Friday, October 28, 2011

The Fort Worth Zoo and Other Low-Cost Family Daytrips

Fort Worth Zoo Gorilla - Zachariah Barton Photos

The cost of a family vacation has become prohibitive for my families. Airfare, and food and lodging has risen while many income levels have dropped. Does that mean we all have to forgo family vacations altogether? Not when there are plenty of low-cost day trips available.

Regardless of what area of the country you’re located, there’s bound to be a botanic garden, zoo, aquarium or several museums. These local destinations provide a full day of education, entertainment and activity for all family members.

The Fort Worth Zoo

Zoos are not what they once were. Gone are the days where animals are kept in small cages and in environments that don’t even remotely resemble their natural habitat. Over the years, many zoological associations and societies have recognized the fact that attendance at zoos was declining. This caused them to make great strides to improve and add to old and outdated facilities. The result is a greater number of animals, more permanent exhibits and an increase in visitor amenities.

For example, the Fort Worth Zoo, in North Texas, boasts a collection of 519 species of animals, of which 42 are currently on the endangered species list. With 12 permanent exhibit areas, Penguins, World of Primates, Asian Falls, Raptor Canyon, Cheetahs, Flamingo Bay, Meerkat Mounds, Australian Outback, African Savannah, Parrot Paradise, Texas Wild! and the Museum of Living Art, there’s an abundance of animals available to entertain and educate. The on site carousel, miniature railroad train, and old west town provides additional fun for all ages. Admission fees vary among zoos, but are almost always reasonably and affordably priced. Several zoos offer a weekly half-price day.

Botanic Gardens

Botanic gardens are a sometimes overlooked family day trip destination. Tucked inside many U.S. cities, these natural wonders offer visitors the opportunity to walk among exotic and domestic foliage. Taking along a picnic lunch cuts down on the cost of stopping for a meal. Most botanic gardens admission fees are under $5 and often free for children.

In Chilly Weather and Colder Climates

Not all parts of the country are as warm as the southwest, but there are other opportunities for family activities. Aquariums and museums provide an inexpensive day of family fun in cold climates and winter weather. Many larger cities have children’s museums where hands-on learning is encouraged. Parents can often relax and sit nearby while little ones experiment in water and sand exhibits.

Most of these places are open year-round. Many of them offer special exhibits and discounts at holiday time and have websites that can be easily accessed. Parents and caregivers can easily refer to the facility website to check times, dates, special attractions and admission fees. Planning a family day trip or mini-vacation can be just a click away.

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