Our Day Out at the Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens

Hurricane Matthew made its way through Northeast Florida late last week, thankfully only leaving my family with minor tree damage, three days out of school and two children begging to get out of the house.

With the hurricane, the weather finally turned to Fall and we had spent enough time doing yardwork – we needed to have some fun. With my coupon in hand, I packed up the girls and we headed for the Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens.


I had high hopes that the animals would also be happy about the nicer weather — just as much as we were — and I was right! Clear skies and early morning temperatures meant for active animals and extra happy kiddos.

Maggie is really into animals right now and she loved telling me about the different ones we saw throughout our visit. It was the type of outing where I stepped back and let my girls lead the way.


From the giraffe overlook to the African plains and the Range of the Jaguar exhibit – it was a day of exploration. After being ‘hunkered down’ in the house for days thanks to the hurricane, we couldn’t have been happier to spend the day together at the zoo.

The smiles and the excitement — it made everything worth it. It was a day of reconnecting. A day without iPads and tablets, because lets’ be honest — stuck inside for days means a lot of screen time. We were surrounded by nature, gardens and beautiful animals.


I even managed to sneak in a bit of learning too, as we stopped along the way to speak with zoo education specialists and Maggie practiced her reading skills by reading the informational signs out loud to us. So, hooray for an educational outing too.

I may have squealed the most when we made our way to the Range of the Jaguar exhibit and saw these beautiful creatures up-close. Onca was out and about — super active — and I couldn’t put my camera down. Doesn’t she just look beautiful? And almost cuddly?


While we’ve visited our hometown Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens many times over the years, not to mention it is the zoo I grew up visiting as a kid, our Hurricane day was special. I was thankful for no direct damage from the storm and thankful to have an extra day of fun with my girls. We certainly made some great memories.

Zoos make the perfect outing with kiddos! Don’t you agree?


** We paid our own admission to visit the zoo. I’m sharing this story as a recollection of our fun day. **


Hi there!

I'm Carrie McLaren,

based in Jacksonville, Fla. Family travel is my passion and I want to help you succeed in making fantastic memories with your family.




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