you can take a rest from all of the busyness. The kids will love to sit and watch the sea lions swim. And each day (except Wednesday) at 11:00 am and 3:00 pm, they can watch the sea lions be fed.
Giraffes at the Bronx Zoo — Photo courtesy of Meg Harris
This is my daughter’s absolute favorite animal in the zoo. The giraffes are so incredibly beautiful and tall! Quite a sight to see.
5. Bug Carousel
Fun on the Bug Carousel — Photo courtesy of Meg Harris
Take a ride on your favorite bug! Grasshoppers, ladybugs and praying mantis to name a few. The colors on this ride are spectacular and kids have a lot of fun choosing their favorite bugs!
Lioness Panthera Leo at Bronx Zoo — Photo courtesy of Fred Hsu
In the African Plains section, the kids were fascinated with the lions. On this particular day, the lions were incredibly social; one lion called out and another visitor responded with a call of his own. This went on for five minutes and the kids giggled and learned how talkative the big cats can be,
7. Dippin' Dots
Meg's daughter, Eliza, enjoys Dippin' Dots — Photo courtesy of Meg Harris
The kids also enjoyed their very first Dippin' Dots Ice Cream. For those of you, like myself, who have never heard of Dippin' Dots, the ice cream snack is created by flash freezing the ice cream and mixing it in liquid nitrogen. It's quite an odd tactile experience. The kids loved it!
8. Gorilla Congo Forest
Western Lowland Gorilla at Bronx Zoo — Photo courtesy of Fred Hsu
It’s incredible to see these gorillas up close. You can watch as they eat, climb and play with one another, and if you're lucky, perhaps one will wave to you.
9. Camel Ride
Riding the Camels — Photo courtesy of Julie Larsen Maher @Wildlife Conservation Society
Located in the Wild Asia Plaza, your kids have a chance to hop on a real camel for a ride around the ring. They have step-ups to make it easy for the kids to get on and off. Quite an experience if a trip to Morocco is out of the question.
10. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, the 4-D Experience
Enjoy the 4D Theatre — Photo courtesy of Julie Larsen Maher @ Wildlife Conservation Society
Follow Mannie, Ellie and Diego on their exciting adventure as they try to rescue their friend Sid the Sloth and his three T-Rex babies from Rudy the Dinosaur. This is a 15-minute film with loads of excitement. Recommended for kids 6 and older as it contains a lot of yelling and chasing.
Special Needs Tip: The zoo does a great job focusing on accessibility. Be sure to visit the Guest Relations Building upon arrival for access passes and any other accommodations your family might need.