Top baby-friendly zoos and aquariums

Whitney Coy is a freelance writer and editor based in Columbus, OH, where she lives with her husband and two daughters. She writes frequently for SheKnows, as well as several other websites. She writes on topics including parenting, trav...

Zoo day with your baby

If you're going to take your baby to a zoo or aquarium, it's important that you find a baby-friendly one. We've scoured the top zoos and aquariums in the country and found the ones that are the most accommodating to moms and babies, so pick one (or more) and have fun!

mom and baby at zooColumbus Zoo and Aquarium

Can't decide whether to go a zoo or an aquarium? We've got you covered — you get the best of both worlds in Columbus, Ohio! There is a stroller rental at the entrance, and rentals are large, clean and reasonably priced. Most of the exhibits are low enough that the baby can see from the stroller, and every path is wide and even for easy pushing. If you want to see fish, there's a huge aquarium with stadium-like seating facing the glass. This large and comfy seating is a perfect place to cool down from the sun, and the dim lighting makes it a private place for the baby to nurse or take a bottle. Right next door is a building with a massive manatee tank. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is known worldwide for its famous director emeritus, Jack Hannah, one of the world's most-loved zookeepers. If he's in town, you may even see him zipping around on his golf cart!

Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo

Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo doesn't believe in keeping barriers between you and most of the animals. At this zoo, you and your baby can feed a giraffe, pet a goat, walk with wallaby, feed a rhino, feed a lorikeet, touch a stingray, pet or ride a camel and much more. There are a few rides at this zoo, as well. Though most of them are for toddlers and older, you can take the baby on the train ride or carousel and listen to her squeal with glee once the ride starts up. There are a few splash-and-play water areas that are great for cooling the baby off on a hot day, and there's even a shaded rest area with comfy benches and child-sized picnic tables that's great for feeding time.

Quick Tip

Think about putting your baby in a carrier instead of a stroller. They'll be able to see more from up high, and it'll be easier to navigate crowds.

Saint Louis Zoo

A visit to the Saint Louis Zoo is more like a visit into the wild than a visit to the zoo. The River's Edge is an immersion exhibit that lets you follow a winding path through the animals' habitats with limited barriers — you feel like you're right in there with them! The whole path is stroller-friendly, and you'll love hearing your baby scream in delight as she finds herself face-to-face with a hippo or an elephant. Near the Rover's Edge, you'll also find the Zooline Railroad Station, a 1-1/2 mile narrated train ride around the zoo. It'll cost you $5 to ride, but you can bring the baby along for free. When you need a break, take babies and tots to the Cubs and Pups pad in the Zoomagination Station. Here, they have an indoor area filled with soft surfaces and puppet shows! Don't stop here without visiting the penguins — they're the big showpiece of this zoo, and you won't get a chance to see them like this anyplace else.

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Any aquarium is a delight for babies — the bright colors and big fish are enchanting to little ones. Monterey Bay Aquarium, however, has gone out of their way to make it a welcoming and fun place for kids, babies and mommies of all ages! This aquarium boasts Splash Zone, a play area designed for wee babies. Coral Babies is a soft, safe place for babies who are crawling (and even those still on their backs!) to see and touch things at their level. The Waterbed Play Area is a water-filled mat where babies can crawl and feel how the water moves. There's also a block area and a touch pool, all just for the littlest visitors. Strollers are welcome all year long, but it'll be much easier to navigate with one if you go during the off season, when the weather is cooler.

Fun with baby

Need more great ideas for spending quality time with your baby? Check out Baby's Day Out City Guide — you'll discover all the top baby-friendly destinations and how to enjoy them with your little one.

More tips

Baby friendly national parks
Baby-friendly water parks
Best campsites for baby

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