There are so many wonderful things to do with children in Jacksonville, and one of our all-time favorites is the Jacksonville Zoo! We took our daughter for the first time when she was 7 months old. Sure, she was a bit too young to understand what she was looking at, but we needed to get out of the house, and she loved riding in the stroller. We had so much fun as a family on that visit, we became zoo members that same day! Five years later and the zoo is still one of our favorite family activities. Here are 10 reasons why we love our Jax Zoo membership:
1. A zoo membership pays for itself in about two visits — admission is free for the whole year once you become a member! This means we can go as often as we want and can stay as long (or as little) as we want. You know how it is when you go to a theme park and pay a significant amount of money for admission, and then one (or all) of your children have a meltdown. Or they are cranky. Or it is too hot. Or too cold. Or their feet hurt. But you spent all that money, so you keep trying to make it work. With a zoo membership, you can stay for an hour or two and not feel guilty for leaving. My son and I love stopping by the zoo in the mornings while his big sister is at school, and he doesn’t give me grief about leaving before lunch because he knows that we will be back.
2. Our zoo membership also saves us money with discounts on food, rides, shows and gifts. We also have access to the members-only prepaid “punch cards” for rides such as the carousel and train. The prepaid cards save us more than 25% on the rides, which adds up because my kids absolutely love riding both the carousel and the train as often as possible!
3. The zoo offers many unique exhibits and shows, and members get to check them out first with sneak peeks and members-only viewings. When Destination: DINO was at the zoo last year, my kids were super excited to check it out, and I loved being able to take them early!
4. Peace and quiet. No, not at the actual zoo, but almost always after. My kids are usually so worn out, even after a couple of hours, that they will either nap or zone out on the way home.
5. The kids aren’t the only ones who are worn out; the zoo is also fantastic exercise for parents! When my kids were of stroller age, I loved walking the zoo while pushing the stroller — it is nearly a three-mile walk! These days, at ages 4 and 5 years old, they are too big for a stroller, but we still end up chasing them around and most likely carrying one or both towards the end of the day.
6. Member movie nights are one of my favorite perks of our zoo membership! These exclusive events are one-of-a-kind experiences where we have created lasting family memories. Last month, we watched Moana under the stars after eating dinner by the river and enjoying free carousel rides.
7. As the school year is coming to an end, the zoo a wonderful place to entertain the kids throughout the summer! It will keep their minds stimulated and burn off energy. We always pack swimsuits over the summer so the kids can cool off at the 4,000-square-foot splash pad and then head over to the play park for some climbing and sliding.
8. Speaking of summer, members receive discounts on Education Programs, including summer camp! Zoo camps include tours, games, crafts, activities and animal encounters every day, which is a pretty awesome way to spend a summer day.
9. In addition to all of the benefits here in Jacksonville, your zoo membership gets you discounted or free admission to zoos and aquariums all over the country! Whether visiting family in North Carolina, Pennsylvania or down the road in Tampa, we love being able to take our family to other amazing locations.
10. This one seems obvious, but one of the best reasons to become a member of the zoo is the amazing animals! Your family forms a deeper connection with the animals from being able to see them so often. We all enjoy reading the quarterly magazine and learning behind-the-scenes information about what the animals are up to. And a portion of every membership goes to supporting wildlife conservation, education and research efforts, making our family a partner of conservation efforts around the world, which a great feeling.
Special Jacksonville Zoo Offer
The Jacksonville Zoo is offering 10% off any membership purchased during the month of June 2017. Click here for details.
Learn more about the various membership levels offered at the Jacksonville Zoo and other ways to sign up at JacksonvilleZoo.org.
What is your favorite part of the Jacksonville Zoo?