One of my favorite places to go on a family day trip that is close by and moderately priced is the Roger Williams Park Zoo. We bought a zoo membership last fall when we went to the annual Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular (a great time to see the animals and see some creatively cut pumpkins). It has been so hot this summer (at least on my days off) that we had only used our membership twice. So when the weathermen forecast last Thursday to be one of the best days of the year, I packed the hubby, three kids and our day bag into my van and off we went.
Of, course, its never quite that easy - we didn't leave until noon and I hadn't packed a lunch as I usually do, so by the time we stopped at the Subway located just down the street from the zoo, ate lunch next to the Shakespearean style amphitheater in the park, it was almost two o'clock by the time we made it through the zoo gates. I have said it before (to my family) and I will say it again - this Park has so much to offer a Family of 5 (or any number) that I could spend the whole day there. We just never leave in time. So pack up a picnic and leave early, reserving you plenty of time to enjoy the Swan Boats, Carousel, Duck Tours (seasonal), playground, all the park grounds, which are beautiful , as well as the zoo and animals themselves.
If you have not been to the Roger Williams Zoo in over a year, you will be pleasantly surprised by their new non-animal addition, nostalgically named, Our Big Backyard. Complete with a huge tree house where kids can go on a self-guided scavenger hunt, Our Big Backyard is a day of play in itself. In fact, we spent the majority of our time here, only visiting a few of the animals. There is a Creativity Corner, where kids can make musical melodies on rustic percussion instruments, while others can dress up and put on a show. There's a spot where the builders can build there own fort, climbers can climb, and swingers can swing. But the best part of all was the water play area. Even babies can enjoy splashing in a small river, while older siblings drop fish in from the top and watch them float "downstream." Match the hoses to the co-ordinating colored faucets to make water sprinkle from different outlets. This is the perfect activity for a hot day, especially after the walk around the zoo. So remember those swim trunks!
Of course you will leave early and have the whole day, so enjoy all the animals and then head to the play area. The main reason I love this zoo, better then any other bigger zoo, is its small size. I can walk the loop and not miss any animals, not feel as though I have walked miles, and not feel as though the animals are cramped in tiny cages. The animals have very nice quarters, if I do say so myself, as a wild human looking in on them, that is. You are pretty close up to the animals, especially if you get there early and can watch any of the animal feedings or the elephant baths. We've seen the elephant baths once, and it was pretty interesting. I promise, the next time we go I will get rolling at the break of dawn (ha ha) and have a lot more to tell you about. We've done the carousel, its cheap and fun for kids of all ages. There's a big playground there, and many pretty areas to picnic. The duck tours are new, I think, and only run until the end of September, so we're hoping to go again and do that, as a late summer stay cation trip. Hey, who's to say summer ends when school begins? If the weather is nice, I say there will be beach days, lake days and zoo days! Stay tuned.
Quick tips for Roger Williams Park Zoo:
Leave Early (or you'll wish you had)
Pack a picnic
Pack swimsuits for the kids (nice changing rooms there)
Parking is free!