We’ve visited the Hattiesburg Zoo several times now, and I have to say that each time has just been a real pleasure. This zoo is just over an hour’s drive (one way) for us which isn’t a bad drive. Usually, Cooper falls asleep either on the way back or the way there – sometimes both ways 🙂 – sometimes Sophie falls asleep. And if you’re a parent, you know that sleeping kids on a long(ish) car ride is always a blessing – for everyone involved.
I just wanted to kind of sing the praises of the Hattiesburg Zoo. We enjoy it so much, and I really think it’s a little local treasure that is overlooked. Most people immediately think of and flock to the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans which is about the same distance (little over an hour drive both ways). And I’ve been to that zoo as well. I’ve actually also taken the kids to that zoo. It’s a great zoo in a great city. It’s just a lot. Especially with two small children to coral and entertain.
The Hattiesburg Zoo is smaller than the Audubon Zoo and WAAAYYY more affordable. At the Hburg Zoo, I can pay for the three of us to get in, buy all kinds of extra tickets for attractions like the train – carousel – high hopes rope climbing adventure PLUS buy food for the same amount that it would cost to simply gain entrance to the Audubon Zoo. That alone is reason enough to default to the Hattiesburg Zoo. Not to mention, it’s really just a great little zoo. It is well kept up. The exhibits always look maintained. It’s clean. Like even the bathrooms. The bathrooms are always stocked and clean – this is major considering we visit all the bathrooms. Speaking of bathrooms, I never had to hunt for one. We take multiple potty breaks (cause: 3 and 5 year old….) and not once did I have to run searching for a restroom while crossing my fingers that one of my littles’ wasn’t going to be able to hold it long enough to make it to the potty. This is a major deal people. 😉
Obviously, the main attraction for any zoo are the animal exhibits BUT kids need more than that. The Hattiesburg Zoo definitely doesn’t drop the ball when it comes to providing attractions for your kids beyond looking at the animals. We always do the train ride, carousel, and high hopes climbing course. However, they also have a mining expedition activity. These four attractions all cost extra. BUT there are several things you can do for free. We love the Hub area which is a little play area that includes a grassy hill the kids LOVE to slide down. There’s also an African petting zoo and wallaby walkabout area. During the summer you can take advantage of a large splash pad. Sophie got to do that last summer and I had to pry her away from it.
In addition to all the things I’ve said I love about this zoo – I can’t say enough how much I love the size of it. The kids and I can do the whole experience in 2-3 hours without leaving feeling frazzled or completely worn out. I don’t have to hear about tired legs and my parenting nerves are still intact when we leave. 😉
We always have a blast and will definitely be back. Tell me, do your kids enjoy going to the zoo? Have you been to this one?