Henry Vilas Zoo and UW-Madison

Last night I asked the kids where they would like to go on our day off. The kids all agreed they wanted to go to a zoo. I had always wanted to take the kids to the Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison, WI as I had only been there once before.

We woke up later than usual this morning but the kids kicked it into high gear once they realized we were driving to Madison to go to the zoo. We rolled out of our driveway around 10:30 a.m. and drove the hour to the zoo.

Upon arriving at the zoo the rain started to gently fall and the crowds started thinning. We found a parking spot near the front of the entrance and easily made our way in. The very first thing the kids saw was the souvenir shop. We decided it would be better to shop at the end of our trip so we wouldn’t have to carry trinkets with us.

The Henry Vilas Zoo is a free admission and free parking zoo. There is a small train and carousel to ride at $1.50. You can feed the goats for $.50 for a small handful of pellets. For $7.00 you can mine for rocks and minerals. There are concessions to purchase and of course trinkets.

Our children’s favorite things to experience were being close to the giraffes, the children’s play area, feeding the goats, watching all the different primates, seeing the reptiles, hearing the lion grunt, and being inside the tundra buggy (an off road vehicle used in the arctic).

The kids learned that Bison live in North America and Buffalo are from Africa and Asia. They also find it fascinating to learn which animals are endangered or near extinction. The zoo has a lot of displays listing out facts on why animals are losing their natural habitats, what is causing polar ice caps to melt, what animals eat, where animals live, etc.

Our adventure to the Henry Vilas Zoo was a fun, and cheap, little getaway.

Not far from the Zoo is the UW Madison campus. Our family enjoys visiting universities when we are on vacation. We try to research what fields of study the university provides and what activities are “cool” on campus. Our visit almost always includes a campus bookstore visit.

Today we visited the UW Madison Terrace at the Memorial Union. The terrace sits on the shores of Lake Mendota. The kids and I sat and listened to the chatter all around. We daydreamed about what it would be like to do homework with the sounds of the water splashing and the gentle breeze blowing. The kids loved the idea and decided it would be a relaxing place to do homework.

The Terrace was filled with people waiting patiently for a band to set up. There were smells of brats and chicken grilling and beer flowing from the Brat Stand. My kids spotted the small bags of Doritos…yep, college food!

We moved on to the campus bookstore and State Street for a little shopping. We are always looking for unique clothes to wear to school. We found some fun UW merchandise. Being a former UMN gopher, it was tough to purchase badger clothes but if my kids end up attending a Division 1 school it will be worth it.

Our last stop of the night was Camp Randall Stadium. A few of our neighbors were/are UW football players. Our kids are always curious where the neighbors play football. We have never attended any UW sporting events as a family but we’ll get them there someday.


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