Prior to this weekend’s trip, my only experience “visiting” Fort Wayne has consisted of flying by it as I drove along I-69 on my way to other places. What a shame, because as I learned during a quick overnight trip this weekend that it has so much to offer visitors, particularly those with young children.
Our first stop was the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo. Who knew Fort Wayne was home to one of the nation’s best zoos for kids? I certainly didn’t, but after a few hours there, I was convinced that Parents magazine was right when they included it on their list.
A trip to a zoo can be an expensive outing for families, and after a summer full of fun, perhaps you feel a trip to the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo is out of your budget. Let me try to convince you otherwise with some ways to save while still having a blast.
First, from now until September 15, members of the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis can visit the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo absolutely free of charge. And vice versa, if you’re a member of the zoo, pop down to Indy for a visit to the Children’s Museum and maximize your membership perks!
Second, consider a membership. Even if you can’t head to the Children’s Museum in the next month, a membership at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo pays for itself in less than 3 visits for a family of four. And you’ll receive discounts to more than 150 other zoos around the country with your membership.
Free parking. Parking at this zoo is free of charge.
Visit Monday, August 29 and ride for $1. Rides are a special treat at this zoo. We personally loved the views from the Sky Safari, my son is still talking about the train ride, and floating down the River Ride, where we could practically touch the kangaroos, was the perfect way to cap off our visit to the “Australia” section of the zoo. There’s also a carousel and pony rides.
Buy a ride pass. If you can’t visit on Monday, then I recommend getting a $20 ride pass. With it, you get 12 rides for the price of 10, saving you $4.
Take in a free show or keeper chat. We missed it because we were having too much fun walking through the mist in the Africa exhibit, but I really wanted to watch the zookeepers feed the sea lions. Experiences like this are free and can also heighten your child’s learning experience. You can see a schedule here and plan your visit around “showtimes.”
Pack a lunch. You can get your hand stamped and eat your lunch just outside the zoo entrance on the picnic tables, before heading back in for more fun. I saw many families who had packed their own coolers and water bottles to help save on the cost of drinks. If you forget, there are also concession areas all around the zoo’s facilities.
And finally, be sure to save a dollar or two to feed the giraffes. My son got face-to-face with the zoo’s new baby giraffe, and I don’t think he’ll ever forget that purple tongue coming at him!
Most importantly, consider adding the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo to your list of family fun spots to see in Indiana. I was really impressed with the quality of our experience and hope to visit again soon. If you go, tell the kangaroos I’ll be back to say hello!