Tips, deals, and advice on traveling the continent on a budget.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Summer Travel and Family Fun at Henry Vilas Zoo

The Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison, Wisconsin is the perfect zoo experience that takes just several hours, great for families with young children or anyone else looking to take a short walk on the wild side . Admission is free, as is parking, but there are only two lots and they fill up fast. Street parking is available.

The zoo is easy to navigate on a circular path. The majority of the exhibits are outside. Three indoor exhibits (Tropical Rain Forest Aviary, Discovering Primates and the Herpetarium) allow further walk throughs in the animals more natural habitats.

The carousel began spinning as of last year. As part of the new addition in progress, the Children's Zoo, rides are $1.00 per person. Adults are free when accompanying children under 42 inches tall. Check out the Wisconsin scenes on the top panels of the ride!

The gift shop, open March through November has animal themed souvenirs from clothing, stuffed animals, pencils, jewelry, postcards, games, toys, crafts –plenty to catch a young person's fancy. Strollers, wagons, and wheelchairs may be rented here for $4.00 plus a driver's license. There is an ATM inside.

With plenty of picnic tables and grassy areas to spread a blanket, bringing lunch and snacks is very popular. Just remember to pick up when done. The concession stand is open April through November and has snacks, hot sandwiches, pop and ice cream. Everything is ala carte with prices from $1.99-$2.99 per item. Outside vending machines with pop and water are located in several areas.

The Zoo is open year round. Grounds are open 9:30 am to 5:00 pm as are the concessions and gift shop during the months they are open. Buildings are open 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. Again, admission and parking are free but donations are gladly accepted. For more information visit www.

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