With the kids home from school and busting at the seams with unspent energy, you have to get them out of the house occasionally, even if it's 100 degrees outside. Although swimming pools and water parks tend to be the best option for outdoor fun in the blazing Texas heat, you can only do so many cannonballs each summer.
So, it's time to look at the other outside attractions in the Dallas area, including the 106-acre Dallas Zoo. Home to more than 2,000 animals, the zoo is the oldest and largest zoological park in the state and is undoubtedly worth visiting a handful of times. Even if you've been before, there's always something new to check out. They just opened a brand new hippopotamus exhibit this past spring, and there's currently a baby giraffe on display! *makes note to self to buy my own tickets ASAP*
The problem is that within an hour of exploring this impressive zoological park, you'll probably be dripping with sweat and willing to shell out $5 for a water in a desperate attempt to stay alive. There's a reason we Texans stick to water sports and poolside activities during the most intense summer months.
However, it would be a shame to skip out on a trip to the Dallas Zoo simply because of our state's oppressive July weather. The question is, how can you truly enjoy the animals and amenities if you're close to passing out from heat exhaustion?
Well, here are some tips and tricks for the family that might help you out. They won't exactly make your trip refreshing, but they'll help keep the heat at bay so you can truly appreciate the exhibits.
Be the Early Birds
The hottest part of the day is from a little after 12:00 PM until about 5:00 PM. Therefore, do everything within your power to see every exhibit early, especially before mid-afternoon. Trust me, it's doable. The zoo opens at 9:00 AM, so get your hustle on and take advantage of those semi-cool morning hours. The average visitor takes roughly three to four hours to tour the park, so you can definitely accomplish a lot before the heat becomes totally unbearable.
Plus, the animals hate the hottest hours as much as you do, so they tend to be more active earlier on in the day. Showing up as the park opens is really a win-win for everyone.
Check Out the Nighttime Activities
The Dallas Zoo understands that many people can't venture out into the sauna that is Texas in July, so they've made some accommodations to the summer schedule to help people avoid the heat. Although most of their nighttime events for this summer have already passed, there is still one more concert night that you can attend on July 15. Head over to the zoo around 5:00 PM, right as it starts to cool down. You can enjoy live music, drinks, and of course, cooler temperatures as you explore the park. Every year, the zoo offers several of these concerts, so keep your eyes open next summer for some evening entertainment.
Pack as Though You're Embarking on a Hike Through the Desert
Hydration, hydration, hydration. That's what will keep you going. I know it sounds ridiculous, but pack at least two water bottles for each family member. The zoo will allow you to bring in a backpack with your own drinks and snacks, so take advantage of that and come prepared. There are water fountains stationed throughout the park, so you can always refill if necessary, but it doesn't hurt to come armed with plenty of H20.
Also, pay attention to how much of your skin is exposed to the sun. Although it's tempting to wear as little clothing as possible in the blistering heat, that can actually make you hotter if your skin becomes too overheated. Wearing a hat and shielding your skin from harmful rays can actually keep you cooler in the long run.
Come Up With a Plan
Although it's tempting to bounce from one exhibit to the next without much thought, that can be a little dangerous when it's over 95 degrees out. Instead, pick up a map near the entrance and strategize. Want to see the air-conditioned reptile exhibit? Save it for later when you'll desperately need a break from the heat. Planning on spending a lot of time near the giraffes and lions? Schedule a break at the gift shop afterward. A little bit of thinking ahead can go a long way.
Sure, you'll still be sweating, but by following these tips, you just might be able to enjoy this amazing Dallas attraction without burning up completely.