We were gifted a membership to the Buffalo Zoo for Christmas, and with our membership we get free or reduced admission to tons of other zoos. Wanting to take advantage of that, we thought a trip to Syracuse was a perfect way to do that and see my sister's family at the same time!
So on Friday evening, we loaded the crew in the van and made our way across the state.
Our first evening there was a late one, and all 5 of our family members were squished into one room (yikes - the logistics of that were as frustrating as you're imagining!). But despite the difficulty involved, we were excited for our zoo trip the next morning. We ended up getting my entire family in for only $10 - which was awesome!
I was expecting this zoo to be really small and not as nice as the Buffalo Zoo (as I've heard from many that Buffalo is the best zoo in Western & Central NY), but I was pleasantly surprised! They did a lot of recent renovating, and it was really cute there!
The first thing we saw was a big octopus - the kids loved it!
We followed the twisting hallways and saw meerkats, lemurs, fish, snakes, and all kinds of monkeys. Their lion den was even visible through a hallway, and we found ourselves separated from a massive male lion by only a sheet of glass! It was so crazy to be that close and see him so well - I don't think I've ever been that close to a lion before!! (Coincidentally, I wasn't able to get a good picture because there was a bad glare due to the glass - oh well!)
Some necessary goofy picture posing ;)
We saw lots of birds (big and small), tigers, elephants and farm animals (like pigs, chickens, and ponies) before we got some lunch in the zoo's cafe - which was yummy!
Our "Zoovenirs"...haha ;)
They had a great little gift shop, and since this trip counted as a family vacation, I let them all pick out a small souvenir. I was wearing Jake through our whole trip, and as we walked passed a little display of squirty bath toys in all different animals, he reached out and grabbed a lion! I tried to put it back, and even show him some of the other animals, but he insisted on that little lion! I've never seen him show a preference for something like that before, so that had to be his little toy! The big boys each picked out a Jeep toy, and I picked out a magnet for our fridge.
Um, how adorable is she with her cake?!
That evening, we had a mini-celebration for my niece's 2nd birthday. Her birthday is actually today! Happy Birthday, Annabel! Since we were there visiting, we took advantage and threw a little party. My celebration-minded boys didn't mind a bit! We had some pizza and cake, and then opened a few gifts. My boys and I picked out a pillow pet, a play golf set, and a couple of wooden puzzles for her to open -she seems to have loved it all!
After the celebrations (and eating way too much), we went for a walk to look for ducks. We didn't find many, but apparently they gather in such large numbers here that they've even put in a duck crossing sign! We walked to a playground and let the kids play for a bit, and then went back home to have a little campfire. We didn't last very long before Jake was ready for bed, but it was still nice to sit down and relax for a little while before another long night stuffed in one room together - haha!
We had a great time together, and though it was really nice getting back to our own beds and bedrooms, I'm glad we went and had a fun weekend together! I would highly recommend a trip to the Rosamond Gifford Zoo, too - it's really nicely done, and the kids really enjoyed it!