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Allison and Terri

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How to Do the Zoo with Tweens and Teens

This post is a guest post from fellow friend Anitra from The Mom on the Move.

I want to thank the Detroit Zoo for sponsoring our visit, however, all opinions are mine and mine alone.

Since The Boy was young we have visited the zoos in nearly every city traveled. We have been to zoos in Orlando, Nashville, Cincinnati, St. Louis and Evansville, IN. We’ve done our fair share of zoo-hopping.

But as The Girls get older maintaining this time honored tradition is something I want to continue to be enjoyable for the entire family. And these are the ways I’ve learned to make a trip to the zoo enjoyable and fun for tweens and teens.

Let them take their own pics.

Generation Z has never lived in a world where digital photography didn’t exist. They are used to being able to control how they document their experiences in life. When I was my daughter’s age disposable cameras were the hot thing. My kids don’t even know how to use a disposable camera. So, if your teen has his own device, let him use to capture his own experience.

Caption: Photo taken in the Polk Penguin Conservation Center

 

Detroit Zoo

Caption: Photo taken in the Polk Penguin Conservation Center

 

Detroit Zoo

Caption: Photo taken in the National Amphibian Conservation Center

Detroit Zoo

Caption: Photo taken in the Holden Reptile Conservation Center

 

Of course, creating family memories is important too, but teens will only pose for so many pictures a day. Select your opportunities wisely. (Pro Tip: selfies are usually acceptable)

Detroit Zoo

 

Feed them often.

Text. Eat. Sleep. That’s about how the normal course of a tweenaged day goes. And it will be no different when you’re on a family outing. Whether you bring your own food or dine onsite at the Arctic Cafe’, make sure you don’t miss their feeding time.

Detroit Zoo

 

Detroit Zoo

Let them be your kids.

This seems obvious, right? I mean who else’s child would she be? But sometimes, your kid, even your teenager, just wants to be a kid. So let her.

Detroit Zoo

Caption: Photo taken in the Prairie Dog Habitat in the American Grasslands

 

Detroit Zoo

Caption: Toad fountains at National Amphibian Conservation Center

 

Detroit Zoo

When your teenager wants to hold your hand, you let her.

Do the extra stuff.

Zoos can be great fun when all the animals are out and about. But a zoo is not the circus. The only time there might be a show is feeding time…for the animals, not your kids. To keep your teens and tweens engaged, splurge on the extra stuff.

Detroit Zoo Carousel

Caption: Photo taken on the Detroit Zoo Carousel

 

Detroit Zoo

Caption: Photo taken in the Ford Education Center 4-D Theater

For $12 per person, you can add all the attractions (carousel, train ride, simulator rode, and 4D films) for the entire day when you visit the Detroit Zoo. We saw the 4D Film Turtle Vision and it was awesome! That fourth dimension really makes the experience come to life, LITERALLY!

Detroit Zoo

Caption: Photo taken in the Ford Education Center 4-D Theater

Check out the Turtle Vision trailer to imagine what an experience it was to see the film in 4-D.

Let them take breaks.

Teenagers are notoriously lethargic. Maybe it’s the growing pains, maybe it’s the hormone shifts. Whatever the cause, if you don’t want grouchy people in your presence, let them take breaks. Grouchy teenager mood is almost as bad as a toddler meltdown.

Detroit Zoo

Caption: There are many benches and areas to rest throughout the zoo.

 

Detroit Zoo

Caption: Picture taken in the Arctic Ring of Life Polar Bear Habitat.

Doing the extra stuff can help. Even though you’re experiencing an engaging attraction, you get to sit while doing so. And at the end of the day take the ultimate break and ride the Tauber Family Railroad back to the front of the park. They’ll appreciate this, even if they don’t say thank you.

Detroit Zoo

Caption: Photo taken at the Tauber Family Railroad Africa Station

Leave time for shopping.

What better way to remember the fun family outing than by spending more of mom’s money, right? Teens and tweens are much more discriminant about what they were and what they use than little ones. Save some time for them to choose a memento, especially if they have their own money. This isn’t the time for a lesson in frugality. Let them splurge a bit.

Detroit Zoo

Caption: Photo taken in Zoofari Market

 

Detroit Zoo

Caption: Photo taken in Zoofari Market

 

Detroit Zoo

Caption: Photo taken in Drake Passage Gift Shop

 

All in all your day at the zoo can be fun for your whole family. If your travels take you to the Detroit area be sure to visit the zoo and tell them I sent you!

How to Do the Zoo with Tweens and Teens

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