Whenever I pack up my two-year-old for a daytime adventure, I get excited knowing it will be a day full of relaxation and cooperation…. Said no parent ever.
Instead, it takes about an hour to even get out the door. Snacks? Check. Diaper changed? Check. That day’s favorite mound of toys? Help. There are enough variables trying to get kids out the door, and then once again when you reach your destination!
That’s why I have put together a guide to one of our favorite local spots – The Elmwood Park Zoo in Norristown.
Elmwood Park Zoo is open seven days a week, from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Parking is extremely convenient and free! There is a bottom lot near the main entrance, as well as an upper-level parking lot with a ramp from the lot to the zoo for strollers and wheelchairs.
The Elmwood Park Zoo has been a godsend to our family. There is no way we would make it all the way through the Philly Zoo with a toddler, as great of a place as it is.
Elmwood Park Zoo is manageable and not overwhelming for little ones – plus it is located right in Norristown, which is such a central location in the Montgomery County area. The zoo has a ton of activities for kids of all ages, and still has a wide variety of amazing species to visit.
Upon entering Elmwood Park Zoo, there are snack vendors and restrooms to make sure you start your day off on a good foot. A promise to visit the gift shop at the exit in exchange for good behavior and you are ready.
Here is my list of must-dos for kids.
This is an activity your kids will love! For a $4 purchase near the entrance, you can feed the tallest mammals in the world! Feedings are at 10:15 a.m., 12 p.m., 1:45 p.m., and 3:30 p.m. and open for about 45 minutes to one hour. Make sure you get there a few minutes early to beat the line! This is definitely a family favorite at Elmwood Park Zoo.
Take a quick walk through the barn and visit some goats and sheep. You can even pet and feed them! Once you walk through, you have the option of going to the outdoor pen to see the chickens and some roaming animals. The line moves quickly, and while you wait you can say hello to the chatty Barn Owls (or as my daughter calls them, Hoo-Hoo’s). Bonus: There is stroller parking right out front and handwashing stations throughout the barn.
Rides and Playgrounds
Kids love the Butterfly Train, which takes them on a caterpillar ride through the transition of becoming a butterfly!
After their ride, they can let out some energy at the Thomas Kimmel Playground, located directly across from the train. Also located right around the corner is the famous animal-themed carousel!
Food and Drink
Food vendors are conveniently located throughout the park. Grab some ice cream at Petrucci’s after your carousel ride, or a bite at the Treetop Café. Mom and Dad, don’t forget to stop at the Zoo Brew Beer Garden… You’ve earned it!
There are over one hundred species of exotic and endangered animals at Elmwood Park Zoo to visit. Some of our favorites are the jaguars, the otters, the red pandas, and the howler monkeys. These guys always seem to be out to play and love to put on a show!
For your older kids, there is an awesome ziplining course and games that take place fifty feet above the ground, over the actual animal exhibits! Kids under fifteen must be accompanied by an adult with reservations made online beforehand. Treetop Adventures are also great for adult team building exercises.
There are a ton of weekend and seasonal events that take place at Elmwood Park Zoo. Purchase your tickets in advance for Breakfast with Giraffes, Zoo Revue (live music), and Yappy Hours (BYO-Dog?) at the beer garden.
One of our favorite events is “Boo at the Zoo,” which happens throughout the month of October. You and your littles can dress up as your favorite zoo animals as you tour them in real life! Of course, zombies and princesses are also welcomed.
“Beast of a Feast” is another fantastic event featuring local restaurants and entertainment. Tickets are currently available online for the October 7th event.
Elmwood Park Zoo has really gone above and beyond to keep a clean and safe space for families to spend their time. If you don’t have a yearly membership, you can easily purchase daily tickets online.
Reservations are spaced out to keep the zoo enjoyable and crowds manageable. It is great to know that you can squeeze in an hour before naptime or spend the day there exploring all 16 acres and a variety of animals.
We can’t wait to see what other great activities the Elmwood Park Zoo comes up with next!
To Purchase Tickets Online: https://www.elmwoodparkzoo.org/safe-visit/
Directions to Elmwood Park Zoo at 1661 Harding Blvd, Norristown, PA 19401
FROM THE PA TURNPIKE/POINTS EAST (I-276)
Travel on I-276 W toward Harrisburg. Take exit 20 to merge onto I-476 S toward Philadelphia/Chester. After 1.7 miles take exit 18 toward Norristown. Merge onto W Ridge Pike and travel 1.3 miles. Turn right onto Fairfield Road. After .5 miles continue onto E Fornance Street. Travel 1.5 miles and turn right onto Harding Blvd. The zoo entrance will be on the left.
From the King of Prussia Mall Via 202 N
Travel on US-202 N toward Norristown for 3.1 miles. Take Markley St., and after .09 miles make a slight right to continue on Markley St. Continue onto Coolidge Blvd for 0.5 miles to reach your destination straight ahead.
Entrance to the Elmwood Park Zoo is located at the junction of Harding Boulevard and Chain Street, across from the baseball fields connected to the Eisenhower Middle School.
*Please Note: A portion of 202 N/Markley Street in Norristown is closed for construction. Detour routes around the closure are available. Follow posted signs or refer to the suggested routes listed on the zoo’s website.