Hey dads! I just want to share my recent family day at Zoo Atlanta in case you’re considering paying them a visit. It’s a pretty fun and low-key alternative to the more-expensive Georgia Aquarium or Six Flags.
First off, their full-price tickets are pretty reasonable. But, if you can, look for a discount or get a Groupon like we did. Or, if you think you’ll be visiting more than once, the family membership certainly pays for itself.
I was expecting to learn a thing or two inside the park. But surprisingly, the learning started in the parking lot! We were about to park in a handicap spot because of my mom’s recent spinal fusion, but then I noticed the ambiguously labeled parking for “green” vehicles. Nice PR move. I figured my Nissan Leaf met that mysteriously undisclosed criteria, and my mom didn’t mind walking the additional 20 feet. So, I parked neatly between a 2005 VW Beetle and a 1999 Buick LeSabre. Green parking, huh? I can only assume the Beetle had been converted to bio-diesel and the LeSabre was retrofitted with some experimental hydrogen cell technology. Mind = blown.
The zoo animals are pretty much what you would expect. My young daughter doesn’t say much, but I could tell in her expressions that she was shocked to discover elephants and giraffes are much larger in person than they appear in her touch & feel books. All in all, pretty cool. Though, I was more impressed by the more majestic large mammals than the recently-opened reptiles and amphibians exhibit.
Now, before I continue, let’s talk about strollers for a minute. (As a new parent, I didn’t realize how often the topic of strollers would come up!) The majority of zoo patrons are families, and with that many families comes A LOT of strollers. It got a little crazy at times. The zoo has some available, but you should bring your own. Now, we chose to bring a small umbrella stroller. While it was more maneuverable and easier to fit through the crowds, we didn’t have room for all our junk (purses, diaper bag, camera bag, etc.). So a bigger stroller would have been more functional, but also harder to fit through the periodic stroller traffic jams and bottlenecks. It was a moot point though, because my daughter wanted to walk 95% of the time and our little stroller was filled with bags instead of a child.
The “Kid Zone” is decent, but many parts of it cost a little extra. The petting zoo was free, and was fun for a few minutes. It was mostly goats. The splash fountain is free too, but we didn’t come prepared for that one. The carousel, train ride, and climbing wall each will set you back a few bucks. I should mention, if you’re going to accompany a child on the train ride, you should either (a) be relatively small in stature or (b) yearn for the golden days of riding in the cramped back seat of a fox-body Mustang.
One of the main downsides to Zoo Atlanta is the fact that it’s weather dependent. Not insightful information there, but you should have a back-up plan (or a back-up weekend) in case the weather looks sour. That back-up plan should NOT involve the Georgia Aquarium because everybody and their brother goes there when it rains. If it’s hot, don’t sweat it (sorry, can’t resist puns). Just bring plenty of water. A significant portion of the zoo is shaded, which helps a lot.
Lastly, unlike Six Flags, the zoo won’t take an entire day to see. That may be good or bad depending on your needs and expectations. In our case, it was perfect. We got there shortly after they opened and blew through the majority of the zoo before my daughter reached the apex of her pre-nap crankiness and before the afternoon sun achieved full beast mode. Success.