I've decided that I've been in Texas too long to have not seen any of the AZA zoos near me. There's six within driving distance. San Antonio and Cameron Park (Waco) are both an easy day trip from me, but in opposite directions. The Houston Zoo and Moody Gardens and the Dallas Zoo and Fort Worth are all more of a stretch. (I made hour-and-a-half day trips in New England myself with regularity, but have never made three-hour day trips.) The smart thing to do would be to take two extra days, spend a night each in the Metroplex and Greater Houston, and leave refreshed. However I'm both cheap and not possessed of a surfeit of disposable income, so I don't want to spend over a hundred dollars on hotels. What I want to try to do instead--if you haven't already guessed it--is to do the Houston Zoo and Moody Gardens in a single trip, and Dallas and Fort Worth in another. Again, being a Yankee, I want to do this in January, which I think of as "the only time of year the weather in Texas is nice enough for long pants," but of course trying to do this in January means that I can't take advantage of zoos' summer hours. Fortunately, Moody Gardens' two zoological exhibits are open until 8 PM, however Dallas and Fort Worth both close at 4 PM. I'm also not a morning person. The earliest I might leave the house is 7:30 (if I pack the night before and get up at 7:15, which means the earliest I might get to my first zoo is 10). Realistically, I'm terrible at getting out the door on time and usually get places an hour or more later than I intended if I don't have to meet anyone. And then there's the question of getting across large metro areas in the middle of the day, and getting out of them during rush hour. (In DFW I may find a library and chill there until 6:30 or so rather than try to get out of the Metroplex then.) On the other hand, I'm also largely indifferent to most marquee exhibits and hoofstook. I spend my time at zoos trying to find species I don't recall seeing before, watching birds (especially birds that like to climb like parrots and mousebirds), and seeing species I like but have already seen and aren't birds (such as meerkats, prairie dogs, and squirrel monkeys), roughly in that order of priority. I've never spent longer than three hours at a zoo before as an adult, but that's likelu a combination of generally going with family members who have limited patience for the time I like to spend gawking at birds, and being a gigantic lard-ass who can't stand standing for extended periods (walking around is oddly fine, but stopping to stand is where I run into difficulties, so I sit whenever I can). So spending an hour or more in traffic should give my poor feet plenty of time to recover, however large walk-in aviaries usually also have benches I could sit on and still see a fair bit. I guess my questions are: for people who've been to these zoos: 1. Could I see the birds and most unusual attractions in Dallas and Fort Worth--including getting between them--in about six hours? 2. Given the large number of other zoological attractions in DFW, what else would you most recommend if I did two days? (Sadly, while I know two people in Greater Houston I could potentially ask to stay with if I wanted to spend longer there; I don't know anybody in DFW.) 3. Are there any really cheap motels (or better still, camping cabins) around the Metroplex? As in, cheaper than the gas it would take me to drive from Austin to Dallas and back one day, and Fort Worth and back another? 4. Can I see the birds and unique attractions in Houston and Moody Gardens in nine hours, including the time spent driving between them? 5. Are any of the other Greater Houston zoological attractions which are really vital to see? 6. Is Waco's Cameron Park Zoo worth taking time to visit in the middle of the week, or should I just do that on the weekend some time?