Headed to the Zoo? Don’t Miss These Tips!


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Age Groups:  All

If you’re headed to the Oregon Zoo in the future, those of us who have been going to the zoo for years have figured out some secrets that will make your trip much more enjoyable:

  • CASCADE GRILL: Hands down, the Cascade Grill is the best kept ‘where to eat’ secret at the zoo.  You’ll find this top-notch eatery right after entering the zoo along the right side – it has great non-carnival type food at affordable prices.  Plus, you get to sit down at a nice table and eat with real silverware and staff will bring the food to your table once it’s ready. Did I mention unlike the rest of the eateries at the zoo, it’s almost never crowded? Because it’s a fancy looking lodge restaurant where you’d expect waiters and a big bill, people walk right by it. When the Cascade Grill was first built, the idea was to cater to business people in the hopes that they’d hold meetings and luncheons there. Hence, the fancy looking lodge look.  While the zoo soon realized that the Cascade Grill was not the expected meeting/luncheon hit with business people, plenty of families coming to the zoo would enjoy the lodge-like atmosphere and great food.  It’s now a seat-yourself eatery with yummy food for young and old.  Their burger and fries rival anything I’ve had at McMenamins and yes, they even have beer on tap.  The cost is about the same as all the other zoo food but tastes so much better, so next time you’re headed to the zoo, come hungry and make your first stop lunch at the Cascade Grill while you look over a zoo map of exhibits and plan your route.
  • ZOO KEY: For a mere $2 you can get a ‘zoo key’ which will unlock boxes at exhibits along the walkways of the zoo.  Hear the hippo snort, learn about polar bears and all the while keep your little ones engaged and searching for the next ‘zoo box.’  Kids absolutely love finding those boxes and sticking in their ‘key.’  The information from the zoo boxes is in English and Spanish.  The keys come in multiple colors and animals, so a fun thing for our family is to collect them all.
  • ZOO CONCERTS: From the B-52s to Huey Lewis and the News, the zoo has outstanding entertainers all summer long.  If you’re a zoo member (which I highly recommend for great discounts and freebies), you’ll get pre-sale opportunities to buy tickets to the most popular artists before the regular public. There’s nothing like going to a concert at the zoo in the summer and dancing on the grass to Rock Lobster.
  • STAY PAST CLOSING: Another great ‘beat the crowds’ tip is to come to the zoo about a half-hour before they close, especially in summer when the zoo is crowded most days. From May 28 to Sept. 5, 2016 they close at 6 PM, so if you head over around 5:30 you an stay on the grounds until 7 PM.  From Fall to Spring (Sept. 6, 2016 to May 26, 2017), the zoo closes at 4 PM, so if you get there by 3:30 you can stay on the grounds until 5PM.  During winter, except for ZooLights and other events, the crowds are much smaller.
  • FEEDING SCHEDULE: Make sure when you first get to the zoo to check out the feeding schedule for the various animals – the only thing more fun than watching the polar bears frolic or the bears lounge around is seeing them grab their food and chow down.

For more information on the Oregon Zoo and events and membership, be sure to check out their website at http://www.oregonzoo.org.

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Last modified: February 22, 2017

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