Petting zoos

zoo-kids-farm-map.gif  
Reston Petting Zoo
1228 Hunter Mill Rd. Vienna
www.restonzoo.com

I know, the address says Vienna, but it’s really right on the border. It’s kind of bizarre to see zebras, antelope, bison and ostriches in the middle of suburbia, but there it is. In addition to the exotic animals, including alligators, camels, reptiles and more, there are domesticated animals the kiddies can get their eager paws on.

Cost: Adults $10, kids ages 2-12 are $8, 2 and under are free; includes wagon rides. 
Extras: animal feed bottles, lamb bottles and pony rides

 Special events:

  • Easter Festival March 22-23 with three egg hunts each day, free face painting, get picture taken with the Easter bunny for  a fee
  • Apple Days Oct. 18-19, 25-26 with free apples, hot cider and face painting for the kids
Leesburg Animal Park
19270 James Monroe Highway
www.leesburganimalpark.com

Haven’t actually been here, but I’ve heard it’s good for little kids. One of the main attractions are the tortoises, but they have a boa constrictor, iguana, monkey, serval cat, lemurs, llama, pot-bellied pigs and more. Reviews from a couple of years ago complained about no potties, though. I’ll go when it opens and update this.  

Cost: $7.95 for kids, $9.95 for kids + pony ride, $9.95 adults. Can purchase tickets online, as well as season passes. Check the Web site for coupons.
Extras: animal feed, pony rides, camel rides
Special Events:
Pumpkinville Sept. 27-Nov. 2, a fall harvest celebration with hay maze, giant hill slides, straw tunnels, moon bounces and more

Smithsonian National Zoo
Washington DC
Open daily except Christmas

OK, so don’t call their Kid Farm a petting zoo: “We want to share with people of all ages that taking care of animals requires far more than feeding an animal a handful of food and giving them a brief pat on the back,” former zoo director Lucy Spelman said at the 2004 opening. By far the best deal since it’s free and there’s an entire zoo beyond the farm, which is located near the entrance by Rock Creek Parkway. The Web site has a great Just For Kidssection with virtual tours, online games, homework info, coloring pages and tips for touring the zoo.   

Cost: Free!
Extras: stroller rentals

Special family events:

  • Guppy Gala May 9, an evening fundraiser featuring rock climbing walls, mazes, moon bounces, live entertainment and more. For kids 2-12. Tickets go on sale April 1.
  • Boo at the Zoo Oct. 24-26, one of the premiere DC Halloween events for families with more than 40 treat stations. For kids 2-12. Tickets sell out quickly, so sign up for the zoo’s newsletters to find out more.
  • Zoo Lights end of the year, with a light display, crafts and treats. More details to come.

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