Did you know that elephants, cheetahs, zebras, giraffes and wolves live in the city of
Scottsdale all year round? The Phoenix Zoo – which is right down the road from your
vacation rental when you and your family visit Scottsdale this July – is the place they call
home. If you’ve been a parent for any length of time and you’re looking for a surefire
way to send the kids off to bed happy, then you already know this secret: nothing beats
the zoo. And with over 1,100 animals living on the grounds, you’ve got 1,100 ways to
stop a tantrum in its tracks. Think of it.

You’re going to need sunblock, so don’t forget it. During July and August, it gets a little
hot even for some of the animals, so the Phoenix Zoo opens at 7 a.m. and closes at 2 p.m.
Get there early. Tickets for adults are $20, children ages 3-12 get in for $10 and children
two and under pay nothing – partly because they can’t and partly because it’s just the
right thing to do.

If you and the family extend your trip through August, mark the 10th and 11th on your
calendar, because there’s a rather special occurrence taking place at the zoo on those
dates. The final “Prowl & Play” program of 2012 gives families the chance to actually
meet some of the animals. Water play areas, camel rides and carousel rides are part of
the evening festivities. Prowl & Play goes from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m, and tickets are $8 for
non-members.

When it comes to meals and souvenirs, the zoo’s got your back. You can enjoy a sit-
down meal, and you’d better believe there’s more than one store in which to buy the kids
that stuffed whatever-the-favorite-animal-of-the-day-happens-to-be. The point is this: if
you’re vacationing in the city of Scottsdale, getting up-close and personal with the local
lions, tigers and bears at the Phoenix Zoo is a great opener, closer or mid-trip break. It’s a
non-profit zoo, the biggest of its kind in America, and in 2009, USA Travel Guide ranked
it fourth in the nation.

Sometimes it feels like a minor miracle just to get the family up and on the road by mid-
morning. But remember this: when you visit Scottsdale in July and you’re struggling to
wake the dead, the promise of a trip to the Phoenix Zoo statistically outperforms both
shouting and the smell of bacon.