We’ve been Maryland Zoo members since my oldest son had to be held up to the glass in the crocodile enclosure, and you can find us there all the time on spring and summer weekends. Once the first frost hits, though, you’d probably think that even loyal zoo members would opt for indoor activities. Strangely enough, the zoo is a great place to visit on milder winter days, even if you’re not a member. Here’s why you should visit The Maryland Zoo in the winter…

snatch up dirt-cheap tickets

Not interested in paying the normal zoo rate of eighteen bucks per adult? In January and February, all tickets – both adult and child – are only ten dollars each. (As usual, kids under 2 can visit the zoo for free.) If you’re not a member, and you’re visiting with two adults and three paying kids (like we are), you end up paying only $50 instead of $75. That’s a $25 savings! Bringing Grandma and Grandpa along to enjoy the grandkids? Your savings just jumped to over $40.

visit the right animals – some are more active when it’s cold!

Sure, some animals are moved indoors for the winter. Some others are off-exhibit entirely. But that doesn’t mean that you should cross the zoo off your activity list. The newly renovated penguin exhibit is open throughout the winter. The primates are also usually quite active, just indoors instead of in their large outdoor enclosure. In that same area, you can see the Panamanian golden frogs, as well as the crocodiles – one of my kids’ favorite attractions! In the kids’ section of the zoo, the reptiles and other small animals in the caves and tree exhibits are also around throughout the winter.

Best of all, a handful of animals are actually even more active in the wintertime since they hail from the Arctic tundra. Make sure to visit the Arctic exhibit housing the polar bears, arctic fox, raven, and bald eagle.

Some animals are off-exhibit only when the cold hits hard, but if you visit on a milder day, you’ll be able to watch them in their full glory. For example, the rhinos and zebras may be outside on a slightly warmer winter day, as well as the lions and the giraffes.

use your membership right

If you’re already a zoo member, or if you’re considering buying membership, belonging to the zoo has other advantages in the wintertime. During the months of January and February, you can visit the B&O Railroad Museum and the Baltimore Museum of Industry for free. My kids wait for January all year so that we can visit the child-friendly train museum, because they know I’ll never cough up the crazy-high entrance fee the rest of the year! The Baltimore Museum of Industry is geared more towards older kids (grade school and up) and adults, but I’m hopeful that my second grader will enjoy it this year. Port Discovery also offers reciprocal benefits, providing zoo members with half price admission during January and February.

So whether you’re a member or a newbie to the zoo scene, consider putting the zoo back on your list of possible activities for winter days off or mild weekends. It’s a different experience, but one that your kids won’t forget!

Image courtesy of The Maryland Zoo’s Facebook page.