What to Expect at the Blank Park Zoo


Blank Park Zoo Des MoinesWith over 30 acres of fun Blank Park Zoo is one of our favorite places to visit in the Des Moines metro.

The best part? It’s walkable even with young children AND it is open year round. The kids and I can spend about 2-3 hours seeing the entire zoo. If you don’t have that long, you can also do a quick loop in an hour. 

Insider tip: Pack snacks and stop at the playground just outside the zoo for a picnic before entering.

Blank Park Zoo

I let my kids be the leaders for the day! They enjoy being in charge and almost always start at the indoor Discovery Center – they love crossing the bridge. Next, is the Sea Otters and Australia Exhibit. After seeing the Wallabies, we ride the train. This is $2 for members or $3 for non-members. (On Monday the train is free for members)

Kids Kingdom

Kids Kingdom is around the corner from the train. It is the place we spend the most time. With a giant playground, Koi Pond, and farm animals, this is where my boys burn off their energy. After feeding the goats and fish ($2), we use the hand-washing stations before advancing to the sea lions.

The zoo has animals from around the world and the Amur Tiger is always a favorite! It’s one of our favorite exhibits with its super cool safari jeep. Again, my boys could play here for a very long time.

Up next is the Gibbons and personally, my favorite exhibit! They are just so cute! Across from the Gibbons is a small Nature play area and sensory garden. My kids love stacking the logs and playing on the caterpillar.

By this time, my kids are hangry! During the summer months, the Safari Grill is open daily and offers a variety of concession-type foods (hot dogs, burgers, and fries). There are picnic tables, shade trees and restrooms making it a great place to take a small break. Outside food is not allowed, but they do have vending machines available.

Depending on my kids’ behavior, we may take a left and head for the exit OR head straight for Africa! This area of the zoo also has cute spots for the kids to play. There is a little hut by the rhinos, a globe, and a small drum set.

Exiting Africa, the baboons are next and one of the last animals, but don’t forget the carousel and small play area across from it. Carousel rides are $2 for members or $3 for non-members.

As you are about to leave, don’t forget to visit the Gift Shop. Sometimes there is a zoo keeper near the exit with an animal kids can touch.

Always check the website for the zoo’s daily activities. One of our favorites is the Seal & Sea Lion training demonstration. The zoo keeper chats are another great activity.

Extra fun: Face painting hut, camel rides, and animal feedings

Hours: 10 am to 4 pm; May 25 to September 2 open 9 am to 5 pm.

What is your favorite part about the Blank Park Zoo?


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