We took a small road trip to Washington DC last week to visit the zoo. My daughter is now old enough to enjoy the animals and so we decided to make the trip and see how she liked it. Being from the Washington area I am used to the added congestion that goes with being in the city. My wife, on the other hand, was more than a bit overwhelmed by the amount of traffic that we fought with on the way down and back. It is a reminder of how lucky we are to live waaaaaay out in Frederick County!
We got to the zoo and parked on Connecticut Avenue to avoid $15 parking fee. In hindsight I guess it would have only benefited the animals and the staff at the zoo had we paid...next time. It was great to be so close to the entrance and also be close to the sights and sounds of the bustling Woodley Park area. People from all walks of life were hustling around to and fro. The street was alive with pedestrian and vehicular traffic alike.
It is amazing how much planning and packing it takes to move two children under the age of three from one place to another. Our compact car was filled to the brim with diaper bags, strollers, water bottles, and all the other things that kids need when you are out and about.
We finally got into the zoo (which is free, by the way) and took a quick break for lunch. After lunch we finally get to see the park. Well, where are all the animals??? Most of the animals, especially the big ones like the Great Cats, the Monkeys, Zebras, and Pandas are all asleep or hiding in the shade during the middle of the day. We got to see a few animals but most were too hard for a 2 year old to spot. The Elephants, though, could not hide from us so we spent some time cruising around their enclosure. The big excitement for the day turned out to be The Reptile House. My daughter really liked being able to get up close to the snakes, lizards and turtles. I was surprised at how interested she was in animals that usually inspire fear in most people. It was also nice to get out of the sun and into the air conditioning for a little while as well.
We finished up our trip with a mad dash back to the top of the hill. Mom and Dad each had a stroller to push and kid gear to haul so it was an exciting (read grueling) sprint to the entrance of the park. If you are looking for a great way to get out and enjoy the weather as well as give the kids something different to do then The National Zoo won't disappoint. Just make sure you go earlier or later in the day to catch the animals when they are most active.