Last Sunday it was sunny and just a bit chilly, so we decided to do something outdoors for Charlie's birthday, which was the next day. We hadn't yet visited the London Zoo, so decided to take the water taxi from Little Venice.
If you are ever visiting London and want to go to the zoo, this is the way to do it, in my humble opinion. Getting to the zoo by public transport is a bit tricky - you can go to one of a few tube stops and walk a bit and take a bus from there. Kind of a pain. Or, you can go to the Warwick Avenue tube stop and have a nice boat ride to the zoo. They sell you your zoo ticket right on the boat and you walk up the pier and right into the zoo's property. No lines, very easy.
We have ridden the water taxi one other time, when we went to Camden Market, and Charlie loved it. He'd jump in the water with all the ducks if we'd let him. Unrelated: I have got to get this kid signed up for swimming lessons soon.
The zoo is nice, though probably not as grand as you'd expect for a major city like London. I feel like the ticket prices are a bit steep for what you get, as well. But it's definitely geared towards children and you could easily spend all day there with kids and never run out of things to look at or do.
If they get sick of exhibits, there's a carousel, bounce house, slide, playgrounds, big green spaces for running, etc. There's even a children's zoo exhibit where you can watch the zookeepers feed the animals. That was neat. I mean, the animals being fed were some birds and a relative of the North American raccoon (I hate raccoons) but Charlie was fascinated watching them eat.
We also got to see some monkeys out in the open, running around their exhibit eating. There are zoo volunteers that spray them with a little water if they start pestering the visitors too much. Apparently, those smart monkeys have figured out that strollers = food.
Some monkeys weren't as interested in eating, though. Spring was in the air that day.
I think our favorite exhibits were the tigers and the giraffes. Brad is quite pleased with his tiger photos.
The penguins also have a new exhibit with lots of seating so you can watch them for a while. Something like 10 different types of penguins. That was fun. Just as was the case at the aquarium, Charlie wanted to get IN and SWIM with the penguins. That's when we back away from the glass and leave the penguin area, before Charlie starts getting creative.
We ended up eating lunch at the big cafe near the entrance of the zoo, which had lots of kid friendly stuff at ridiculous prices and a very slow line. If I was to ever go back to this zoo, I would take a picnic lunch. There are so many tables and green space to lay out a blanket. And then you'd have no wait and not have to mess with the cafe and their standard choices of: fish and chips, a curry and pasta.
After lunch we promised Charlie he could ride the merry go round before we went home. My favorite part of that was the tough looking biker dude, who was wearing a leather jacket that said "Short Bus Window Lickers" (I am not kidding) calling out so sweetly for his little girl, all dressed in pink and purple, to pose for pictures. When the ride was over, he told her they were going to the butterfly exhibit next and he sounded SO excited. It was kind of adorable, seeing the soft side of a tough-looking person. But I really think he needs a new jacket before his little princess learns to read.
Charlie was exhausted by the time we were done with the merry go round, so we went to catch the water taxi home. He napped and then we opened presents and had cupcakes. Well, what was left of the cupcakes, but that's another post. :)