13 Reasons To Take A FieldTrip To The Turtleback Zoo
1.-Free Parking. It’s VERY CLOSE to the entrance. And it’s in a covered garage with an elevator. We’re from Jersey City – we feel the value of this feature in our souls.
2.-It’s not a long drive. It’s on 280 just past Newark. If you’re paying attention and don’t get on 280 the wrong way, you’ll make it in 30 minutes. The kids can handle the drive without wearing a pull-up or having a major meltdown fit. Plus there are dozens of low flying airplanes and construction vehicles on the side of the road to entertain them.
3.-There’s a Dunkin Donuts literally across the street from the zoo, so if you (like me) rush out of the house un-caffeinated, you can grab one in the drive-thru before you go in. Which brings me to my next point.
4.-You can bring your own snacks. There is a beautiful dining area, which sells food in case you forget or just don’t have enough time to get it together in the morning, but if you’re on a budget or simply want your kids to eat the carrots you bought the day before, you can bring them with you. No one will yell at you.
5.-They sell memberships. Family memberships pay for themselves if you get out to the zoo twice. Which you will. They’re open all year and this place doesn’t get old. You’ll definitely use it twice.
6.-You can bring your stroller but you don’t have to. Of course, this depends on the age of your kids (and whether or not you have a backpack – let’s face it, the stroller is used mostly to lug all our stuff around) but it’s not so huge that they can’t walk around the zoo. More like run, really – it’s an exciting place for kids. Or you can rent the carts there if you need to. They look like safari jeeps.
7.-The animal enclosures are really close to you, and to each other. It’s not a giant zoo where you might see one animal every two hours. As soon as you walk in, there’s a half a dozen penguins swimming and strutting about. They’re right on the other side of the glass and they appear as if they appreciate the attention. It’s a great way to start a trip. They also have monkeys, a petting and feeding area, bison, wolves, a butterfly tent, a bird sanctuary where kids can feed the birds using popsicle sticks, sea lions, giraffes… The giraffes are new this season and my kids LOVED them, especially since we read Giraffes Can’t Dance the night before.
8.-There’s a playground with a huge climbing frame and a shielded area where moms can sit and gossip in the shade.
9.-They have a train that goes past the giraffes, the pond, and through a tunnel. I recommend doing this first – the line can get long and kids get impatient but I find that if you do it first, they’re still electrified about being at the zoo and are more tolerant of the wait. Plus they love the train. It’s worth the wait.
10.-The carousel has different animals on it instead of just horses, and also they require parents to go with kids, which is awesome because you don’t have to tell me twice to get on a merry-go-round!
11.-Pony rides! Need I say more? The ponies are pretty small and the white one had a pink harness that every little girl in the line discussed at length.
12.-Dunkin Donuts is across the street. Did I mention this already? It’s great on the way out too. Maybe I have a problem. Don’t judge me.
13.-My kids fall asleep on the way home, which means I get to sit in my car and drink my coffee while reading a magazine once we get home. This might seem like a minor point, but hey – there are no dishes to wash or laundry to fold in the car.
Mel Kozakiewicz is the founder and CEO of The Moxie Group, a marketing and consulting company in Jersey City. www.jerseycitymoxie.com