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Visiting the USA's zoos

Discussion in 'United States' started by amur leopard, 6 Apr 2020.

  1. amur leopard

    amur leopard Well-Known Member

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    Following on from the brief discussion in America's Top 100 Zoos & Aquariums, I have made a sort of plan for 4/5 separate trips through the US. Of course, there will be a problem regarding cost, but at this point I guess it is best to disregard that :D

    Anyways, here are the 5 trip plans:

    Day 1: Fly to New York from London
    Day 2: First day walking around Central Park, Guggenheim and Rockefeller Center.
    Day 3: Exploring piers, Intrepid Air and Space museum and Statue of Liberty.
    Day 4: Bronx zoo
    Day 5: Walk up 5th avenue to Metropolitan Museum of Art, then Times Square and Broadway?
    Day 6: AMNH and Central Park again before late night train to Philly.
    Day 7: Historical area - Congress and Independence halls.
    Day 8: Philadelphia zoo
    Day 9: Train to Washington. Walk around Capitol, Washington monument and Lincoln memorial
    Day 10: National zoo?
    Day 11: Fly back to London

    The question for this one I guess is to what extent are the Philadelphia and National zoos worth visiting given the extra costs of both days? If the zoo in Philly isn't worth it, then I'm sure there is enough to do there to justify a visit? Could someone who knows these cities and their zoos well give a fuzzy outline of where they sit in terms of necessity. My impression is that I would visit DC anyway, but perhaps not Philadelphia if the zoos aren't worth it.

    These trips are still a long way off, another 2 years until I actually start planning, while I have another such zoo trip planned for GCSEs in Europe. This one would be after A-levels and then the others would at some point in the (hopefully not too distant) future.

    Species I could see that I have never seen before would include: Peruvian pelican, Little penguin, Coquerel's sifaka, Nubian ibex, Tufted puffin, Bolivian gray titi, Blue-eyed black lemur, Guam rail, Guam kingfisher, Black-footed ferret, Striped skunk and many more.

    I will post the second trip plan in due course, which would be to Chicago and area.
     
    Last edited: 6 Apr 2020
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  2. amur leopard

    amur leopard Well-Known Member

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    OK Here is the plan for the Chicago area trip:

    Day 1: Fly to Chicago
    Day 2: Essentially walk around, maybe go up the Willis tower
    Day 3: Shedd Aquarium
    Day 4: Brookfield zoo
    Day 5 Field Museum and more walking around.
    Day 6: Train to Detroit and have look around. Walk along the lake.
    Day 7: Detroit zoo and late night train to Toledo.
    Day 8: Toledo zoo and again late night train to Columbus
    Day 9: Columbus zoo and late night train to Cincinnati
    Day 10: Cincinnati zoo and late night train to St Louis
    Day 11: Sleep in and visit St Louis, including Botanical gardens and art museum etc.
    Day 12: St Louis zoo and late night train to Kansas city, then bus to Omaha
    Day 13: Omaha zoo.
    Day 14: Train back to Chicago, fly back to London.

    Of course the main issue in this trip is the sheer number of major zoos and late night trains, so sleep will probably be an issue, hence 'Sleep in' :D.
    Is any of this overboard or crazy? Maybe. I guess it all depends on whether all of these zoos are worth visiting, whether Lincoln park is worth it.
    What does everyone think? I would be grateful for any advice/corrections on this one especially (both really).

    Thanks,

    AL :)
     
  3. birdsandbats

    birdsandbats Well-Known Member

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    You could fit Lincoln Park Zoo or Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum into Day 2. Probably not both if you're planning to see other Chicago sights during that day, though.
     
  4. amur leopard

    amur leopard Well-Known Member

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    Yes, maybe. Do you reckon that I will be able to see the zoo while still seeing Chicago properly?
     
  5. birdsandbats

    birdsandbats Well-Known Member

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    Yes, LPZ only takes a few hours to see. Granted, I go to Chicago all the time but have never "seen it properly", I just visit the zoos over and over again.
     
  6. amur leopard

    amur leopard Well-Known Member

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    Ok, then I think I may try and see it. However, I think it might be pertinent to say that I am a very slow zoo visitor, and if I haven't spent the whole day there and have seen everything, I often just go around again to look for the species I haven't seen :D
     
  7. (Adsa)

    (Adsa) Well-Known Member

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    Philadelphia zoo is absolutely worth a visit
     
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  8. CGSwans

    CGSwans Well-Known Member

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    I suggest you start with a basic level of research. For instance, there is no train service to Columbus, late night or otherwise.
     
  9. amur leopard

    amur leopard Well-Known Member

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    Sorry, meant bus, Greyhound runs buses from Detroit to Toledo, Toledo to Columbus, Columbus to Cincinnati, Cincinnati to St Louis and Kansas City to Omaha.
     
  10. Coelacanth18

    Coelacanth18 Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Kansas City Zoo has one of (perhaps *the*) largest and most comprehensive collection of African animals among the North American zoos. If you can squeeze in another day or cut something out it might be worth a visit - especially because Saint Louis Zoo, travel to KC then travel to Omaha is likely to be a ridiculously long day.

    I'm not sure if you really need 2 days in Detroit if you travel from Chicago the evening of Day 5 instead. I haven't been to Detroit, but from what I know about it there's not a lot of things to see/do or walkable neighborhoods. Someone who has visited may be more informed to advise on that, though.

    I will also add that I think Lincoln Park is worth it, especially since admission is free - unless you've already seen all of it before, in which case I would prioritize new places.
     
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  11. amur leopard

    amur leopard Well-Known Member

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    Right so, next one. For this one I am more prepared given the help last year when I was preparing for this summers (it fell through :) )
    However, I have hope for a better trip than the planned one from last year. This one will be more car-centred due to the beauty of the coastal Highway 1 but also the accessibility of places like SDZSP.

    Day 1: Fly to San Francisco
    Day 2: Coit Tower and Golden gate park
    Day 3: Piers and Alcatraz
    Day 4: Golden gate bridge and a walk around Golden gate national recreation area for nice views.
    Day 5: Drive down to Monterey early in the morning, whale watching tour.
    Day 6: Monterey Bay aquarium
    Day 7: Drive all the way down to LA, stopping at Morro Bay for the elephant seals.
    Day 8: Basically walk around LA.
    Day 9: Drive down to San Diego. Go whale watching if Monterey trip was unsuccessful. If not walk around
    Day 10: SDZ
    Day 11: SDZ
    Day 12: SDZSP

    Another few days could be added on to drive out to Tucson and see the ASDM as well as meeting @Arizona Docent if he's around although in this case I wouldn't be needing his kind offer to take me should the situation arise :)

    Only questions are: Is LA zoo worth it? I guess it depends almost entirely on whether they still have the uakaris and the Mountain tapirs. If so, I might have a quick visit, but otherwise, I'm not sure it is worth it.
    And - is it too long? Am I going to be regretting making this trip and coming limping back to tiny Britain with my tail between my legs :D?
    But, in all seriousness, am I underestimating the size of California?
     
  12. amur leopard

    amur leopard Well-Known Member

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    I'll be sure to call in there if I can then, thanks for the info! Is it a whole day's visit or could I travel to Kansas City in the early-ish morning (by Amtrak) and then visit the zoo? I want to try and avoid having to check into 10 hotels on this trip, so night trains and buses are preferable :)

    The free entrance to Lincoln park makes it a bit of a no-brainer - I'm just hoping I don't spend the whole day there, because then that would give me just one day to visit a major city!
    Thanks for the Detroit advice, I'll change that :)

    Edited plan for Chicago and area:

    Day 1: Fly to Chicago
    Day 2: Lincoln park zoo, then have a walk around if there is time.
    Day 3: Shedd Aquarium
    Day 4: Brookfield zoo
    Day 5 Field Museum and train to Detroit
    Day 6: Detroit zoo and late night bus to Toledo.
    Day 7: Toledo zoo and again late night bus to Columbus
    Day 8: Columbus zoo and late night bus to Cincinnati
    Day 9: Cincinnati zoo and late night bus to St Louis
    Day 10: St Louis zoo and late train to Kansas City
    Day 11: Kansas City zoo and late bus to Omaha
    Day 12: Omaha zoo
    Day 13: Train back to Chicago, fly back to London.

    It is now in fact shorter by a day without missing anything thanks to your suggestions, so thanks a lot :)
     
  13. pachyderm pro

    pachyderm pro Well-Known Member

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    I can assure you that Lincoln Park is absolutely worth it. It takes no more than three hours to tour so you can easily combine it with the field museum on the same day.
     
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  14. Coelacanth18

    Coelacanth18 Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Depending on your age, driving experience, and who you might be traveling with there are a few things to know about rental cars in the States:

    1) the minimum age is 21 for all rental agencies, and for many it is 25;
    2) if you're 21-24 and the rental agency will let you rent, it will probably be more expensive than the average rate;
    3) rental agencies may have license requirements (ex. must have had for 1 year); I don't know what the policies are for people who are licensed to drive in other countries.

    The driving times you dedicated look fine; you can drive from SF to SD in a day if you needed to (inland, not along the coast). I wouldn't recommend driving in San Francisco: it's very walkable, has great public transit, and driving/parking will be logistically challenging and (probably) very stress-inducing. On the flip side, I wouldn't recommend *walking* around LA; unlike SF, it is massive, sprawling, and can be uncomfortably hot (especially in the summer), along with having a less comprehensive transit system. If you don't want to see LA Zoo, I would recommend deciding whether or not there is anything else you want to do there (there's plenty to see/do, and some nice neighborhoods to check out) and if not, then just stay the night then head to SD.

    SD, like SF, is very walkable and usually has comfortable temperatures; this includes the area around Balboa Park (the location of the zoo). As you have already noted, SDZSP is actually out in the suburbs and is a different situation.
     
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  15. amur leopard

    amur leopard Well-Known Member

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    I'm glad to hear this, because I was worrying that I would spend way too long in the zoo and the museum and end not seeing any of Chicago itself! Thanks for the advice!
    I would however hesitate to put them both on the same day because they are quite far from each other and there are sights around both which I would love to see, but thanks for the reassurance! :)
     
  16. Coelacanth18

    Coelacanth18 Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    It's actually a day shorter because you cut Saint Louis from two days to one ;) If you had cut the day in Detroit and added KC Zoo, it would have been the same.

    Do whatever you have time for and want to prioritize, but unlike Detroit I *have* been to Saint Louis and personally think it's worth a day exploring Forest Park. The Arch is also great to visit, if you haven't been before; that might make it more of a complete day than just the Park.
     
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  17. TZDugong

    TZDugong Well-Known Member

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    This is a good itinerary, 3 really interesting cities.

    I’d say the National Zoo and Philadelphia zoo are both worth a visit, they aren’t in the upper echelon of North American zoos but are definitely in the second tier. The National Zoo is also free and if I remember correctly, easy to get to on public transit.

    There’s definitely an argument to be made for cutting Philadelphia from the itinerary and focusing just on D.C and New York. 2 days in D.C feels a little short; in your trip plan you failed to mention the Smithsonian museums, which are amazing and demand a day at least.

    This one is EXTREMELY ambitious, especially by public transport. However just looking at the sheer distance you’d have to cover, it doesn’t seem feasible in 2 weeks. For instance, getting from Cincinnati to St.Louis would take 15 hours by public transport. I’d recommend starting in Chicago and then doing the Ohio Zoos or St. Louis, Kansas City (on the way and looks intriguing) and Omaha.

    The Chicago part is broadly fine. I’m of the (somewhat controversial) opinion that the Shedd is a half-day facility and can be combined with either the Field or Lincoln Park. I’m also not sure if it’s possible to get to Brookfield by public transit (there’s a commuter train but I don’t think it runs in the morning?)

    Edit: I just saw your updated itinerary, from a pure zoo-viewing perspective it’s a good idea, but imo a city of the quality of Chicago deserves a whole day to just walk around and explore.

    This sounds like a nice trip, perhaps if you’d really want to visit ASDM and the other Arizona zoos you could cut out San Francisco? I guess it would come down to whether you’d rather visit ASDM or Monterrey.

    I’m not sure about day 8, LA is not exactly a “walkable” city. The La Brea tar pits are in LA and are super interesting, I’d definitely recommend that.
     
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  18. TZDugong

    TZDugong Well-Known Member

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    There isn’t a whole lot to do in Detroit but they do have the Henry Ford Museum, which is one of the craziest and most interesting places I’ve ever been to
     
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  19. amur leopard

    amur leopard Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I found that out when I was looking up how much it would cost. I can understand why they do this - I would never want to be in a car with some of my friends driving at that age - I certainly wouldn't feel safe and nor would the car :D.
    That's why this trip is third in line instead of first, though so I reckon by the time I get around to it I will be well over 21 and probably over 25 :)

    Sorry I forgot to mention that I would be picking up the car just as I left San Francisco to drive down to Monterey - I won't be driving in San Francisco for many reasons, not least that I don't really like cars, my family has never owned one, it has a fantastic transport system and things look much nicer when walking anyway.
    I didn't know LA was so sprawling and pedestrian-unfriendly, so thanks for mentioning that. I guess it comes in handy that I will have the car at that point :)

    I'm not a particular fan of movies, although I do enjoy a good Saturday night film, so I'm not sure I will be visiting Universal/ Warner bros Studios. I guess I'm not interested enough to justify paying the pretty hefty entrance fee. I might have a walk through Beverly Hills and see the Hollywood sign like a real tourist, but I don't think I'll be hanging around in LA for too long. SD on the other hand... :D
     
  20. amur leopard

    amur leopard Well-Known Member

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    Sorry, I've been writing pretty fast and as a result my posts are probably not very accurate. Perhaps I could have an entire day for Cincinnati, then take the bus in the morning to St Louis, visit the arch, the park, maybe the botanical garden etc. and then I don't miss anything!

    As for Detroit, I would love to visit the Henry Ford museum even though I'm not a massive fan of cars, but I don't know when it could be fitted in :(