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We took our kids to the Los Angeles Zoo last week and we had a great time. It was Jack’s second time visiting and Olivia’s first. But what really made our trip so good, besides seeing all the wonderful animals, of course, was that we were prepared. So, if you’re planning a trip to the Los Angeles Zoo, make sure you do a little advance preparation so that your trip goes off without a hitch. Here are 10 tips that really helped our zoo experience.

Download the zoo map
First things first: Get familiar with the layout of the zoo before you go so that you can plot out what animals you want to see and what route you want to take. You can download and print the zoo’s map in advance and take it with you so you know exactly where you’re going.

Learn about the animals
The Los Angeles Zoo is home to more than 2,200 mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish representing more than 270 different species, of which more than 60 are endangered. Before you visit, learn about the animals that the zoo is home to and if you’ve got little kids, teach them about the animals and find out which ones they’re most excited to see. The zoo website has lots of information about the animals so that you’re armed with knowledge before you go.

RELATED: Our Family Trip to Legoland

Wear supportive walking shoes
The Los Angeles Zoo is situated on 133 acres of land but fortunately, you won’t be walking all of that! But you will do a lot of walking and the layout of the zoo means you’ll probably find yourself backtracking here and there. Make sure you’re wearing good, supportive walking shoes. And it doesn’t hurt to have an extra pair, just in case. I threw an extra pair of shoes in my bag before leaving home and I ended up needing them because the shoes I was wearing gave me a blister while we were there, even though they’re normally very comfortable.

Don’t forget about sun protection

While there are shaded areas throughout the zoo where you can stop and take a break, there are lots of unshaded areas, too. And during the hot summer months, you’ll want to be well protected. Pack a sun hat, sunscreen and lip balm with SPF.

Arrive early

We arrived right when the zoo opened at 10am and recommend you do the same. The crowds tend to be a bit lighter earlier in the day and you can probably see most of the zoo before the hot afternoon sun becomes overwhelming. The zoo closes at 5pm each day and the last entry is at 3:45pm but they start putting some of the animals away at 3:30pm, which is another reason to go early.

Visit on a weekday
If you want to avoid crowds, visit on a weekday. Like everywhere else, weekends are busy. Plus, parking is free on weekdays!

Start at the back
This was our second time taking our kids to the Los Angeles Zoo and the first time we went, we bee-lined straight to the back of the zoo and worked our way from the back to the front. This way, we avoided large groups of people and were walking against the crowd. There was no one at the back of the zoo so we had lots of space to ourselves and could get a good view of everything without jostling between other guests. Also, by the time we were done, we were back at the entrance/exit to the zoo and could get our tired kiddos back to the car quickly.

Take a wagon

If you’re going to the zoo with little kids, consider taking a wagon. Instead of using a stroller for our little one, we packed a collapsible wagon that fit both of our kids (our daughter is 22 months and our son is four and a half) and it was definitely the right move. The wagon was easy to maneuver and both kids fit in there comfortably when they got tired of walking. Plus, it’s also great for carrying bottled water, those extra shoes I mentioned above and anything else you’re taking with you, so you don’t have to carry it yourself.

Eat churros

I’m a soft ice cream kind of girl so I’m always sniffing that out when we’re at a park on a hot day. But I’ve heard from multiple people that the thing to eat the zoo is churros from The Churro Factory, specifically, a churro sundae with chocolate sauce and whipping cream.

Get a yearly membership
If you plan on going to the Los Angeles Zoo more than once, then look into purchasing a yearly membership. The entry line for members is much shorter and a membership pays for itself after just two visits. A family membership is $150 and comes with discounts like 10% off at restaurants and shops inside the zoo. Without a membership, the entry fees (at the time of publication) are:

Adults (ages 13-61): $22
Seniors (61+): $19
Kids (2-12): $17
Infants (up to 23 months): Free

During COVID-19, the Los Angeles Zoo is operating in accordance with state and local guidelines. On June 15, 2021, many restrictions were lifted in California. To find out what you need to know before you go and to learn about what the zoo is doing to keep everyone (animals included) safe, click here.

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