8 Tips for Visiting the Toledo Zoo, Plus a Complete Toledo Zoo Review
As a Metro-Detroit native and fond member of the Detroit Zoo, I must say it’s a whole different experience at the Toledo Zoo. Side note– much appreciation to the Toledo Zoo for still honoring reciprocal membership for Detroit Zoo members. *This is an unsolicited Toledo Zoo review, and the opinions are all my own.*
One thing I love about the Toledo Zoo is that there are so many up-close viewing opportunities, which is a great advantage when visiting with little ones. However, in the three times I have visited the Toledo Zoo there have always been multiple exhibits closed. During this trip we did not get to see the polar bears since it was closing for a private event. However, I have learned that they are prompt with updating their website to detail any closures, so make sure you take a look at their site before traveling from out of town.
Here are some of our favorite viewing spots. The hippos are incredible, and children (and adults) are in awe to see them so huge and so close to the glass. Elephants are really on a 360 degree display, as you are able to observe them from viewpoints. Penguin beach is another really cool exhibit– although very small and minimal viewing area, it is exciting for the children to have the penguins not separated by glass.
Another fun part of the Toledo Zoo is what it offers children when they’re not looking at the animals. Children ca climb on giant animal statues (also make for great photo ops); play with the animal masks; explore, learn, and adventure in Nature’s Neighborhood; and run and splash around in the splash pad and playground.
We probably spent 20 minutes playing at these masks, and if the kids had their way we would have stayed in this area much longer. Another fun photo op here.
Below are some shots of the different areas in Nature’s Neighborhood. This was our first time in this exhibit, and Wow! Just WOW! This is such a cool area, and there is so much to do. You can see everything this exhibit has to offer right here. Plan on spending a lot of time here, and it’s also a great way to get the kids out of the sun for a while on super hot days.
To save the best for last, my single most favorite part of the Toledo Zoo was the aquarium. There are so many different animals to view and so many viewing angles that everyone can get a good view. The children were mesmerized!
Within the Aquarium, there are opportunities for visitors to touch the animals– yes with your hands, actually touch the animals. Some find this yucky or terrifying, but we LOVED it! First you get your feet we so-to-speak by reaching into a shallow container and touching a couple creatures. Then you get to the touch pool. I had been waiting for this one and was stoked. Come to find out, you actually get to walk along the edge of the pool, reaching and and touching animals, all the way around the pool. And if you hold your finger still in the water animals will come to you! Here we touched lots of sharks and sting rays. The kids loved it and thought it was so cool that all of the animals’ skins had different textures.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love the Detroit Zoo (clearly evidenced by the fact that we visit 10-20 times a year). But the Toledo Zoo is so different, it is definitely worth the drive to check it out!
Here are a few tips I think could make your trip even more enjoyable:
1. Check out their website the day of your visit so that you are prepared for any exhibit closures and won’t be disappointed later.
2. Bring a large cooler (on wheels) full of drinks and snacks, and if you have young children riding in a wagon or stroller bring a bungee cord. With a little mom-ingenuity, you can use the bungee cord to connect the cooler to your stroller or wagon.
3. Don’t skip the monkeys/gorillas because they’re in the back corner– you’ll want to see them and how close they get. Once they sat right against the glass staring at us, which was really cool.
4. The parking lot is long, so arrive early or you could have to walk quite a ways.
5. Checkout all of the rooms/areas in Nature’s Neighborhood. Every area offers something completely different. The last room has free DIY face painting; however, you could get stuck waiting a while here so this is a spot you could skip.
6. If there is a line for the touching pool, just wait in it. I promise you don’t want to miss that part.
7. The zoo offers rentals, so if you’re traveling from out of town you can save space in your vehicle by not bringing yours along and just renting one.
8. Plan on spending the day here. There is plenty to do and see, you’ll want to make a day of it.
And last but not least, enjoy your trip!