It's a New York tradition, and an excuse to get another use out of those Halloween costumes! The Bronx Zoo's Boo at the Zoo has plenty of tricks and treats, making for a "spooktacular" time for your family.
Of course, the Bronx Zoo is a wonderful destination no matter what time of year you visit. But during weekends in October, and into the first weekend of November, the 265-acre park offers Halloween-themed activities that children of all ages can enjoy.
My in-laws and I took a group of kids between the ages of 2 and 9 to participate in Boo at the Zoo. We purchased the Total Experience Ticket, so we had access to all the special exhibits.
The kids were happy to wear their various costumes for the day (with some extra layers underneath). Costume parades are held a couple of times each weekend day, traveling through the heart of the park. It's the one time of year you may see little lions, tigers and bears roaming free on the zoo grounds ... and maybe a ghost or two! Make sure your camera is handy for a great photo op.
The parade passes by the Dancing Crane Cafe, a good (albeit expensive) spot to recharge with lunch or a snack. There are plenty of tables indoors and out, and you may even see the zo'’s famous peacocks wandering around! Just in front of the cafe are two covered areas with some hands-on activities for the kids. There is a station for making delicious S'mores (with parent supervision, of course) and also a spot for making "creepy crafts."
Right next to the "creepy crafts" table is the pumpkin-carving table. I could have stayed there all day watching the artists do their work! Instead of the typical jack-o'-lanterns, the men and women behind the table used their tiny tools to turn two huge pumpkins into a scene from the Arctic, complete with polar bears, a walrus and a whale. Amazing!
Once you've had your fill here, there are lots of other places to explore. We stopped at the Museum of UnNatural Mysteries, a guided tour housed in the old World of Darkness building. There were different displays with mummies, skeletons, etc. The tour guide tried to get the kids involved and tried to gently scare them, but our group of kids were not too impressed. The best part may have been getting a piece of candy at the end.
The zoo map will point you to additional "treat stations" and areas with other seasonal activities, including live music, magic shows and a neat hay maze. But our favorite was definitely the Dinosaur Safari, located just past the Zoo's historic Fountain Circle. It's kind of an alternative to your typical Halloween hayride. Instead, you'll climb aboard a cart attached to a pickup truck and make your way through a maze of hiding dinos. The animatronic creations appear from behind bushes and trees. Some move and make noise, while others spray water on you. After the ride, you can dig for fossils in sand at the nearby field site. The kids thought all of it was a blast.
The rest of the day we tried to see as many of the animals as we could. The sea lions were a particular hit. They were putting on quite a show, barking loudly after zooming in and out of the water. We also had success at Tiger Mountain, where some of the tigers were walking right in front of the glass! The kids also enjoyed seeing the creatures in the Madagascar exhibit (a great place to get inside and warm up if need be), including some friendly lemurs and slow but steady tortoises.
While the children can admire the animals, the adults can admire their surroundings. A stroll around the zoo is very pleasing this time of year. The leaves on the grounds show off some magnificent colors and the seasonal decorations are impressive.
Our very busy day was topped off with a fun ride on the Bug Carousel, with each child taking a seat on a different "creepy crawler." We left the park very excited to celebrate Halloween and excited to return to the Bronx Zoo in the future to discover more of its wonders.
Andrea White is a writer and mother-of-two "bootiful" children. She lives in Edgemont with her family.
©2014 Community News Group