I have a tip for you!
We were gifted a membership to the Buffalo Zoo for Christmas the past couple of years, and with our membership we get free or reduced admission to tons of other zoos. If you have a zoo membership to many other locations in the Northeast, they'll offer you the same deal - I highly recommend taking advantage of it! (Also, asking for a zoo membership for Christmas from Grandparents is a great way to avoid getting TOO many toys and also have a way to make great family memories all year!) It was really cool to see a new zoo, and they had lots of animals that our zoo doesn't have. Plus, with it being a new place, it was extra-exciting for the kids to get their grubby hands on everything for the first time. ;)
Almost exactly a year ago, my family and I took a quick trip to Syracuse, NY to take advantage of our zoo discount and to visit my sister and her family. They actually just moved back to the Buffalo area recently, but had been living there for a few years. It worked out perfectly!
So on a Friday evening, we loaded the crew in the van and made our way across the state.
The next morning, we went to the zoo bright & early. We ended up getting my entire family in for only $10 - which was awesome! (See? Pack snacks and drinks, and you've got one heck of a cheap family outing!!)
I was expecting this zoo to be really small and not as nice as the Buffalo Zoo (as I've heard from many that Buffalo is the best zoo in Western & Central NY), but I was pleasantly surprised! They did a lot of recent renovating, and it was really cute there!
The first thing we saw was a big octopus - the kids loved it!
We followed the twisting hallways and saw meerkats, lemurs, fish, snakes, and all kinds of monkeys. Their lion den was even visible through a hallway, and we found ourselves separated from a massive male lion by only a sheet of glass! It was so crazy to be that close and see him so well - I don't think I've ever been that close to a lion before!! (Coincidentally, I wasn't able to get a good picture because there was a bad glare due to the glass - oh well!)
Some necessary goofy picture posing ;)
We saw lots of birds (big and small), tigers, elephants and farm animals (like pigs, chickens, and ponies) before we got some lunch in the zoo's cafe - which was yummy!
Our "Zoovenirs"...haha ;)
They had a great little gift shop, and since this trip counted as a family vacation, I let them all pick out a small souvenir. I was wearing the baby through our whole trip, and as we walked passed a little display of squirty bath toys in all different animals, he reached out and grabbed a lion! I tried to put it back, and even show him some of the other animals, but he insisted on that little lion! I'd never seen him show a preference for something like that before, so that had to be his little toy! The big boys each picked out a Jeep toy, and I picked out a magnet for our fridge.
Jenn is a mom of 3 boys living near Buffalo, NY, and blogs about her life and hobbies on her blog, Rych In Love.