What’s New at The Philadelphia Zoo – Details on the New LEGO Exhibit, Return of the Zoo Key, Outdoor Dining and More!

Disclosure: My family and I were invited to visit the zoo for a Media Event featuring the return of the zoo key and LEGO Creatures of Habitat Exhibit. All opinions are my own.


It’s been a good 6 years since my last visit to the Philadelphia Zoo with my youngest.  Last visit I attended as a homeroom parent with my daughter’s kindergarten class and I remember it being a lovely outing. But now that my kids are getting older (27, 16 and 12), we do not think about going to the zoo as often as we did when they were toddlers.  There was something about the return of the zoo key that really got me thinking about heading back to the zoo and I was beyond thrilled when my family and I were invited to attend the Media Opening of the new LEGO Creatures of Habitat exhibit and return of the Philadelphia Zoo key last weekend.

When it comes to raising my kids, I am all about tradition.  I have exposed them to as many things from my childhood as possible and they always seem to really enjoy reliving the fun.  When I asked them if they would like to take a family trip to the zoo to try the zoo keys for themselves and to enjoy a fun family day out, I will admit I was a bit worried that they may not be too interested.  Much to my surprise they were quite intrigued by all of my fuss and excitement about the return of my beloved zoo key and they were actually excited to head to the zoo to do some exploring and enjoy some family time. Saturday came and not only were we blessed with absolutely perfect weather, we found that visiting in the afternoon made for slightly less crowds and an overall perfect afternoon.

Upon entering the zoo, we were each given a zoo key to unlock the many talking audiobooks throughout the zoo (Keys can be purchased for $3 each at local gift shops throughout the zoo).  We decided to “wing it” as we enjoyed our self guided tour and make our way around the zoo.  It was quite relaxing and much easier than I remember to navigate our way through with older kids.  The kids were happy to just make our way in and out of the exhibit halls and not only enjoy the various animals and reptiles, but also take in the overall beauty of the zoo and it’s lovely cherry blossoms in bloom, lush landscaping and overall history.

We took our time reading the informational charts about each animal.  I’m pretty sure we were all mind blown by the ages of the Galpagos tortoises, which can live more than 100 years! The Mommy Galpagos at the zoo hatched in 1928, making her 90 years old! So amazing! I honestly do not remember having the time or patience with my toddlers to really enjoy the little things so the more time we spent here, the more I appreciated all that the zoo had to offer – and I realized what an enjoyable experience this is for adults and older children!

As we made our way to the first of many LEGO Creatures of Habitat exhibits and zoo key audiobooks, my daughter literally raced over to the audiobook to try it out for herself.  The audiobooks can be found situated next to the 12 Creatures of Habitat vignettes as well as throughout the zoo as well as various other locations. Each of the 12 amazing life-size LEGO brick vignettes, each intricately created  from thousands of LEGO bricks by Artist Sean Kenney, seem to come to life through the audiobook tales.


The LEGO Creatures of Habitat exhibit will remain open through September 30, 2019 and brings attention to the issues animals are facing around the world and spotlights the heroes working to save them. I was told by the PR representative from the Philadelphia Zoo that the audiobooks and zoo key are planning to be a more permanent fixture that should stay around for a long time. (Let’s hope because they are just as awesome as I remember them as a kid!) For those of you with original Elephant shaped zoo keys, dig them out and bring them along – they will work in all of the audiobook boxes!  For those looking to purchase one of the new zoo keys, the new keys feature red and purple lions, gorillas and bears.  Unfortunately you will not be able to buy an elephant key this time around, but I will attest that the new ones are just as cool!


I have to admit, walking all over the zoo certainly helped us to build up an appetite, so we were super excited to check out The Urban Green, a new open-air food marketplace and chill zone. Complete with tables with colorful umbrellas perfect for dining and relaxing, The Urban Green offers food trucks with an array of delicious options from fresh, delicious sandwiches and custom fries to frequently changing craft beers and vibrant wines. Featuring outdoor seating, eclectic artwork, a vertical farm, play and chill zones for all, The Urban Green is an amazing new alfresco spot you will not want to miss.

During our visit, we were treated to a tasting of many of the menu items, and each and everything we tried was fresh and delicious.  You can take a peek at The Urban Green menus HERE. The Urban Green is also available for private party rentals and would be a lovely spot for work meetings or personal get togethers.  The vertical farm (which is still in progress) will provide locally grown and sustainable sources of food for all of the Zoo’s animals to continue to ensure their well being. The Urban Green is open Monday – Friday 10:30 am to 3:30 PM and Saturday and Sunday 10:30 am to 5:00 pm.


Additionally, the zoo now also features The Watering Hole, an adorable open-air beer and wine garden.  Like the Urban Green, this is yet another awesome space for guests to chill, grab a specialty beer and tasty treat while enjoying the outdoors. This  trendy new spot features reclaimed conversation-style seating, brightly-colored fabric umbrellas, lush landscaping, environmentally-friendly LED lighting and terra-cotta mosaic décor. Here you can enjoy good conversation  paired with light fare such as hot dogs, bratwurst, pulled pork sandwiches, house-made chips,  or pretzels accompanied by draft or canned beer. The Watering Hole is open daily 11:00 am to 4:00 PM.

I must admit, the more time we spent at the zoo, the more impressed I was.  Although the Philadelphia Zoo is the oldest zoo in the country and home to nearly 1,300 animals, I was blown away by how they have really taken things up a notch not only with the return of the zoo key and audiobooks, but also with the other awesome new additions that really cater to guests of all ages. For those of you with Pokémon fans, there are over 30 Pokéstops and five Gyms throughout the zoo, making it perfect place to catch em’ all! Another fun activity for the whole family are the Swan Boats on Bird Valley. Patrons can paddle their way around Bird Lake in the Zoo’s swan boats, each one built for two to three people. This activity will provide boatloads of summer fun for everyone. Boat rides are open from late spring through early fall. Additionally from March-October and November-February, visitors can take a spin on The Zoo’s enchanting all-wooden, hand-carved and hand-painted carousel. The Amazon Rainforest Carousel includes 30 bird, reptile, mammal and amphibian “seats,” as well as two spinning snake chariots. Riders of all ages will have fun discovering and understanding the importance of preserving the Amazon Rainforest while being treated to sounds of the Amazon, gliding along on animals such as jaguars and anacondas. There really is something fun for everyone here!

The Philadelphia Zoo is the perfect outing for people of all ages! As you can see and read from our most recent visit, the zoo is just as enjoyable for older kids and adults as it is for younger children! Thinking out of the box with all of the fun new additions and offerings, the zoo is also perfect for date night, Girls Night Out or a beautiful outdoor oasis to hang, sip and relax! Stay turned for details on a fun Philadelphia Zoo Summer Ale Festival this summer as well!  I am certainly looking forward to heading back again soon!

The Philadelphia Zoo is located at 3400 W. Girard Avenue Philadelphia, PA.  Philadelphia Zoo is open every day of the year except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day. For more information and to purchase tickets visit www.philadelphiazoo.org.






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