July 11, 2016

A Staycation Trip to the Zoo

Since Disney and other grand vacations are out of our price range we have to keep our fun local and not too expensive. Last week I mentioned all the fishing we've been doing but we wanted to also plan a fun day trip for the kids. A few years back  Travis' mom, grandma, sister, aunt, cousin and I headed to the Niabi Zoo with my two kids. I was big and pregnant with JF and it was one of the hottest days of summer but it was so. much. fun. When the opportunity came for my family to receive some free tickets to return this summer I jumped at the chance because I knew we would enjoy the day. While the Niabi Zoo gave us the tickets for zoo entry, my mother-in-law and I purchased tickets for all other rides and the stroller rental, and I am 100% telling you the truth: it was a great day.

We started the day by feeding the kids a big breakfast and then having them pack up snack bags to eat on the way home. We knew that with our food allergies we would buy drinks at the zoo but not food, but the extra little fun of coloring a brown paper bag was exciting to them. (Which sorta boggles my mind, but it's a win for me so I'm taking it!)

The Niabi Zoo isn't a huge zoo but there was plenty to do and see. Like the giant mist-maker that delighted my kids.

And the train that circles the park. It's a great way to get your bearings and cool off a bit. JF and JP looooove trains so we had to stop and wave every time it went by. The boys also delighted in crossing the tracks occasionally and all the kids loved the ride.

But, yeah, there was a lot of this throughout the day:

Various Junior Zookeepers and other employees were stationed around the park to answer questions and talk about the animals. Everyone was super friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful. And when we were on our own L was the official keeper of the map. 

A family favorite was the pond - filled with ducks, geese, giant goldfish, and a couple of swans.

The pony rides were another hit. JP literally had to be pulled off his pony - he did not want it to end. 


We also loved the larakeets. Well, JF freaked out when one landed on his shoulder from behind and Resa was a little leery. But L loved feeding them nectar and my mother-in-law was like a magnet and loved every minute of it.

The carousel was how we ended the day and then it was back to the van for our hour drive home. The kids ate their snack bags, chatted about the day, and eventually a couple even fell asleep. Later, when I asked the kids what they liked best their answers were:
L - feeding the birds
JF - the train!!!!
Resa - the thing that went around and around and up and down (the carousel)
Jofis - the horsey ride!

My favorite part, though, was that that the grounds were lovely. It was clean, well cared for, and beautifully landscaped. I was really, really impressed with it - it was like walking through a garden.

The zoo has actually grown some since the last time I was there six years ago, and I was pleasantly surprised by the improvements. If you live within a couple hours of the Quad Cities I encourage you to take a little day trip to visit. You can learn more about the Niabi Zoo at their website, on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.  


  1. I mean, I know that I missed FYFC and that's on me. But seriously, since we go to Niabi all the time (we were just there June 30!) I feel like one of these days I am going to need to actually meet you. Glad you had so much fun! In 2 years they're adding Rhinos where the elephants were, which will be awesome!

    1. Ah! We missed each other by a week!
      I saw the sign about the rhinos - that will be so cool.

  2. Niabi zoo is a great size for a one day trip like that - you can drive in from an hour or so away easily, see everything, take your time and still be home for dinner without feeling like you wasted your money on a bunch of stuff you had to power thru.

    Hoping to get over there before the fall this year. =)

  3. The zoo has always been a favorite of mine, as a kid and as a parent. Our little zoo is probably best described as "ok" but when you are 1, 4 and 5 it is awesome. My kids' favorite is....the ducks. Eye roll, because we can see those in the ditch. But whatever, they love it!