Friday, June 25, 2010

St. Louis Zoo

(For those living in or visiting the St. Louis area, here is the second installment of a small insider's list of the best free activities and events to take advantage of here in my hometown.  See the first installment here.  Please feel free to comment and add your favorite free St. Louis activities.  This is a great town for free fun!)

The St. Louis Zoo is such a big draw it almost seems redundant to talk about it...OK, let's talk about it!  Not only is it "America's #1 Zoo" according to Zagat Survey's U.S. Family Travel Guide, it's free!  It's also huge (see map) and you could easily spend the whole day there and not see everything.  Please see the Zoo website for detailed information for your visit.  These are just a couple of highlights and are really meant as a jumping-off point.

Enjoy the architecture of Historic Hill, the oldest part of the zoo, including the 1904 World's Fair Flight Cage.
Don't be surprised when a peacock struts alongside you, preening on the sidewalk.  Visit the beautiful Mediterranean style Herpetarium built in 1927.  

 Watching the Galapagos tortoises eat lunch is one of our favorite Zoo memories.

This is an especially great time to visit because the Zoo is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the formation of the St. Louis Zoological Society with a new (free) exhibit, Zootennial.  From the website: "The exhibit is located in Peabody Hall, a newly renovated exhibit gallery which was once the historic 1917 Elephant House next to the Bird House. With archived video, old photos, artifacts and fun interactive elements, the stunning Zootennial exhibit will reveal how the Zoo has changed in the past 100 years while its mission has remained the same." 

Jungle Boogie Friday Night Concert Series is from 5-8 p.m. Fridays through September 3rd.  It features an evening of free entertainment and activities for the whole family.  See link for schedules

Insider's tips:
Parking in the Zoo parking lot costs $11 per vehicle.  Plan to find a place to park nearby on the street for a truly free visit.  

The Children's Zoo normally costs $4 per person, the Stingrays at Caribbean Cove exhibit (They're back!  Now with horseshoe crabs!) is $3 and the Conservation Carousel is $3.  All three of these are free during the first hour the zoo is open (8-9 a.m. through September 6, 2010)  Beat the heat and get there early!

There are shows at the Children's Zoo daily except Wednesdays, starting at 10 a.m. (see info near the bottom of the page here) so if you can stretch out your early morning visit to the Children's Zoo, you could catch a show while you're there.  There is a nice playground in the Children's Zoo with a slide which takes you past a tank of river otters.  It's kind of a big deal.

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