Your vacation in Missouri can get as wild as you’d like, but it doesn’t mean things have to be out of control.
Missouri has three large zoos and a collection of zoo-like farms and parks that give you the chance to get up close and personal with all manner of critters, from massive polar bears to little lambs.
For now, we’ll focus on the larger zoos and offer a quick primer to help prep you for a day of fun.
Nuts and bolts:
General admission to the Saint Louis Zoo is free, though there is a fee for some attractions, such as sea lion shows. Also, there is a fee for parking in zoo lots, but if you’re tracking steps via a Fitbit, free street side parking is available around Forest Park – you’re just going to have to walk some.
At Kansas City Zoo, parking lots are located to the north and south of the main entrance on Zoo Drive. There’s no fee for parking, but admission rates run from $11.50 to $14.50 (based on age). Jackson and Clay County residents get a price break; admission ranges from $6 to $7.
Admission to Dickerson Park Zoo runs from $8 to $12, with little patrons (ages 2 and younger) admitted free. The parking lots are located near the Conservation Station and South America exhibits; there is no fee for parking.
Fun features (besides animals):
You’ll get a chance to play “zookeeper,” in a manner of speaking, when you visit Dickerson Park Zoo in Springfield. How? By feeding the giraffes, of course. It’s a popular activity for kids and grown-ups.
Kansas City Zoo’s African Sky Safari takes riders of all ages high above the zoo’s African Plains section for a great view of animals such as lions and cheetahs.
At Saint Louis Zoo, kids love to hop aboard the Zooline Railroad Ride because, well, kids love trains! The ride also is popular among parents who are often weighed down with the gear their kids need.
The residents of Kansas City Zoo’s Helzberg Penguin Plaza will keep you in stitches with their antics. Let’s face it, penguins are just plain cute.
Kali the polar bear has an awesome exhibit at Saint Louis Zoo’s Polar Bear Point. You’ll by awed by his size and power.
The peaceful Aldabra tortoise may not be the first thing you think of on a trip to the zoo, but this giant – historically native to islands of the Indian Ocean – is a sight to behold at Dickerson Park Zoo in Springfield.
Time for feeding (restaurants for you):
Dickerson Park Zoo’s Bush Country Café serves up hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza and chicken strips – otherwise known as kids’ four main food groups.
If you want to keep walking while you eat, Bluey’s in the Australia section of Kansas City Zoo offers walk-about tacos (and grown-ups can grab an adult beverage there, too).
It’s open seasonally, but Ray’s Grill, located near the Stingrays at Caribbean Cove in the Saint Louis Zoo, serves up entrees such as mango lime shrimp tacos and chicken fajitas.
When it comes to fun at Missouri’s zoos, we’re just getting started. You can learn more about these zoos and their features at their respective websites: Saint Louis Zoo, Kansas City Zoo and Dickerson Park Zoo.