No trip to Lincoln with young kids is complete without a stop to the Lincoln Children’s Zoo. The lines between petting zoo and full-blown zoo are blurred here, making a child’s experience all the better.
Update: This post was first written in 2014 and was updated in August 2019 to reflect new year-round hours and prices. Read about all the zoo updates that opened in 2019!
During our whirlwind 24-hour trip to the city, we decided to visit one early Sunday morning. It’s a small enough zoo to plan a morning visit and finish in time for a kid’s nap time… if that’s a factor in planning trips.
Favorite parts of the Lincoln Children’s Zoo
My favorite aspect of this zoo is the pretty meandering path from exhibit to exhibit. Trees and landscaping made it difficult to see what was around the bend, making each turn an adventure for my kids.
It’s really a nice place to stroll – and you can really get up close to the animals.
The zoo’s strengths are its hands-on activities, particularly the animal encounters. Mooch loved touching all the animals.
The only drawback to these hands-on activities, were that the encounters were a little too close. Farley – being our bouncy, vibrating-with-energy, Farley – accidentally stepped backward onto one of the lizards on the floor. I was about ready to resign from zoo visits.
Kids can have the opportunity to feed goats and other critters (like a camel), for a small fee, and they can also pay to ride ponies.
Near the petting zoo was the pony rides (for an additional fee). We didn’t do them the first time we visited but when we returned a few years later, we couldn’t resist.
The rides were a hit. The smiles were well worth the few extra dollars spent.
There are also small play areas for children scattered throughout the zoo. Sometimes kids just need to climb around like one of the animals, right?
As for the rest of the zoo, a lot of the exhibits were designed to get youngsters as close as possible to animals. There are also regularly scheduled activities with animals, so during our morning visit, we got to watch the penguins dine on fish.
The penguin feeding was fun. Each penguin has a name and she kept track of all of them! The crowd had fun trying to keep track of the names, too.
There is a train to ride at the zoo, but I was disappointed in its route. It circled the outside of the zoo, barely giving you a chance to see animals from a different view.
Regardless, the kids loved it, and the tunnel the train goes through seemed to be exciting for them.
This is largely an outdoor zoo – so it’s only open from early spring to late fall. And if you visit during less-than-wonderful weather, you have just a handful options for indoor hideouts (Animal Kingdom being your best bet). We were there during a rainstorm and you just have to make do.
There is a place to buy food and enjoy it outside near a playground and a large dinosaur dig pit (yay for sand! – not). Like most zoos, you’re not going to find a ton of health foods, but there were fruit and vegetable options.
If you go
Where: 1222 S. 27th, Lincoln, Neb.
When: Open daily, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. including holidays, and open until 8 p.m. every Wednesday in June, July and August.
Admission: Adults, 13-61, $13.95; children 2-12 and seniors, 62+, $9.95; children 1 and younger, FREE.
Tip for Omaha zoo members: Your zoo membership gets you 50% off admission at the Lincoln zoo! Take advantage of it. Learn more about reciprocal memberships here.
More stories about Lincoln, Nebraska
Looking for more things to do in Lincoln? Here are some posts I’ve written about the city!
24 Hours Of Fun In Lincoln With Kids
Things To Do Near Lincoln Children’s Museum
Things to Do Near Lincoln’s Zoo (Sunken Gardens, Antelope Park)
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Thursday 9th of October 2014
I do appreciate the fact that you seem to really be able to experience the animals close-up. I love all of the animal encounters that they have now.
Sunday 12th of October 2014
I like having the wall between us and certain animals removed.