I am one of those rare people who was born and raised in Florida! So, anytime I hear of a fulltime family asking questions about this great state of ours, I always have to chime in – I just can’t help it! Most recently I have encountered questions about Jacksonville, Florida. Jacksonville is one of our favorite places to go on an educational adventure. Especially when that adventure leads us to the Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens!
We love this zoo! They are always offering some sort of special deal to bring us in. In January, they often offer $2 Tuesdays, $3 Wednesdays, and $5 Fridays! In November they offered Kids Free Admission all month long. For Mother’s Day in May, Mommas get in for FREE! Every month is something. Stop by their website and see what they have going on while you are in town before you go.
We started bringing our kids to the Jacksonville Zoo when our bigger bunch was only toddlers. On Mother’s Day of 2003 we brought our little ones to see the monkeys and have been going back every year since! Our favorite exhibits have changed over the years, as our children have grown and changed too. One year the gators stole the show, another it was the elephants, the year before last was the visit of the giraffes, and our visit this past year the parrots were the talk of the ride home- they were all over our friend’s daughter!
One thing that has been consistent with every trip was that no one went home disappointed, everyone had a wonderful time, and we never felt it was a waste of our time or money!
Feeding Giraffes, Riding Trains, or Playing in the Splash Ground & Play Park!
What we love about the zoo is all of the extra activities they offer. Many kids will get bored after watching the animals for too long. Each area offers a little something extra. Our favorite free options are playing in the Splash Ground and Play Park. You will want to visit this portion of the zoo near the end of your journey – when you really need a good break! When we go as a group, moms will monitor the exits and the bigger kids are able to play freely together. We normally spend an hour (or more) in the play park alone! (Not including the splash ground when the weather permits.)
Unfortunately, not everything they offer is included with your park admission. We generally allow the kids one extra [paying] activity per visit. Our favorite extra activities are the train ride and feeding the giraffes. We pair an older sibling with a younger one to feed the giraffes (one price- two kids!). They like this because they are so high up on the platform they feel a little scared, and then to have a silly looking animal taking food from your hand – it is memorable.
Other great extras are Campground Critters, 4D Theater and unlimited Train & Carousel Rides! (*Prices range from $2-$4 per person for extra activities.)
Birthday Party on the Cheap!
One year our daughter’s birthday was on a $2 Tuesday, so we had a few friends meet us at the zoo for the day. It was such an inexpensive birthday party! For lunch, we had pizza delivered to the zoo’s outdoor picnic area. This area offered plenty of tables, restrooms, and even a playground. There wasn’t a fee for “reserving” tables, and since it was outside of the zoo we didn’t have to worry about lugging around gifts.
My total expense for this birthday party was roughly $100! This included admission to the zoo, cupcakes, snacks, drinks, pizza, party supplies and even a few extra cost activities! Did I mention, we had over twenty friends in attendance?!!