There are countless family activities in the Houston area, one being the Houston Zoo. This 55-acre zoological park is home to over 6,000 animals that includes over 900 species. An entire day could be spent walking from one exhibit to the next with not enough hours in the day to see it all. The Children’s Zoo is an experience for those of any age. Visitors can get up close and personal with sheep in the petting area, enter a realistic bat cave or visit the playground for some jumping, climbing and sliding. After a day at the zoo is over and done with, and it’s time for a hearty meal, finding a good place to eat is next on the agenda. Whether the plan includes a meal with a glass of wine or burgers and fries, there are plenty of eating establishments ready to take your order. This is your all-inclusive guide to a successful and enjoyable day at the Houston Zoo.
The Houston Zoo Entrance (Credit, Melissa Moreno)
6200 Hermann Park Drive
Houston, TX 77030
The Houston Zoo was first opened in September 1922, with only a small assortment of alligators, birds and snakes. It wasn’t until 1925 that the zoo added more exhibits and did not begin charging admission until 1988. Today, the Houston Zoo houses over 6,000 animals and operates under the mission statement, “The Houston Zoo provides a fun, unique and inspirational experience fostering appreciation, knowledge and care for the natural world.” Guest are able to experience a vast variety of animals, exhibits and events on each and every visit.
Directions to the ZooThe zoo is located within the 445 acres of Hermann Park, one of Houston’s most visited parks. The park is also home to The Houston Museum of Natural Science, The Miller Outdoor Theater and numerous other attractions. Only a few miles from the Astrodome and Reliant Stadium, Hermann Park is situated between Fannin Street and Cambridge Street, within walking distance from the Texas Medical Center. There are two entrances to the Houston Zoo, the first being at 6200 Hermann Park Drive, where parking is available. The second entrance is across from Ben Taub Hospital, and provides convenient drop-off, pick-up and pedestrian access (there is no parking at this gate). This gate is open only on weekends and major holidays. Guest may also have the option of riding the Metro to the zoo and not need to worry about parking.
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Hours and PriceThe Houston Zoo is open seven days per week from 9 a.m until 7 p.m. One-day admission is $14 for adults (ages 12-64), $10 for children (ages 2-11), $7.50 for senior citizens (65+) and children under 2 are admitted for free. Special pricing and discounts are available for zoo members, military personnel, group rates and more. Guests may also print a coupon from the zoo website for a $4 discount upon entering the zoo after 4 p.m.
Zoo Shops and CafesWalking around all day can certainly build up an appetite, and there are several options for those looking for a quick bite to eat or a place to rest and refresh. The Macaw Cafe offers a seasonal menu of hamburgers, hot dogs, salads, wraps, fresh fruit and desserts for those with a sweet tooth. Cypress Circle provides guests with an ever-changing menu and a great view of Duck Lake and is perfect for those adults seeking an adult beverage. The Twiga Cafe is where guests go when they want to enjoy a meal in the cool air, and serves everything from hamburgers to salad to pizza. An outdoor patio is available for those wanting to watch the giraffes and rhinos while eating. For those only needing a sweet treat or a cool drink, the Herzstein Trading Post is the perfect pit stop. Throughout the zoo, there are countless kiosks and carts available for a snack or drink to go. Souvenirs are abundant in the two on-site gift shops, from t-shirts to stuffed animals to handicrafts from around the world.
Animals and Exhibits
The 6,000 or more animals who call Houston home are located within several different areas throughout the zoo. The Carnivore Exhibit is home to tigers, jaguars, grizzly bears and the University of Houston’s mascot, Shasta, the cougar. Visitors will also want to make sure to see the African exhibit, Natural Encounters, home to an array of animals from the rainforest, the dessert or even the coral reef. Primates, sea lions, reptiles, birds, sea life and more are all just a short drive away.
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Melissa Moreno is a freelance writer covering all things Houston. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.