Summer is an extremely popular time to visit Como Park Zoo & Conservatory. Yes, you might have to fight a few crowds — especially on the weekends — but the attractions are, in our opinion, worth it. This season, Como is at its best with carousel rides, live music, lawn games, summer blooms and more. Here are ten things to put on your checklist to make a day of it when visiting the animals:
- A FREE Como shuttle runs daily June 9-Aug 6 and weekends through Oct 1 (with the exception of State Fair time). Skip the challenge of finding a spot in one of the Zoo lots and instead park at the State Fair lot south of Como Avenue. The accessible shuttle runs 9:30am-6:30pm and drops off a short walk from the visitor center entrance.
- Como Lil Explorer Thursdays have been extended through Summer 2018 to bring weekly themed activities to the 4-and-under set. Think sand tables, sponge painting, worm digs and interactive storytimes. Weekly, 10am-noon. FREE.
- The Marjorie McNeely Conservatory bursts with color during the annual Summer Flower Show.
- Groovin in the Garden brings live bands to the grounds in front of the Conservatory Wednesday evenings, June 6-August 1, 6-8pm. Food, treats and drinks are available for purchase or pack a picnic and bring a blanket along for a summer dinner with music. Kids are entertained with a bounce house, lawn games and a climbing wall. FREE.
- Take advantage of the warm weather and meander through the Ordway Japanese Gardens. Its peaceful paths, plants and rock bridges may even chill out your kids! Open daily with Conservatory hours.
- The annual Como Park Japanese Obon Festival brings a collection of Japanese music, dancing, drumming, martial arts and other aspects of the culture to Como. At dusk, lanterns are lit throughout the garden as a symbol of peace. The festival takes place Aug 19, 3-9pm. Admission is $3-5/pp.
- Como Town Amuseument Park next door offers a great mix of rides and attractions that will appeal mainly to kids ages 2-12. They range from the extra-gentle choo-choo train to the Tiger Trax junior roller coaster (and we even know a few adults who really enjoyed the Soaring Eagle zip line). It’s also possible to purchase admission ($5 per child) to play in Hodge-Podge park with its flashy splash pad. Summer special events this year include Monday Funday packages and discount Dress-Up Wednesdays.
- Take a spin on the antique Cafesjian’s Carousel – $2 per rider over 1 year, Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day, 11am-4pm weekdays and 11am-6pm weekends. Ride FREE on the following dates in 2018: May 14, June 18, July 16, Aug 13 & Sept 17.
- Play a round at Putt’er There Mini Golf open Memorial Day through Labor Day, Mon-Sat: 10am-10pm and Sun: 11am-9pm. Choose to play either 9 holes ($3/pp) or all 18 ($6/pp).
Sparky the Sea Lion performs daily at his pool inside Como Zoo. Catch his antics 11:30am weekdays and both 11:30am & 3pm weekends.Sparky will be taking a break from shows in 2018 while his new habitat is under construction.
FFTC is partially sponsored this summer by kidsWATER.
Warm weather is FINALLY here, and that means long days in the sun and thirsty kids. This summer, take a step towards a healthier life for your family by offering water instead of juice, soda, or sports drinks. Introducing kidsWATER, an unsweetened fruit essence water packaged in a fun and convenient drink box. Take it anywhere without worrying about making a mess or leaving a sticky residue. Free from all sugars, preservatives, and dyes, this is a drink you can feel good about giving to your kids. kidsWATER is now available at all Kowalski’s, Lakewinds, and Lunds & Byerly’s locations.