NYC Toddler Weekends: The Bronx Zoo

Now that we are squarely in back to school mode, and are ready for the structure and routine of the school year (or is that just me??),  perhaps some of us are quietly freaking out with what to do with our kids on weekends now that camp is over. I’m sure most weekends will get taken up with various birthday parties and family functions but outside of Asher’s weekly swim lesson, we are pretty much on our own for trying to provide the same sort of entertainment and activity that he is getting during the week in daycare.  Enter, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and in particular The Bronx Zoo!

Around Halloween of last year we happened to go to The Bronx Zoo on the last day of their “Boo at the Zoo“.  Asher had just turned one and was still pretty much stroller bound, but he had such a blast, we stopped by the membership services booth on our way out, “just to see”*. They offer a number of different packages that offer entrance to a number of the WCS’s parks.  Since the memberships are annual and Asher was under 2 years old, we opted for the Dual Zoos + Aquarium with the $30 add on for Parking (Bronx Zoo only).  Since we had already paid full price for admittance that day, we were able to show our ticket stubs and they tool that amount off the membership price which pretty much knocked the membership dues down to about $150.  This gets us free entrance into all 4 Zoos in NYC as well as  the NY Aquarium and gets us free parking at the Bronx Zoo.  Considering a regular adult ticket is $40 and parking is $17, we have definitely gotten our money’s worth after a trip to at least 2 of the parks.  

*It is important to note that anytime Mike has suggested we go “just to see” there is a 115% chance we will be leaving with some sort of  major/life altering purchase, including our pup Augustus, our cars, and pretty much all the camera or electronic equipment we own.

Membership Perks:

One of the biggest perks of the membership is obviously the “free admission” to all NYC Zoos and the Aquarium,  It makes it so much easier to plan an impromptu Zoo day when we need to get out of the house and burn off some of that excess energy.  We literally just hop in the car with our stroller, membership card (and souvenir cups for $1 refills!) and toddler in tow.  With just a little bit more planning, I can even throw together snacks and meals so we don’t have to splurge at the various concession stands.  But to be honest, the smell of fries and churros are hard to pass up and it is sometimes really not worth the mood killer of having to tell an excited toddler “no” and deal with the meltdown.  Membership also gets you into the premium attractions like the Monorail which is one of our favorites once Asher gets close to naptime and is way too tired to walk.  Membership also gets you access to a special dining area in the main cafeteria which tends to be a little quieter and less chaotic for when you need your little one to focus on eating and perhaps wind down for a stroller nap.  

The Bronx Zoo is quite surprisingly large and it can be a little too ambitious with a toddler to see all the animals.  With the membership we don’t have to worry about hitting all the exhibits to “get our money’s worth.”  Likewise spending $100+ on regular admission would feel wildly decadent for a half day outing or going for a few hours in between nap times however the membership helps to ease that concern.

Here are some of our favorite exhibits from our last trip a few weeks ago.

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