A New Family’s Guide to the Cincinnati Zoo

Blog by Cidney Fitzpatrick

Whether you’re a parent, grandparent, or teen there’s so much to explore at this wild wonder of Southwest Ohio. Just a short drive south of Warren County, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden ranks among the nation’s most popular attractions for animal lovers of all ages. 

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden | Cincinnati, Ohio

After having a baby girl just 6 short months ago, Brian and I wanted our first real family outing to be absolutely perfect. Being lifelong animal lovers, the Cincinnati Zoo certainly fit that bill! As I packed up the diaper bag in anticipation of our visit, it was safe to say that I was a bit more excited about the zoo day than our little one. Still, having fallen in love with the zoo at a young age myself, I was determined to help her do the same.

While extremely excited, I was also a (very) new mom and was therefore slightly (completely) nervous about the whole ordeal. Would the stroller be easy to take into exhibits? Where would I change her diaper? Even after more than a hundred trips to the zoo, there were so many questions! Fortunately, I’m here to say, “fear not, family zoo goers!” Ramps into every exhibit, smooth walkways and changing tables in each and every bathroom quickly diminished all of our kid-sized concerns. These wonderfully well-thought-out details made our day of family fun nothing but enjoyable!

We started our excursion by checking out the reptiles and amphibians in the zoo’s oldest building (and my favorite!) the Reptile House. As we walked around the circular structure, viewing all of its creepy crawly inhabitants, I excitedly identified some of my favorite snakes and lizards to my family. While our 6-month-old didn’t seem to care much about the slithery, scaled species, she did take serious notice of the alligators in the middle of the room.

Next, it was Brian’s turn to pick an exhibit, and to say he was ready to get out of the Reptile House would be the understatement of the year. As we strolled throughout the zoo, enjoying the summer warmth, we were stopped in our tracks by the beauty of the White Tigers. As they snuggled up against each other, basking in the sun, we pointed them out to the baby to make sure she took notice (she didn’t). But we enjoyed a few minutes with the tigers, taking in the sites, the sounds and the wonderful family time we’d both been looking forward to so much.

Cheetah at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden | Cincinnati, Ohio

After making our way through the majority of the zoo’s incredible exhibits, the moment I’d been waiting for all day long finally came to be. It was time to meet baby FIONA! I had been following this sweet little hippo’s success story since the second she was born and had been fully obsessed from the get-go. As soon as we (power-) walked into Hippo Cove, there she was in all of her glory!  Fiona and her mother treated zoo guests to an absolutely adorable show, swimming in-sync and blowing bubbles in the water. While there was a crowd at the exhibit, we were able to sneak a special moment with just our family to snap a mom, baby and hippo baby photo.

When it was finally time to head home after a long, wonderful afternoon, we spent the majority of our car ride back planning our next zoo trip – sans the parenting fears!