We've been going to Zoomars since the Thatkid was a little thing. If I recall correctly we first went during his train obsession phase, because it is so easy to take the train up and walk over. It's a small enough place to let the kids run amok and have them still be enclosed, but there's also enough to do to keep them occupied for hours. Due to it's location in south Orange County, it also makes a great halfway meeting point between San Diego and other parts of Orange County which means the kids get to go with their friends!
1. The Cost
The fun thing about Zoomars is that admission covers the playground and touching the animals, but there's so much more there and your kid is going to want to do it all. The train costs extra, food for the animals costs extra, gem mining costs extra...and it all adds up. So be prepared to pay more than you think. But there's good news friends, there are usually coupons on Groupon which often include packages of several activities.
2. Bring Water (and snacks)
I don't know what it is about this place, but my kids always get so very thirsty while we're there. They also let you bring in your own snacks and if you're going to be there a while, it's nice to be able to take a little snack break. Just keep them away from the goats!
3. The Animals
The main draw of Zoomars has got to be the animals. There's a huge area just filled with guinea pigs and my kids can stay there FOREVER. They love it so much. There's also a pen of very aggressive goats (aggressive in the food seeking kind of way, not the pin you up against the wall and tell you to get lost kind of way). And while you can't get in to the pens with them, there's also llama, alpaca, a cow, pigs, and an ostrich!
4. The Train
Sure it's hokey and small, but my kids still want to ride it. Every time.
5. The Western Town and Stick Ponies
I actually thought my kids might have outgrown this area, but was pleasantly surprised when they each grabbed a stick pony and took off, pretending to be looking for the cat outlaw. There's a cutout of an old west town that they just love playing on, so save some time for this. This is also a great time for the grownups to take a little rest break and just sit and watch since there aren't a lot of places for them to go.
6. The Playground
If your children like the more traditional play structure that doesn't require playing make-believe, there's one of those too! Complete with slide and climbing, With everything else there is to do, this was the part my kids are currently the least interested in, but for younger kids, this is the perfect size play structure.
7. Seasonal Activities
I had some friends go during the Halloween season and there were pumpkins and other fun things for the kids to do. We went shortly after and there was still a maze of hay bales for the kids to run through. The nice thing about this place is that it really is geared toward younger children, so even with the maze, Thatbaby didn't get nervous about going through without us since he could see over the top of the bales.
8. The Corn
We never really did sensory bins in my house, but holy moly do my kids love playing in corn kernels. If Zoomars only had guinea pigs and the corn bin, we still could have been there for an entire day. It seems like such a simple thing, but it is apparently highly entertaining for them. And the fun doesn't end there, because when you play in the corn, you come home with corn everywhere! Thatbaby was emptying corn from his pockets hours later when we got home. It's the gift that keeps giving.
I'm sure it doesn't hurt that my kids love corn in any way, shape or form. Thatbaby often asks for frozen corn kernels to snack on. When we went to Pennsylvania, we had dinner with family friends and they had the boys shucking corn - we had to really keep an eye to make sure they didn't just eat them right then and there. We eat a ton of corn in the summer and fall when it's so sweet you really can just eat them raw!
This is one of our favorite corn recipes. While my kids are happy with unbuttered corn, this version is super buttered which makes them taste just like popcorn, my favorite food! This is especially good if you're looking for a last minute side for your Thanksgiving meal because it comes together so quickly.
4 ears of corn
4 Tbsp butter
- Heat the butter over medium heat.
- When the butter is melted and bubbly, husk the corn and remove the silk. Cut the corn from the cob, scraping to get the milk and sugar into the pan with the kernels.
- Saute corn for about 4 minutes, shaking to keep the corn from sticking to the pan.
- Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.