A very good friend of mine was quite involved in the building of this new exhibit at the Minnesota Zoo and she was kind enough to invite us up for the preview before it opened to the public.
As she gave us a guided tour we were able to see how much thought went in to making this an interactive experience. The exhibit is filled with rock formations perfect for climbing and viewing the animals, caves to explore, dinosaur bones to dig, bubbling mud and geysers. It’s wonderful.
Let’s begin with the sculpture directly outside the exhibit:
What child wouldn’t want to run right in to those fountains and hug a bear or climb the rocks? And that’s just what it’s there for… a refreshing way to cool off on a hot day. (Don’t believe me? They sell swim diapers in the gift shop next door.) So be sure to bring a change of clothing. (Of course it isn’t quite so fun when it’s chilly out!)
As you enter the exhibit through tunnels be sure to stop and check out the topographical sign. It’s magnificent (and I’m not just saying that because my friend made it).
It really gives you a great idea of the region you are “seeing” and the native homes of these animals.
Throughout the exhibit you will notice the “rock” ledges that are just right for climbing up to see the animals. And lots of information about the history of the region. Not to mention tons of photo opps!
The geysers and bubbling mud are fascinating and digging for dinosaur bones is great fun! (Don’t worry, the “bones” are steel, the kids can’t hurt them!)
My favorite, by far, was the sea otters. They just seem like such fun, playful critters. Take a little zoo tour with the video below. The close up of the grizzly is awesome.
In addition to this great exhibit you can also visit: Discovery Bay- touch a shark or a ray in the estuary exhibit and view sea life “underwater” Minnesota Trail- it’s a walk through the north woods filled with gray wolves, coyotes and river otters Northern Trail- a wooded trail with tigers, caribou, moose, Sichuan takin, camel, and Asian wild horses. It’s back this way that you will also find a great play area.
Tropics Trail- Lemurs and Gibbons fill the trees Family Farm- cows and pigs and goats. It’s like being on a “real” farm. The Minnesota Zoo is huge – it’s an all day event! Be sure to bring your walking shoes! But if you get tired there is a monorail that provides a “tree top tour” of the Northern Trail for $4 per person. Kids love the train and it’s a great break for your tired feet!
Other things that are good to know:
- There are 9 restrooms/diaper changing areas located throughout the park.
- There are also 3 family restrooms.
- One nursing area is available in the Minnesota Trail restroom.
- There are 5 ATMs.
- Strollers and wheelchairs can be rented.
- If you get hungry
- There are two lakeside picnic areas outside the zoo if you want to pack a lunch
- Grizzly Coast Cafe has ethnic Russian foods as well as “zoo food” like hot dogs and hamburgers
- Call of the Wild has Asian entrees, grilled foods, salads, sandwiches and pizza
- Zoo Cafe features Caribou coffee, bakery items and ice cream
- Tiger Treats has subs, salads, pizza, ice cream and cold beer
- Family Farm House has home-cooked “farm” meals
- GIfts & Other Goodies
- Timber Lodge Traders is the “main” gift shop. Everything is here. They even have a “build a zoo animal” similar to Build a Bear
- Water Works Market has all your aquatic goodies
- Central Plaza Gifts has Grizzly Coast souveniers as well as necessities like hats, sunscreen and cameras
- You can even get an airbrushed tattoo.
- You can find information on admission, opening times and directions by clicking this link.
We can’t wait to make a return trip and see more! (Many exhibits were closed the night we visited as the focus was on the new exhibit.)
If you’re making a trip to visit the zoo (really a great midwest trip) you might be interested in these articles:
Residence Inn close by in Eagan, MN- a great place to stay with kids
Cossetta’s Italian Market- a must if you are in St. Paul
California Cafe- you’ll be so close to the Mall of America, you’ll surely be visiting. This is, in my opinion, the best place to eat if you’re there.
Also be sure to click the category archives to the left for more info on Minneapolis, St. Paul and Minnesota.