While on vacation in Santa Barbara, Calif., My Traveling Troop spent most of our free time at the hotel pool and nearby beach. But after a few days, we could tell our daughter Bella needed a break from the chlorine, sand and salty sea.
The Santa Barbara Zoo was the perfect alternative for a toddler like our daughter. The animals were in areas that were easy to view for pint-sized kids. And in some cases, the animals were close enough for Bella to reach out and touch -- unless, of course, they had sharp teeth like a lion.
|A glass wall let us get up close to a gorilla.|
|Adults and kids can feed the giraffes by hand for a fee.|
The zoo isn’t mammoth in size, so it was easy to walk around the grounds and feel like you could see it all -- even with a toddler in tow. But why walk when you can take a train?
|My Traveling Troop riding a miniature train at the zoo.|
The red, miniature train took us around the perimeter of the zoo, enabling us to catch stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and the Andree Clark Bird Refuge, a wetland that provides a safe haven for birds.
A parent sitting in front of us got her kids some freshly-popped popcorn before hopping on the train. The popcorn smelled so good that it distracted me for a couple of minutes and I almost missed my first ever sighting of a condor. Thankfully, I looked up at the giant bird just in time to catch it spread it's wings.
The train leaves the station every half hour. So, if you don't want to wait in line that long with your kids, check out the playground nearby. It's a great place to keep an eye out on the line that is forming while your kids are having fun riding turtles, climbing ropes and pretending to be a baby bird getting ready to hatch from an egg.
Is there a zoo you love to visit with your kids?