It’s a Zoo, Out There! (in Norristown): The Elmwood Park Zoo

I was amazed to find a zoo in the middle of nowhere (otherwise known as Norristown). Yes, I noticed the lack of some of the most popular animals – giraffes, elephants, and rhinos – but my kids didn’t. They were too busy studying the sleeping porcupine’s teeth, giggling as the red foxes chased each other in circles, and predicting which prairie dog would pop out of its hole next.

With very few animals behind glass, this small zoo felt much more open and natural than the Philadelphia Zoo. And, I know it’s hard to believe, but a day at the Elmwood Park Zoo with two young children was actually relaxing. Really. I learned more than I needed to about the blue-tongued skink during the reptile talk, but my son was in heaven. And without the large crowds we would usually encounter at a zoo, my daughter didn’t have to wait in line for her second pony ride (which meant I didn’t have to hear that high-pitched cry for very long).

The petting zoo was a like a trip to the farm, with animals housed in a quaint red barn. After petting sheep and goats, we discovered the beautiful black jaguar and watched Jamaican fruit bats nibbling on bananas. And I wish I could transport their playground to my neighborhood. There were intricate wooden play structures for little and not-so-little, ride-on animals, and even a “fossil dig” area with pebbles that kept my little one busy searching for dinosaur bones.

After a long day of animal gazing, I was thrilled to find out that the yummy-smelling hamburgers being grilled outside on the café’s deck were not for a private party, but for everyone!

Finally, a trip to the zoo that didn’t leave me feeling like I’d been run over by a herd of elephants! (And the prices didn’t crush my wallet either.)

Hours: Mondays through Sundays: 10:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.

Location: 1661 Harding Blvd., Norristown, PA 19401

Contact Information: 610.277.3825

Cost: Free (under 2), $7.75 per child (2-12), $10.75 per adult; $70 for a family annual membership.

*free lot parking.

*Visit the zoo this Saturday, Sept. 19th, for thier annual Oktoberfest!

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