Yesterday, I spent an amazing day at the Indianapolis Zoo with my five year old. It was 37 degrees and lightly snowing and it was … fantastic. I later told my mom that it was right up there with one of the best visits we’ve ever had to the zoo.

I know what you’re thinking; I can hear the excuses now:
But it’s too cold to go walk around!

There’s nothing there to see when it’s cold!
Everything is closed!

[Insert other wah wah wah excuses.]

However, I’m going to motivate you to visit the Indianapolis Zoo in the off-season.

5 Reasons to Visit the Indianapolis Zoo in the Off-Season

1. No Lines and a Private Party
We only ran into a handful of other people visiting the zoo when we were there. This meant that there were no lines anywhere. It was like we rented out the zoo for the day for a party of about 20 people. It was awesome!

2. Active Animals
It’s true; some of the animals aren’t out in their exhibits during the colder weather because they are warmer weather animals. However, we saw some of our favorite animals being the most active that we’ve ever seen them.

Many times when we are there in the summer, we catch a glimpse of the polar bear, bear, and tiger trying to find cool places in their habitats. However, when we were there, the animals were super active. We could hear the seals and sea lions “barking” (is that even the right term?) when we were walking up. So it was fun to watch them from the outside viewing area even though it was snowing on us.

The polar bear was active, as was the tiger (who came right up to the glass to us!), and we watched the brown bear for a long time as he tried to figure out how to get his big ball under or over a log.

3. Time to Learn
The Indianapolis Zoo is very popular, so in the summer it’s crowded. Generally my kid is so excited that she’s just running from viewing point to viewing point, in and out of the crowd. However, with hardly anyone else there, she actually slowed down where we could read a lot of the information and discuss it. It was a great homeschooling field trip day for us! (And, I learn something new every single time I go to the zoo. How awesome is that?)

4. Accessible Staff
When there’s no one else at the zoo, the staff is obviously more accessible. In the Oceans Exhibit a fantastic women (I wished I had gotten her name) was walking around the exhibit. Since no one was there, we were able to ask her many questions as we wanted and she even took my daughter to other areas and told her about different things. I later learned that she was an elementary educator. She totally rocked.

5. The Indoor Parts
Ok, for all you whiney people, guess what? The zoo has a ton of different areas where you can go to warm up. These are placed close enough to the outdoor exhibits that we never really got cold when we were there (and, remember, it was snowing). However, if you do get cold, head to The Desert–they keep it a toasty 80 degrees in there! (Don’t miss those cute Meerkats. Dude! They snuggle together when they’re sleeping!)

So what are you waiting for? Bundle up, gather the kids, and head out to the Indianapolis Zoo. You’ll thank me later when the kids have burned off some of that cooped up winter energy.

Indianapolis Zoo: Plan Your Visit!

Hours:

Through February 28: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., Wednesday-Sunday
March 1-March 15: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., Daily
March 16-May 24:  9 a.m. – 4 p.m., Monday – Thursday, and 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Friday – Sunday

JackieWJacqueline Wilson is a published author, consultant, writer and homeschooling mom. She blogs at WritRams.com, PrimeParentsClub.com and BloggersEarnBucks.com. Follow her on Twitter as @WritRams.