Step into the humid jungles of southeastern Asia, get nose-to-nose with a Russian grizzly and Siberian tiger, peek inside a beaver’s den and find a cozy spot to watch a mesmerizing flow of tropical fish. Minnesota’s biggest zoo sprawls across 500 acres in Apple Valley (20 miles south of St. Paul), so it’s wise to bring a stroller or wagon for outdoor exhibits.
Themed trails range from 1 to 2 miles, and are dotted with bison, caribou, camels and wolves. Spring is especially popular for the arrival of chicks, lambs, piglets and other babies on the zoo’s Family Farm. Indoors, you can roam the tropics, catch an IMAX movie, watch monk seals and explore aquariums, touch tanks and tide pools.
If your child has light-up shoes, prepare for special attention from African penguins. Zoo events include preschool programs, family sleepovers, zoo camp, a summer concert series and animal encounters with bears, penguins and sea otters.
Children 3 to 12 and seniors over 65, $12; ages 13 and up, $18
Monday through Friday (Sept. to May): 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Monday through Friday (Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day): 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Saturday through Sunday (Oct. to May) 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Saturday through Sunday (May to Sept.): 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.