What you need to know before venturing to the quaint zoo in Bloomington
Whether you want to walk among the wallabies or hear a tiger roar up close and personal, you can surprise the kids with a day at the zoo without driving more than an hour from Champaign-Urbana. A popular field trip destination and perfectly sized for the youngest animal lovers, we offer 10 things you’ll want to know before heading to Miller Park Zoo in Bloomington.
Note: Due to COVID-19, some public attractions may be closed or operating under restrictions. Please check the website or social media for Miller Park Zoo before planning your trip, and be aware of any safety protocols or travel restrictions currently in effect.
- Animal feedings are a big draw here. Catch the schedule on your way in and plan your visit around the scheduled feedings.
- There are some BIG animals here for a zoo outside of a major city. Go find the resident tiger, red pandas, snow leopards, and alligator.
- The zoo is open year-round. How awesome is that? They’re closed on major holidays but they’re open every day otherwise. (Check here for hours)
- New amenities at the zoo include an expanded concessions menu. You can bring in your own food in coolers if you’d like, too.
- The carousel is the “extra” you’ll find at the zoo. Pick up your tokens on the way in and just know that carousel operation depends on staff availability and other factors.
- Pack some hand sanitizer! It’s a zoo after all. You may be able to pet goats or touch other animals while you’re visiting the zoo, so might as well be prepared.
- Don’t skip the Wallaby WalkAbout. It’s a great reason to remind everyone to be quiet and see some (big!) animals up close. Our kids ask to walk through a couple of times each time we visit.
- Check the schedule for sensory-friendly events happening at the zoo. Miller Park Zoo is the first certified sensory friendly zoo in the state of Illinois. Visitors can enjoy a sensory friendly experience any day of the year, but sensory friendly special events will give families an opportunity to learn about the most sensory friendly areas of the zoo and ask zoo staff questions about making the most of their outing with their children.
Make an (even longer) Day Trip: Other Attractions to Consider in Bloomington-Normal
- There’s an awesome playground and splash pad right outside the zoo. You can also play mini-golf or rent a paddleboat at Miller Park for an extra fee during the warmer months.
- Want to make a longer day of it? Visit the Children’s Discovery Museum before or after the zoo. There’s about a four-mile distance between the zoo and the museum.
- Consider membership! There are a number of different options, including memberships that include grandparents or allow you to “extend” your membership by being able to bring in several visitors with you outside of your family each time you visit. Visiting just a handful of times during the summer pays for a membership, and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) has a reciprocity program you may be able to utilize in visiting other zoos around the country.
Looking for more about our favorite zoos and places to see animals near Champaign-Urbana?
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