You know what they say about plans: They’re pretty much bound to fail. (My apologies to Robert Burns for murdering that quote.) So when I decided to take my five-year-old nephew to Brookfield Zoo for a fun birthday outing, I should have known that Mother Nature would do her best to ruin things.
Well, take that, Mother Nature – you’re not the only one who knows how to spoil plans. Because even when it’s pouring rain, there are plenty of ways to have fun at Brookfield Zoo. Here are the four that we discovered on a rainy Wednesday. (Pro tip: hand the kids the map and let them be the navigators.)
Find your Jurassic joy
Dinos& Dragons, Brookfield’s newest attraction that will be sticking around through the summer, is perfect for kids who are smack-dab in the middle of their dino phase. And better yet, part of it is inside an enclosed tent, so you can avoid the raindrops while you eye some living-and-breathing dragons such as a Black-throated Monitor or Komodo dragon, dig up dinosaur bones like a real paleontologist, or put on a knight-themed puppet show. And don’t worry: the outdoor trail of animatronic beasts is totally umbrella-friendly.
Go for a spin
Interaction with any animals – even the wooden kind – is always a plus when you’re at the zoo. We enjoyed a ride on Brookfield’s beloved, and covered, carousel, which is one of the largest hand-carved wooden merry-go-rounds in the country. The Carousel features 72 animals, some of which are highly endangered, so you can have your pick. We opted for a frog, which only made sense given the downright amphibious weather.
Play the day away
All I can say is, thank goodness for the Hamill Family Play Zoo. (Can I get an amen?) This mecca for busy kiddos brings the fun of the zoo indoors, with hands-on opportunities to experience the animal kingdom. Kids will love painting their faces to resemble their fave creatures, building an animal home or planting something green to take home. We spent the majority of our time in the animal hospital treating a penguin’s ailments and playacting as a harried zoo director – which inspired plenty of aww-worthy Instagram pics.
Although we wanted to check out the polar bears (him) and giraffes (me), we ended up gravitating toward the animals that live inside. In our case, it was the always-entertaining primates who captured our attention – and inspired a lengthy discussion about why the aged gorillas like to stay away from the playful “kids” (a certain five-year-old could not grasp the concept). And while it’s always fun – and less stinky – to see the animals in the fresh air, lots of your zoo favorites do spend their time inside, especially when it’s raining.