The best thing about moving to a new place is learning to explore your new hometown. Our family recently had a chance to visit the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory in St. Paul, Minnesota on a warm spring weekend.
The Zoo is a free admission zoo, and is located near the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. Just because it is donation only admission, don’t count this park and conservatory out. It’s a great day of fun for the entire family.
The zoo started as a project by Frederick Nussbaumer the superintendent of parks from 1891 to 1922. He wanted to create a great outdoor space for the people of the Twin Cities to enjoy. Now a hundred years later, thousands of families visit the zoo every year.
When you first visit the zoo, make sure to take advantage of the free shuttle service near the fairgrounds. We were able to park there and catch the shuttle. Because it was the first warm day of the season, the zoo was overwhelming packed as far as parking. It’s free to park in the shuttle lot, and who doesn’t want to ride on a cool leopard painted bus.
Home to hundreds of great species including lions, polar bears, monkeys, and Galapagos tortoises, it is easy to spend all day at the park with your family and all the creatures that call the zoo home. It was definitely beneficial to grab a map, so you could figure out what you wanted to see. There are also lots of great maps and directions located within the park as well.
During our visit, our family really enjoyed all the great interactive stations that are offered throughout the exhibits. You can learn more about the animals, where they come from, what they eat, and where they are on the endangered species lists.
When you first visit the zoo, our family highly suggests checking out the monkey house! It’s warm and tropical and full of really animated species of monkeys, orangutans, and apes. This is definitely a zoo favorite so be prepared for larger crowds, but it’s definitely worth the wait!
After you walk around for a bit, enjoy some refreshment at one of the many snack carts located in the park. My youngest loved the one that was in the shape of a hippo. It was a neat twist to the typical treat cart at most zoos.
Once you make the rounds to all the great exhibits at the zoo, don’t forget to head over to the conservatory! Each season the greenhouses offer amazing flora to feast your eyes on. During our visit it was the last day of the spring flower show, and it was absolutely amazing. Tulips and hyacinth for as far as the eye can see. The floral perfumes wafting through the air were just what this girl needed after a very long winter.
Connected to the conservatory is the new Japanese gardens as well. The Charlotte Patridge Japanese Gardens are something you definitely don’t want to miss. You can wind your way through beautiful ponds, bonsai trees, and Japanese statuary, or just sit and enjoy the serenity that these great gardens offer. It’s a little off the beaten path so it’s a nice place to unwind away from the big crowds from the zoo.
The final stop on our visit to Como Park was of course to the gift shop. They had a great selection of Como Zoo gear, plus tons of educational books and toys as well. I found this really neat dragonfly wind chime that was really hard not to take home with me, but alas I saved it for another trip to the zoo. It’s definitely worth checking out for a souvenir for your trip home or something to teach your kids about their favorite animals.
If you are visiting the Twin Cities, Como Park and Zoo is definitely a place you should add to your list! The zoo is open year round, and a great frugal way to enjoy your Minneapolis vacation.
To learn more about Como Park and Zoo, make sure to visit their website at http://www.comozooconservatory.org/
What are you looking forward to seeing at the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory?
Love this travel post? Check out other great things to do and see in the Minneapolis/St Paul area:
- Things to Do in Minneapolis
- 10 Tips to Make the Most of your Mall of America Vacation
- Places to Stay in Minneapolis: Best Western Dakota Ridge
Disclosure: This is NOT a paid post. I just visited the zoo and really wanted to share for others to find out more about this great attraction.