The Toronto Zoo is a classic Ontario day trip. Located just under 1.5 hours from Trenton (about 140km), it is an awesome destination at just about any time of year, but I particularly love to visit the Toronto Zoo in winter. And with the Giant Pandas just three short weeks away from moving to their new home in Calgary, this winter is an especially great time for a visit. So ‘why winter?’ you might ask…. Here are my top 7 reasons why THIS winter is the BEST time to visit the Toronto Zoo.
1) The Giant Pandas
The Giant Pandas are due to move on to their new home in just a few short weeks so now is your very last chance to get a glimpse of these adorable animals. You’ve probably seen tons of media coverage on the pandas and maybe a few hilarious video montages of their escapades. And you might be asking, ‘what’s all the fuss?’ when it comes to these critters. Well, let me say I was pretty excited to check out the baby pandas on my recent visit and they did NOT disappoint. We had a super up-close view of the two of them as they wrestled, rolled and tumbled up and down the hill in their exhibit. Even with the crowd that had formed, we were still able to get front row ‘seats’. Which brings me to my next point….
2) Skip the Crowds!
Of course summer seems like the logical time for a trip to the zoo. BUT, the Toronto Zoo can be, well, an absolute zoo in summer. On the other hand, the smaller crowds in winter mean easily finding a parking spot, short line-ups for food, no waiting around for bathrooms, and no need to throw elbows to see your favourite animal. So basically, less frustration + more time for fun. Perfect.
3) Baby Rhinos
Another reason why this particular winter is so magical?… there are TWO BABY RHINOS!!! The Rhinos are growing fast so now is the perfect time to see them in their brand-new, adorable state.
4) Active Animals
Have you ever been to the zoo on a summer day only to find that most of the animals are hiding off in the shade and/or fast asleep? Not super exciting. BUT, on the cooler winter days the animals tend to be more active making for some amazing moments. On my recent visit, the pandas weren’t the only ones putting on a show. We also had a great view of the Polar Bears as they wandered and swam in their exhibit. And over in the African Savannah, we figured most animals would be off display for the winter, but nope! Instead we saw playful giraffes, lions and even the cheetah was out for a wander in the snow.
5) Lots to See, even in Nasty Weather
Even on a freezing or rainy day, there is still plenty to see and do. We visited this past Family Day and the weather got progressively more wet and cold as the day went on. BUT, we stayed warm, mostly dry, and very entertained by traveling from one indoor pavilion to the next. There was no shortage of things to see, from crocs to snakes to a pygmy hippo, which my son (2.5 years) was super excited about. In fact, one of the highlights of his day was one of the giant indoor fish tanks.
6) It’s Cheaper!
Did you know that the Toronto Zoo actually has lower rates in the winter?! Up until May 4th it costs about $22 less for a family of 4 to visit than it does in the summer! Individual adults and seniors save $6 in the winter, and children save $5. So, if you are on a tight budget, but still want to make the trip, winter might just be the perfect time. For more detailed information about admission costs, you can visit the zoo website, here.
7) Great Spot for Winter Exercise
With over 10km of paved paths, the Toronto Zoo is the perfect stroller-friendly spot to take a walk. The paths are really well maintained, making them a great alternative to neighbourhood sidewalks where ice and snow mounds can make winter walking very frustrating. It’s also the perfect, safe place to let toddlers and preschoolers run and explore. With lots of fun features, like the giant log tunnel above, little ones are actually motivated to get some outdoor exercise, even in the cold.
Still not convinced that winter is the best time for a trip to the Toronto Zoo?? Honestly, the only way to really understand the beauty of the Toronto Zoo in winter is to experience it for yourself. With March Break just around the corner and the pandas packing their bags for Calgary, this might just be the perfect time to make the trip and experience the magic for yourself 🙂
The Toronto Zoo is open from 9:00am to 6:00pm daily during March Break.
For March Break events and programming at the Zoo, click here.
Have you visited the Toronto Zoo this Winter? Do you know of another great day trip for families coming from the Quinte Region? If so, I’d love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below or contact me!