Through a little random internet stumbling the other day, I discovered that the Birmingham Zoo would be holding what they call $5 Fun Days August 10-11 and 17-18. During these dates, their regular admission tickets (usually $14) were discounted to only $5 so we decided to use this great price point to make ourselves a fun road trip!
We arrived a little later than the 9am gate opening but the day was overcast and it was still early enough that we had a few hours before becoming so hot that we’d have to see the remainder of the creatures through a haze of a Georgia Heat induced stoke.
While the admission tickets were only $5, there are other options that you can choose to make your trip more exciting. We decided not to fork out for the extra wristband since it included more juvenile escapades like the carousel, train ride, foam playground, and giraffe feeding. In hindsight, I really think we would have enjoyed the feeding and the train ride and prices on both separately from the wristband was only $2.30. We did decided to pay the $5.50 for the Dino DIscovery though and did not regret it.
After carefully planning our park wandering strategy (which consisted of “I really wanna see BLANK”, “I give up, let’s just wander” and “WE HAVE TO DO THE CAMEL RIDES!!”), we made our way over to watch the Wildlife Show. Despite the crowds, we managed to grab a small corner of a steel bleacher and waited for the show begin. We witnessed stubborn woodchucks, rat snakes, and I even made eye contact with an owl.
I found that the paths were not very well marked and seemed to meander in all different directions. Perhaps this lends to the feeling of discovery as I did feel mildly lost among the shouting children pressing their hands and faces to the glass, the stressed out shouting parents, and only semi-interested animals.
Within and without the air-conditioned buildings sprinkled about were awesome creatures of all sizes. The smaller enclosures all of the animals inhabited almost guaranteed that we’d get a glimpse of each one (as long as they weren’t sleeping, which a lot were) and encounters felt much more personal than with other zoos I’ve had the chance to visit.
We tried to check out the Predator Zone animal training show but no matter how close I was pushed, my 5′ 1″ height would not allow me to see much. The trainers were apparently using meat “snacks” and milk to show animal husbandry behaviors by making them do basic training-type tricks. They stood up, pressed their bodies against the gate, and allowed themselves to be sprayed with flea spray.
Next up was were the camel rides. For a separate ticket price of $5.50 you too can be led around a circle atop a live camel while small crowds point and your significant other takes pictures. My boyfriend was very excited by the thought of this, most of his excitement spawning from the recently popular Hump Day Geico Camel commercials, so I assumed he would be one doing the riding. Instead I guess he just wanted to stand near them and say hump day, much to my annoyance. Not one to turn down an uncomfortable activity, I promptly offered to hop in the saddle.
^ PROOF! ^
Not an overall terrible experience and his hump was surprisingly comfortable. I like to think that camel and I bonded, rider and steed, just a little.
Next up on our to do list was lunch since neither of us had eaten breakfast and all of the animals were making us hungry. Not to say that we were going to eat them, but it was definitely time to make a pit stop. The zoo was also having a $1 hotdog special at the Safari Cafe so we bought two, some fries and a water, grabbed a table, and had a nicely shaded lunch beneath Safari Peek.
We continued to wander around but honestly, birds, reptiles, bugs, and fish don’t hold much interest for me. That is, until we reached the Dino Discovery. These monsters were true to size (I assume?), the sounds realistic, and the animatronics well executed. Rounding the corner, I met a T-Rex eye-to-eye and was frightened so bad jumped and let out a small scream, much to the amusement of others standing around. Loved seeing them at home between foliage, care for babies, and catching dinner. I got a little carried away taking pictures of them behind us.
Last on our list of Must Dos was the Red Diamond Sea Lion Splash Show. We caught the last show of the day so it was completely packed. I’ll tell you, there is absolutely nothing fun about being smashed together with strangers on metal bench and I’m pretty sure that 98% of said strangers were not accustomed to the necessity of deodorant in 90 degree weather. The trainer in charge of announcing had a very high voices and was a little grating. It’s okay though, because the REAL star of the show was a talented sea-lion who made it incredibly difficult not to find enjoyment while watching him perform his well taught tricks.
Overall, we had a good time. I would have liked to try the train ride and giraffe feeding I’ve gotta save something for next time, right?
Since we were already out of town and it was still early, we decided try to find something else fun to experience nearby. Using Foursquare’s Explore option, we discovered a neat little desert pop shop appropriately named Steel City Pops.
This has to be one of the coolest (no pun intended!) little sweet shops I’ve had the pleasure of visiting. Their store front has a clean, industrial feel to it and they have SO many flavors to choose from! Found out from their website that all of the popsicles are also healthy/organic, gluten-free, and have no refined sugars! The boyfriend went with the Vanilla Bean sweet pop and I went with the Sweet Tea pop.
AMAZING!! I love hot tea with natural honey and this tasted just like that but with the prefect amount of lemon. I really wish Columbus, GA had a little place like this and if we did, you would find me there all summer long!
Last on our romp was a brewery called Avondale Brewing Company.
Located in a sort of sketchy and directionally confusing part of town, it’s housed in an old brick building with a huge fenced in backyard setup with a cornhole sets, a large stage, and an outside bar.
We didn’t stay too long but we did order the Spring Street Saison and a Miss Fancy’s Tripel.
Both were delicious and I’ll definitely be ordering the next time I find myself at a craft beer bar!
Finished the trip with dinner at a Whataburger be had passed on the way to the zoo.
It was our first time eating at one and won’t be the last! We even managed to run into someone also from Columbus, GA. We talked about burger cravings and he teaches some sort of jujitsu class in town that we might check out soon!
Overall, it was a fantastically fun Sunday with great company!
Now to rush back to Columbus for some Dexter and True Blood!