Pro Tips for Having a Great Day at the Houston Zoo

Updated April 2024

One of my favorite family friendly attractions to visit in Houston is the beloved Houston Zoo. Find us there several times throughout the year among the weekend crowds, the field trips, and on the rare occasions we are one of the few people there! Find us for Boo and the Zoo or gazing at the beautiful Christmas lights. Any time of the year is a great time to take a visit to the zoo. Considering we’ve ventured out a time (or twenty), here are some things to know before you go!

Before You Go

  • family stands at fence looking at giraffes at the Houston ZooGet a Zoo Membership.  At $30 per adult/$25 per kid, a day at the zoo can be a pricey adventure.  That’s why I have been a proud Houston Zoo member for the last 3 years.  A membership pays for itself in as little as 2 visits. Memberships start at $150 and guest can find the best valued membership at $299 per year. If the membership is too much, ask for it as a gift.  Grandparents and loved ones LOVE giving gifts that keep on giving (and for goodness sakes you know your kid has too many toys anyway).  Having a membership makes the zoo trip “free” and takes so much stress off of trying to do ALL the things.  As an added bonus, being a zoo member comes with perks throughout the year! If you are visiting from out of town and want to visit the Houston Zoo definitely check out the reciprocity program.  We’ve taken advantage of it in other cities and its a great way to save some money and visit new places.
  • Bring a backpack.  This is basically a requirement! A backpack at the zoo will make the experience much easier (especially if juggling multiple littles). I keep my backpack stocked with lots of snacks, water bottles for everyone, first aid supplies, sunscreen, hat, change of clothes, bug spray, and any medical supplies you or your kiddos might need. Food and drinks at the zoo can add up quick so we often bring our own lunch and save our money for the carousel, feeding the giraffes, and the train outside the zoo grounds!
  • If you have littles, this tip is for you.  Bring a stroller.  Or a wagon. Or some other mode of transportation for your kids, because when they get tired (when, not if) you will be at the absolute farthest point from the entrance. Even those kids who claim they want to walk, they wont! Take my word on this.
  • Timing is key! The Zoo is a busy attraction, and for good reason! However, this can bring about the biggest downfall of the experience–parking can be STRESSFUL. Getting there about 15 minutes before it opens is a good idea, but know parking far away from the entrance is likely. I’ve found waiting until later in the day is a good idea when the weather allows because parking seems more manageable then. From experience, the hours between 10-12 are the busiest times in the parking lot, so just know that before planning your trip!

While At the Houston Zoo

  • map of Houston ZooGrab a map.  Heck grab a few maps.  My kids love deciding where we go next, and it’s a great learning experience for them to read the map and tell us which direction to head.  Also on the map is the daily schedule which includes so many amazing things like zookeeper talks, times and places to see the zoos ambassador animals, and fun events that are happening around the zoo!
  • Extras worth the splurge: A few extras that are a fun experience are the carousel, the giraffe feeding, and the train ride! From March -September, there is a Dinosaur exhibit for an extra $6 per ticket, or combine with a carousel ticket for $9.95 per ticket. A carousel ticket alone cost $5. Giraffe feedings happen only a few times per day, so be sure to look into the time of feeding opportunities if that is something your crew wants to do!
  • If it’s hot check out the indoor exhibits.  The zoo has air conditioned exhibits (yes, AIR CONDITIONED) scattered throughout the zoo that house some of the coolest animals.  The reptile and amphibian house is always a hit with my boys, as well as the natural encounters exhibit located nearby. The Galapagos Island exhibit might have a line to enter, but trust me when I say it’s worth the wait! It is so well done and you’ll be gifted with ample AC! It’s probably our favorite exhibit in the whole zoo!
  • Make a stop at the Children’s Zoo.  For when you need a break–the Children’s Zoo has a fenced in playground and is surrounded by smaller exhibits and a petting zoo!

What are your favorite things to see and do at the Houston Zoo?  Leave us a comment!

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Becca Vidrine
Becca is a small-town {and likely barefoot} Louisiana girl who’s journey to Texas was unexpected to say the least. After getting her Masters in Social Work from LSU, she spent a few years working in mental health before she found her true social work love in hospice care. Not long after getting hitched to the best guy she knows, Becca and her husband welcomed their full of life red headed son {2018} and they now refer to themselves as “the big 3”! Fast forward to early 2021 when Becca was diagnosed with something that changed their lives forever and so, they picked up and headed west. What was supposed to be a short time in Houston for these small-town folks turned into a big city romance, a mortgage, some unexpected friendships, and a few opportunities to grow. Some might say Becca tends to err on the side of sarcasm and stubbornness. But those same people would also say that Becca is brave and compassionate. She’s a straight shooter, a little bit crunchy, and a lover of all things love. When she’s not building forts or playing pretend, you can find Becca roaming the isles at the grocery store, cooking for hours, or snuggled up with a good book. Follow her journey on Instagram at @thisblissfulpursuit.


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