Friday, May 7, 2010

Weekend Warriors: Omaha Daycations: Henry Doorly Zoo

I intend for this series of posts to give suggestions of good day trips you can make in and around Omaha with your family. Hopefully it will give some good ideas of things to do close to home for local readers (and for those of you visiting Omaha, it might give you some ideas of what to do while you are here).

I cannot possibly do a series of posts about daycations/staycations without starting with probably the most popular Omaha destination: The Henry Doorly Zoo. I am not really a zoo person, or an animal person at all, but even I can appreciate that this is a must see in Omaha. It is an incredible zoo-one of the best in the world as far as I am concerned. And it is huge!! You can EASILY spend all day there and still not see it all.

There are a number of outdoor exhibits, but many of the exhibits are indoor-so you can go and enjoy the zoo anytime, snow or shine! In fact in the middle of the HUGE snow storms this winter, when the kids were out of school for days and days on end of snow days, I braved the roads and we went to the zoo and had a great time in the heat of the Desert Dome and the Rainforest.

Speaking of the Desert Dome, here are just a few of the attractions you will find at our great zoo:
  • Desert Dome
  • Rainforest
  • Aquarium
  • Nursery
  • Cat Complex
  • Gorilla Valley
  • (Opened Today!!) Madagascar exhibit!
See the complete list here.

Now lets talk a bit about cost. It can get pretty costly at the zoo here which is why I recommend making a full day of it.  There is a ton to see and I believe it is worth the cost, but only if you are going to make a "daycation" out of it.  Pack up a cooler and plan to picnic there. There are plenty of places to stop and eat. 

If you are a local, or plan to come to the zoo with your family more than one day in a year, I would HIGHLY recommend getting a year pass. They always go from May through April, so buy yours in May so you get the WHOLE year in. Usually some time in April the zoo will send members a form with which you can renew your pass at a discounted rate for the following year. After a certain date it is more. I did not renew mine yet this year and got a letter yesterday saying if I renew by May 18, I can still get the family pass for $78, after that it will be $88.

That being said, lets do some math.  Admission for adults and children 12 and older is $11.50, Seniors (over 62) are $10, Children 3-11 are $7.75, and Children 2 and under are free.  I have a family of 6: 2 adults ($11.50), 3 children ($7.75), and one FREE child. So, for us to go one day would be $46.25.   If I go to the zoo only 2 times with my family this year without a pass, that is  $92.50. So, you can see that the annual family pass for us is a no brainer. Even if we were just visiting Omaha and thought we might return to the zoo once more that year, I would get the pass. Just my advice for families like ours.  Do the math with your family and figure out if the pass is worth your while to purchase!

If you live out of Omaha, and happen to have a zoo pass to a "reciprocal zoo", you can get in for a discounted price. With your reciprocal zoo pass, children 2 and under are still FREE, Children (ages 3 - 11)  are $3.75, Adults (ages 12 and over)  are $5.75, and Seniors (ages 62 and over) $5.00.  That's a pretty good discount! The zoo also offers discounts for big groups (over 40). You can see the details for those discounts here.

The Henry Doorly Zoo is a great way to spend a day in Omaha and I highly recommend it! Plan ahead, pack up for the day, bring a cooler of food, and go enjoy this beautiful Omaha site!

**The picture above is one I took at the zoo last summer. Beautiful, right?!