Some things in life are free, like smiles, hugs, wildflowers, oh, and Como Park Zoo and Conservatory in the Twin Cities, Minnesota. That’s right, a free zoo — and a great one at that. Last weekend I packed a lunch, loaded up my two kids and off to the St. Paul zoo we went. Como Zoo and Conservatory gently requests a donation at the entries (they recommend $1 for kids and $2 for adults), if you’re in the position to donate.
We really enjoyed the day and I’d like to offer you some tips if you have plans to visit this lovely area.
1. Parking. I had heard parking could be a pain here and it was at first (no surprise, since we saw three weddings throughout Como Park). We finally found a spot with the help of a park attendant and then we had a bit of a hike that we didn’t mind. If a close parking place is important to you, get there early.
2. Stroller. Long walks are not for my girl. Like any zoo, there is a lot of walking to be done. So if your kids wear-out easily bring the stroller or wagon (part of the reason we didn’t mind the hike to and from the car). Which brings me to…
3. Door holder. Due to the cold climate up here many, if not most, of the exhibits at Como Park Zoo and Conservatory are indoors. The problem is that the doors are not automatic (I think we only came across one automatic door which was by the felines). A few people helped us out, but most people had a stroller of their own to struggle with. If you have an older child or spouse to help with doors, great. Otherwise, simply ask for help from fellow zoo-goers (the people up here are very friendly).
4. Bees. When we sat at the picnic table I noticed bees buzzing around the other tables, but not ours. The reason: we brought waters to drink with our lunch, but the other tables had sugary sodas which were attracting the bees. It wasn’t until my son unwrapped his PB&J sandwich that the bees became interested in our table. If you have a child with a bee allergy you may want to keep this in mind.
5. Rides. Como Town, located inside the zoo, is a seasonal amusement park. You can purchase ride tickets, and honestly, it’s not that expensive. If it’s a warm day there is a mister section to cool off you and the kids. As for the huge playground in the middle, be prepared to fork over four tickets — I told my son we’d play there next time, but we did ride the tea cups they rode the race car carousel for two tickets.
You likely won’t be disappointed when you visit the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory with young children. If you know of any other free or inexpensive Twin Cities attractions, please let me know. We’re having a blast exploring our new region – especially the free attractions.