Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Riverbanks Zoo - Day Trip

So it's not exactly Charlotte, but instead a day trip from Charlotte. It's the Riverbanks Zoo and it's well worth the hour and 30 minute drive. We all packed in the minivan, packed a lunch and headed to Columbia. The drive is easy, a straight shot on Rt. 77 nearly the entire way. The zoo is just the right size, not too big and not too small - with cute up close and personal animal encounters. They have all the standards - lions and tigers and bears (OH MY!) as well as some cute little waddlers in tuxedos and a gorgeous botanical garden that is well worth the hike (AND ITS A HIKE) up to it, or be smarter than us and take the tram up!

Our favorite part was feeding the giraffes, but be aware it only happens from 11:30 - 1:30, but is well worth the $2 leafy treats they are hocking. The second favorite experience was feeding the birds ($2), my husband was able to coax one onto his hand so our daughter could hold the cup while it ate. They are mischievous little birds though, and tried time and time again to pull the cup away from her but she prevailed in hanging onto it. Pony rides were also fun and reasonably priced at $5

The animals at this zoo all seem very up close and accessible. We checked out the gorilla feeding which happened at 11:30, and the huge silver back was just on the other side of the glass and S was mesmerized as the zoo keeper talked about all things gorilla. The penguins are always so cute as they waddle and swim around and were putting on quite a show. The monkeys swung on their ropes and howled while the lions and tigers lazed around blending in with their surroundings. I missed the reptile area because I was nursing the baby, (oh darn) but S reveled at the HUGA-MONGOUS snake that was there. My favorite exhibit was the koala bears, they were perched up on their trees looking very zen and cuddly.

The botanical garden was very opulent and well labeled, there wasn't a plant that didn't have a name! There was a play ground area there as well as at the main part of the zoo for kids to run off some more steam. 
It's everything that a zoo should be, and it's clean and well maintained with changing areas in the bathrooms for the little ones. The food there wasn't very appetizing, and quite pricey so we were glad we brought a lunch to eat.
Riverbanks Zoo: www.riverbanks.org

Cost: 12+ $11.75, 3-12 $9.25, under 3 free. We joined the WNC (http://www.wildwnc.org/become-a-member/become-a-member) for a family membership costing $62, which has reciprocal privileges at the Riverbanks Zoo and 275+ other museums and zoos around the country, so we paid nothing that day. Discovery Place (not kids) is also a reciprocal museum in Charlotte.

Don't Miss:
  • Animal feedings (giraffe, bird, gorilla)
Momma Tip: Pack a lunch to bring as well as drinks, there are tables in several areas to eat


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