Tucked deep in the woods of the Trexler Nature Preserve in Schnecksville, Pennsylvania, Lehigh Valley Zoo is home to more than 325 animals representing over 125 species. This zoo has the best of everything: interactive animal experiences, wildlife conservation education, seasonal programs, and fun to be had for all ages.
We decided to visit during their “Ottertoberfest” weekend which is an annual event that includes live German music throughout the day. There was also a selection of gourmet food, craft, and gift vendors stationed throughout the zoo, DIY crafts and activities for children, and the Ottertoberfest Beer Tent with seasonal hard beverages and craft beers.
We talked about making this an annual trip after our visit because the boys absolutely loved the live band and all of the additional festivities. The fall foliage on the drive through the preserve also makes this season a great time to visit.
ARRIVAL & TICKETING
We arrived right at opening at 10 a.m. and had no issues with crowds the entire day. We spent 4.5 hours in the park and could have stayed longer but both boys were spent by then. Zoo hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and I would say you could easily spend a whole day there.
We’re a yearly member of the Bergen Country Zoo in N.J. (review on that coming soon), so as part of the reciprocity program, all six of us got in for free! The cost of admission for adults is $14.50 pp and children are $12.50 pp. so this was a huge saving. If you have a yearly membership to anywhere that might be a part of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, be sure to check out if a discount is available before you arrive.
ZOO MAP & LAYOUT
Once you pay your admission, you will enter the zoo and are welcomed by the cutest African penguin exhibit. Such an adorable start to the day.
Let me note now that the giraffes are located on the other side of the zoo. You will not want to miss the giraffe feeding! I recommend buying the Giraffe Feeding Tickets when you first enter the zoo. They’re available for sale at the Nature Store or several other vendors when you enter. This will save you some backtracking. I recommend buying a ticket for 1 – 1 1/2 hours from when you enter the zoo so you can walk at a leisurely pace and avoid needing to rush through areas to make your giraffe appointment.
After watching the penguins dive around, we walked to the left towards the reptile/amphibian center. I would recommend walking this way because then you will end at the main pavilion where you can take a break for lunch.
The zoo is relatively flat and was very easy to navigate with a double stroller. There are plenty of ramps and space for parking near exhibits.
You can walk one big loop to catch all of the animals. There is also Preston’s Pad Nature Play and a playground where kids can run wild.
Be sure to grab a weekly zoo schedule when you enter the park. Each of the interactive experiences requires tokens ($1/each), except for the giraffe feeding ($4/each) which requires a separate ticket.
Giraffe feeding: Guys, this is awesome! You are given three pieces of lettuce to feed the giraffe. You stand right in front of him and he just sticks out his long, slimy tongue and you just put it on there. Great photo opp and thrilling for all ages.
Lorikeet Landing: These are some hungry birds! You are given a little cup of nectar and once you walk into the fenced-in room the birds go crazy. It was hard not to jump and squeal in excitement, but it’s important to keep calm so as not to frighten them. We had a good laugh at this experience.
There is also a goat experience, barnyard tours, and kangaroo Q&A that we missed, as well as different weekly highlights.
There are also token machines where you can buy food to feed the goats and ducks. The kids go crazy for this!
THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
- We had no problem bringing in food and snacks for the boys, but food is also available for sale at Geakers at the Zoo. Food is reasonably priced. We paid $25 for two taco meals and two orders of fries.
- If you are a zoo member, you get discounts on the giraffe experience and food vendors. If you’re a member, ask if you qualify for a discount before you buy anything.
- Bring lots of hand sanitizer. They have machines everywhere, but you just can’t have enough after touching so many of the animals.
- The only downside to our visit is that it’s bee season they were real pests. There’s nothing you can really do to avoid this, but if you or someone with you has a bee allergy, be forewarned that you will encounter them if visiting during the Fall.
As you leave the zoo, you will follow a scenic drive through the Trexler Nature Preserve which includes a ride over the Jordan Creek. You can also spot bison and elk in herds along the drive out.
But if you’ve had a full day like we did, your kids likely won’t make it out of the parking lot without taking a snooze.
If you live nearby the Lehigh Valley area, I highly recommend checking out this amazing zoo. They were also stringing lights all throughout the park, and I’m certain it will be magical during the holidays.
What are your favorite zoos to visit? Share in the comments below!