For the last eight years now, Rob and I have vacationed with my parents in Gulf Shores, Alabama. Just on the other side of the Mississippi, the waters turn from a muddy brown to blue. The sand is white and in October when we visit, they are EMPTY. But the sun still shines and the air is warm and the water isn’t too cold. It’s amazing. And while we LOVE the beach, I want to tell you our why you should visit the Gulf Coast Zoo, even if it means giving up a day or half-day on the white sand.
Why You Should Visit the Gulf Coast Zoo
Note: We have been visiting the zoo for years and were huge supporters already, but last year the zoo gave us free entrance and animal encounter passes in exchange for writing this post! As always, the opinions are my own.
It is the perfect size & setup for summer.
Zoos + Summer = Heat Stroke. Even though we visit in October, it is still very warm in Alabama. This zoo packs a LOT into a smaller space so that you can easily get through the whole zoo and even make a few trips around the main circular path and not overheat. We have always had small children with us, and often they lose energy halfway through a larger zoo, but the Gulf Coast Zoo is really the perfect size for little legs (and pregnant mamas).
It has a variety of animals you can see close-up.
Also because of the size, you are able to really get a great view of most of the animals. They have everything from lions and wolves to capybaras and lemurs. Plus a whole reptile house. It has a great variety of animals your kids have seen and a few that may be totally new. If you don’t know anything about Capybaras, you should check out one of my favorite childhood books, Cabyboppy. (*affiliate link!)
It is hands ON.
The Gulf Coast Zoo has the most availability for animal encounters of any zoo I’ve been to. There are goats you can feed in one area, but you can pay a VERY reasonable amount for time with kangaroos, sloths, lemurs, and reptiles. For $5, you can spend 15 minutes with baby kangaroos. This was probably one of the neatest things I’ve ever done and made a big impact on the kids. Few zoos allow you to have access to animals other than domestic farm animals, so to be able to sit and have a lemur climb all over your shoulders is pretty incredible. Since we have been, they added a reptile encounter.
It has a friendly staff.
Most zoos are so large that the staff really aren’t able to interact with guests. We had a great experienceevery time we went with the staff who manned the animal encounters or were in the park during opening hours. My kids always have a LOT of questions and the staff members were kind, patient, and knowledgeable. This made the visit more of a learning experience.
This is always one of the kids and my favorite parts of Gulf Shores each year! I would highly recommend this zoo (nicknamed the Little Zoo That Could after being the first zoo to completely evacuate during a hurricane), especially to families with small children. Even if you aren’t in Gulf Shores, the zoo is only an hour from Pensacola and would be completely worth it. Just ask my kids! Or…check out their faces in the photos.
Want to see more of a Gulf Shores family vacation? Click the picture below to read more!