Now that Sophia is coming up to 3 she loves animals more than ever, what kid doesn’t ?and number 1 on our wish list to visit was Chester Zoo. It has always been my favourite zoo and the last time I went was with my husband (then boyfriend) about 10 years ago. We were super excited in the lead up to going so much so that Sophia didn’t sleep much the night before as she was too excited ‘to visit the zoom’ her words haha not a typo. The zoo was closer to my house than I thought, when we looked at the sat nav it was only 45 minutes drive away which really isn’t far at all. Now that we have been as a family we will definitely be going again.
My first thoughts about the zoo is that I don’t remember it being so big – it is huge!. I’m sure that there are now a lot more attractions than 10 years ago, I’m pretty sure that they have built a few new areas. It is so big that we didn’t get to see everything. Next time I would plan our route around on a map so animals that we really want to see don’t get missed. I overlooked that fact that it takes you longer to see everything with a child in tow as they want to stop and take everything in. Sophia was so happy though the smile on her face made my day, her favourite animals were the giraffes and she has been telling all her friends that the giraffes were eating trees which was going in their tummies. My favourite attractions were the Bat Forest which was pitch black in parts so if your little one is out of the pram make sure that they have reins on or that you have a hold of them. It was so cool being so close to all the bats and seeing them in their own environment. They flew right between us and landed on a branch nearby. Out of everything the Tropical Realm was my favourite place, I was surprised because birds aren’t my favourite animals and it was basically a huge tropical aviary. It was like a real life rainforest under one roof it was such a cool place, I didn’t want to leave. Inside there was more than just birds as there was a waterfall, turtles and other animals but it was mostly tropical birds. Some where in cages but there was a large open space in the middle which was set up with huge trees and the birds were free. I loved walking the small windy paths and being so close to the birds. It felt like I was in a real rainforest minus being scared for dangerous spiders. In the middle was a wooden hut with lots of decorative birdcages hanging from the roof, It was a very instagrammable location and it felt very tranquil. The Roman Garden was another gorgeous location that I wasn’t expecting. I love how different parts of the zoo felt like different countries, they also keep all the animals together from their home countries which is great, it feels like your visiting different parts of the world.
I found Chester Zoo to be very child friendly. They had baby changing stations in both the women’s and mens toilets and also separate ones located about too. You can also hire out buggies for if your child gets tired or if you forget to bring one. We took our pram and Sophia was constantly in and out of it but we definitely couldn’t have managed without it if only to cram all of our picnic under. They have a monorail available which I would like to use next time we go as this time we never got to see everything. There were animals and fun things to see everywhere you turned and we were scared to get the monorail incase we missed anything which is ironic because we did miss some stuff haha. We took our own picnic which was great, there are benches and picnic spots everywhere so even on a busy Saturday we were never short of anywhere to sit. There are a few play areas about and Sophia had a great time at The Beach which was a sand pit area with a boat and some other small wooden structures to play with the sand.
My favourite things about Chester Zoo
- It was designed with families in mind. There are plenty of toilets with separate baby changing stations in both the men and women’s toilets. You can hire buggies for tired little feet. There are numerous child play areas and there are lots of benches and areas where you can have a picnic.
- Parking is free and it’s easily accessible on a bus route. There is a bus stop right on the site which offers bus services and a park and ride service.
- They have staff in various places offering to take photos which you can view and buy separately at the end from the photobooth. I like this idea as I didn’t feel inclined to purchase but it’s a great way to get a family photo with everyone in. We bought some photos and you get given a code so you can view them online a few days later which is good for if you want to share it online or if you want to print extra copies.
- There are so many cool animals to see!, we recently went to another zoo in the North West and even though I liked it about 40% of the animals were different types of deer which I found quite boring. There are hundreds of animals at Chester Zoo and I surprisingly enjoyed the smaller not very well-known animals over the big popular ones. My top 3 favourite animals were flamingos, bats and then the tropical birds.
Chester Zoo have a large new area opening this summer which I managed to get a peek at through the fence, it’s a large area called the ‘Play Base Camp’. It’s still under construction but it should be opening soon. Chester Zoo have introduced ‘Play at Chester Zoo’ which are small fun activities to do throughout the zoo to keep your little ones interested and learning more about the animals on show. From balancing on one foot like a flamingo, following the butterfly path to puddle jumping. It will be sure to keep your little one on their toes. We discovered some really cool tunnels built with branches all around, they were surprisingly big and led off in a few different directions. We had lot’s of fun playing in them.
Overall we had a very fun day out which we will never forget. I was originally worried about the rain spoiling it and I took a pac-a-mac along but I didn’t have to worry as a lot of the attractions are indoors so I wouldn’t be put off but the weather in the future. Obviously I would rather it not rain but it wouldn’t put me off going. I would reccommend anyone going to print off a map and plan your route around the zoo so you know which area to go next so you can take maximum advantage of your day out. I can’t wait to go back and I look forward to seeing the new Play area when it opens this summer.
Which animal would be your first stop? We headed straight to the Bat Forest first – Jodie x
Disclaimer: I was kindly offered free admission to visit the zoo. I was under no obligation to review my time there but we really enjoyed it so I wanted to share it with you. As always all thoughts and opinions here are my own.