by Rachael McMillan
Our family mini-vacation to Indianapolis this summer was a huge hit with the kids (did you know there are HOTELS there? With swimming pools inside?). Ever since, we’ve been planning our return visit — sort of a booster trip to help us get through the winter.
We’ve especially wanted to return to the Indianapolis Zoo, having never been to one when the temperature has dipped below 65 degrees — more often than not the thermometer is kissing 95 when we decide to visit. Last weekend we went, with temps firmly in the slushy, freezy high 30s.
Here, in reverse order, are the advantages and disadvantages of going to the Indianapolis Zoo in the wintertime, with a bonus “toss-up” category. You decide whether those items are really pros or cons.
- All of the aquatic animals and (understandably) the polar bear are in full form in the wintertime, but, as you’d expect, fewer animals are out in the cold weather. (Relax, all you Monkey Junkies—you can still get your fix.) On our visit, in addition to some baboons, only flamingos, a pack of wild dogs, and two lions were in their outdoor habitats.
- Of course, the weather was a disadvantage. Having said that, with our tendency to visit on days that are too hot, we’re pretty used to seeking shelter indoors on our trips to the zoo.
- When we went last summer, we didn’t make it much past the polar bear/aquatic animals anyway. They’re our favorites.
- In the summer, we had to get tickets for the dolphin show—not necessary this time around. We strolled in as the show was beginning and still got pretty good seats.
- The exhibits were much less crowded, which was nice. Usually a trip to the zoo involves a lot of admonishments to “let someone else look”—again, not necessary this visit. We lingered at the shark pool and the penguin habitat as long as we liked.
- Admission prices are also much lower right now: $6 less per adult ticket and $3 less per child ticket through March 18. Tickets are good for the zoo and the adjacent White River Gardens, which we didn’t visit but is featuring a Tropical Adventure as an enticement to the winter-weary.
- No rides or outdoor restaurants are open now, but Cafe on the Commons is serving food and the gift shop is most definitely open for business.
- You can still sit in the Splash Zone at the dolphin show in the winter; in fact, it’s MUCH less crowded. I wish we had thought to bring ponchos.
Overall, I’d say our winter visit was a big hit. If you’re also in need of some face time with awesome animals, the timing has never been better.
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