Reston Zoo offers a unique experience that large zoos cannot compete with. My family was able to pet, feed, and play with goats, pigs, sheep, budgie birds, antelope, giraffes, and many more animals on our recent trip to the Reston Zoo, which is an experience we haven't had in all our years of visiting zoos as a family.
Reston Zoo is a 30-acre, family friendly zoo and home to several exotic wild animals. Several times I have driven past Reston Zoo on my way to the free National Zoo in Washington, D.C. and never realized what an amazing zoo I was missing just to save a few bucks.
Here are six things you should know to enjoy your visit to Reston Zoo.
1. Zoofari Wagon Ride is included in admission price.
The highlight of our zoo experience was the Zoofari wagon ride. These very tame wild animals trot over to greet the wagon and look for food as you start your wagon ride. We had up-close encounters with giraffes, llamas, buffalo, ostriches, zebras and more as our wagon meandered along. Twice along the route we stopped for photos and feeding the animals. My young children were nervous by the animals poking their heads into the wagon so we sat them on the inside, but my older kids loved holding out food cups and feeding the giraffe. Keep your camera ready on this fun ride!
2. Plan to spend a few extra dollars on animal feed.
Once you've paid your admission, be sure to buy a bottle or two and a few feeding cups to feed the animals. Most children will love giving the baby lambs a bottle or feeding the pigs. Make sure to save some food for the wagon ride since food is only available for purchase in the gift shop. Spend $1 on a stick to feed the budgie birds if you want them to eat from your hand.
3. Take your time enjoying the budgie birds and the petting barn.
My three oldest kids spent over 45 minutes inside the budgie bird sanctuary. They were thrilled when I didn't rush them. My one-year-old LOVED the budgie birds, but when I feared for the birds' safety and made him leave the sanctuary, he was thrilled to watch the large animals and the tractor pulling the wagon nearby while my older kids enjoyed the birds for a few extra minutes.
The petting barn had something for everything and plenty of animals to pet and feed. Hand sanitizer is readily available for washing hands when you are done.
4. You don't need a stroller for the Reston Zoo.
I pushed an empty stroller through the zoo most of the time since my one-year-old was too excited about the animals to sit still. The Reston Zoo is stroller-friendly and I would use one for babies, but I loved that the zoo is small enough for little legs to wander freely. My son could see the animals and loved playing and interacting with them all morning.
5. Reston Zoo is open late on Friday nights in the summer.
The Reston Zoo caters to families by staying open until 8:00 p.m. on Friday nights from mid-June until September. It's nice to have an option for working parents to enjoy an evening at the zoo.
6. Reston Zoo celebrates holidays with family-friendly activities.
The Reston Zoo sponsors an Easter Egg hunt in the spring, Boo at the Zoo in October, and Zoolights in December to celebrate the holidays. Bring your family for great photo ops and family fun.
Good to Know
Location: 1228 Hunter Mill Road, Vienna, VA 22181 for GPS purposes. Only 30 minutes from downtown Washington D.C.
Cost: $13 for adults, $10 for kids ages 2-12, children under 2 are free. Animal food costs extra.
Amenities: small gift shop, picnic tables, restrooms.
Clothing: Wear closed-toe shoes and plan to get dirty as you walk around and feed the animals.
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