Phoenix Zoo#4 in Best Things To Do in Phoenix
The Phoenix Zoo is a great place to enjoy nature without your little ones dying of boredom. There are four trails (measuring 2½ miles in total) that wind through the numerous habitats represented on this 125-acre chunk of land. The zoo houses a variety of animals, including baboons, Sumatran tigers, Asian elephants, Galápagos tortoises and Komodo dragons. Take younger tots to the Red Barn petting zoo or to the giraffe encounter where they can get some face time with the animals. When their little legs start to tire, consider the 25-minute narrated safari train tour, which only costs a few extra dollars and provides a good orientation of the zoo.
Recent visitors (especially those with kids in tow) had a great time at the zoo, and praised the clean and well-maintained grounds. Several reviewers recommended allotting at least two hours to see all of the exhibits. However, some travelers were disappointed with the added costs for everything from the safari train ride to the 4-D theater.
Sitting just southwest of the Desert Botanical Gardens in Papago Park, the Phoenix Zoo operates seasonal hours; check the Phoenix Zoo website before visiting. General admission to the zoo costs $24.95 for adults, $14.95 for kids ages 3 to 13 and is free for children 2 and younger. You can save $2 on each admission by purchasing your tickets in advance on the zoo's website. Additional attractions and experiences, such as the safari train and carousel ride, cost extra. Other on-site facilities include a gift shop and several eateries, though you can bring your own food and coolers into the zoo (there are several picnic tables throughout the grounds).
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#1 Desert Botanical Garden
The desert may seem like the last place you'd expect to find flora. Yet the Desert Botanical Garden is home to thousands of species of cacti, trees and flowers from all around the world. The garden's brightly colored plants sharply contrast the Sonoran Desert's cinnamon-red buttes, and numerous hiking trails – like the Plants and People of the Sonoran Desert and the Harriet K. Maxwell Desert Wildflower Loop trails – allow you to experience the region's natural wonders the way early settlers once did. The Desert Botanical Garden also hosts numerous events, including culinary demonstrations and outdoor concert series.
Recent visitors said the garden is fascinating and highly recommended seeking out the special exhibits when available. Several reviewers suggested visiting after the sun sets to see the garden illuminated, while others appreciated the groomed paths and well-marked signs. However, some travelers bemoaned the entrance rates and were disappointed the zoo and the garden do not offer a combined admission since they sit less than 2 miles from one another.
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