Seattle Museums With Kids – Woodland Park Zoo

Around this time of year in Seattle, I start to run out of parks where Julia will willingly go down the rain-drenched slide or coffee shops where she can improve her immune function by licking all the shared toys. That’s when we turn to the wealth of museums available in the Pacific Northwest. I plan to do a series of posts with each focusing on a local museum (we still have many yet to explore). Starting off the series is our old time favorite, the Woodland Park Zoo.

We became zoo members when Julia was less than a month old. Like many things you do with young kids, it wasn’t because I thought she would remember seeing a giraffe at that age, but because I wanted to visit a beautiful place regularly without feeling like I had to stay all day to make it worth the price of admission.

Julia Joins The Zoo
The littlest zoo member on the day we joined, just before her 1 month birthday

At first, it was a great place to practice breastfeeding in public on a quiet weekday while I was on maternity leave (an orangutan thought we were pretty fascinating with our tangle of covers), or to take non-strenuous walks while I recovered from childbirth. Since then, it has developed into our default destination when I have an afternoon with her. There are ample places to get her wiggles out (even outside of the popular Zoomazium) and viewing areas that feel less like a goldfish bowl and more like an invitation into the animals’ homes. Baby animals are born regularly and Julia loves to visit and watch them grow. Her current favorites are Aibek, the snow leopard cub (she can actually pronounce his name and it’s heart melting), and Yola, the gorilla infant that was born about 4 months before her. The zoo is also one of the few largely outdoor spaces that is still easy to visit on a rainy or cold day because there are evenly spaced retreats from the weather.  Oh, and did I mention you can bring your own food so you don’t have to rely on overly priced chicken tenders when the hangries inevitably kick in (it’s okay if you’re the hangry one)?

I also feel like the zoo has offered the best value of all of the memberships we have. Julia is still free because she’s less than two, so we have a named membership ($49/year) and a flex guest ($69/year) that allows Peter or an adult visitor to come with me or take Julia on their own. I can also bring two extra guests for 50% off. Every year there’s a Black Friday code to save $15 that we’ve now applied twice, and they also offer coupons for advanced purchase WildLights tickets.

Julia WildLights 2017
Julia checks out the butterfly garden display at WildLights 2017

The zoo offers a number of different “extra” activities, but so far we’ve only taken advantage of WildLights, which is their annual after hours holiday light display that makes an excellent stop for out of town guests. We did also get early admission to the new butterfly garden when it opened last year around Mother’s Day. We still plan to someday take advantage of ZooTunes and the Member Appreciation Night, but those may need to take up another post!

What are your favorite zoo animals? Are there Seattle museums you would like to see reviewed for kid-friendly status?