Tuesday 10 July 2012

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Staying Cool at Zoo Miami

It may have a weird name, but Zoo Miami is a fantastic zoo. A wide variety of animals, extensive areas for them to roam in, and wide viewing areas to prevent overcrowding, all combine to make this a great place to spend a day in the South Beach area. You're going to get up close and personal with many members of the animal kingdom.

If you go to Zoo Miami in the summer though, you're also going to get up close and personal with some sweltering heat and high humidity. It keeps the crowds down, especially in the middle of the day, but unless you have enough piercings to keep yourself properly ventilated, you're going to need a plan to keep yourself cool during your visit. My advice to my children would be to buy an ice cream for one hand and a Diet Coke for the other, then make sure that neither hand is ever out of stock, but for those of you who frequent the food groups that don't center around sugar and aspartame, here's some ideas you can use to keep the temperatures down a little.

#1 - Buy a monorail pass

Perhaps I wasn't specific enough when I said that Zoo Miami was large. With over 340 acres in use and plenty more in reserve nearby, walking around the zoo is a feat best left for those who specialize in those kind of endeavors, like marathoners or people who can get out of bed without hurting themselves. Fortunately, there's an air conditioned monorail that circles the park on an elevated track, and it only costs $3 to ride for the entire day. There's only four stations, so you'll still end up doing a fair bit of walking, but when you can mix each quarter of the zoo in with a nice, cool ride, it makes things seem a whole lot more bearable. Quick hint for you: when the conductor tells you to look out side A of the monorail, you want to look out side B. I think they're trying to hide the good stuff.

#2 - Wear your bathing suit

It seems that somebody told Zoo Miami that it's hot in their establishment, so they've responded by installing plenty of places that you can get wet. There's quite a few water park type areas in the zoo, including one near the middle where it's possible to get completely drenched. You can also rent peddle boats and head out onto the lake and roam around, although most people made a beeline for the sprinkler nozzle shooting water out over the lake. If you're really brave and have a couple extra bucks kicking around, there's even a giant water slide for you to try. Finally, if all else fails, go stand by the chimpanzee enclosure. They have a lever in their pen which they can use to turn sprinklers on the people who are standing around watching them. It sounds like exactly the kind of thing that my son would install in his room if I'd let him.

#3 - Got to the bathroom...a lot!

This has nothing to do with hydration issues, but the bathrooms at Zoo Miami are insanely cold. Seriously...this is coming from a Canadian who deals with more than his share of sub-zero temperatures. I promise you that you won't want to spend more than a couple of minutes in there, especially if you're in the men's room standing at the urinals. Somebody decided that it would be a good idea to mount the air conditioner directly above them, making it the fastest moving Men's room line I've ever seen.

#4 - Really enjoy the inside viewing areas

Some of the animals in the zoo aren't necessarily built for a sub-tropical climate, so they require some temperature control for their enclosures. These are the ideal animals to visit when the heat starts to get to you. Other animals simply have caves with viewing windows built in to them, so that you can get out of the sun and still watch the animals from the shade. Of course, just because you've found a great vantage point doesn't mean that the animals are going to cooperate with your ideas.

This post is a part of Travel Tips Tuesday at Suitcases and Sippycups and Walkingon Travels. If you didn't get here from there, you should go check it out. There's people there who are so cool that they don't need to stay cool. Cool?

Written by Steve Pratt