On the surface, a day trip to the Milwaukee County Zoo sounds like a very pleasant family outing — but there are a lot of animal exhibits and shows to see, plus chances are the kids will disagree on where to go first. And if you're running short on time, or you've got little ones with short attention spans, chances are someone will leave disappointed.
The best way for Milwaukee County residents to circumvent this potential family disaster is with a membership to the Zoological Society of Milwaukee. Membership costs just over $100 and comes with a zoo pass — which will give your family unlimited return visits for a full year and also covers the zoo's somewhat pricey parking.
Once inside, there are several ways to get around the grounds — you can walk the well-marked paths or hop aboard the Safari Train which will get you to the back end of the zoo in a hurry. For an extra $3 you can also see the South American Yard section of the zoo from an aerial view with a ride on the chair lift-style Sky Safari. Informative guided tours of the zoo are also an option with a short 25-minute ride on the Zoomobile.
However you choose to view the zoo, there are some things that can't be missed. The zoo's orangutan, African elephant, Pacific giant octopus, king penguin, snow leopard, California sea lion, leopard shark and two-toed sloth exhibits top the list of kid-favorite animals. For animal shows, you can take your pick from the Seal/Sea Lion Show, the Birds of Prey Show, or zookeeper talks held at various animal enclosures throughout the day.
Round out the day by treating the kids to an animal or pony ride, or get a little more adventurous on the zip lines and ropes courses that make up the zoo's Sky Trail. For tamer entertainment, go for a ride on the zoo's early-1900s carousel or relax at a conservation-themed play or puppet show at the Kohl's Wild Theater.
If you choose to spend all day on the grounds, the Milwaukee Zoo has a number of concession stands and two full-service restaurants to help you feed your own little animals. Budget-conscious families will be happy to know that the zoo does allow for outside food and beverages to be brought in for those who'd rather have a picnic lunch.
Address: 10001 West Blue Mound Road, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53226
Zoo membership website: ZooSociety.org
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