Chicago has some of the most beautiful zoos anywhere in the country. You can make it a lot easier with a little planning. You don’t need to have a perfect little angel or a whole brood full of daring devils. But we all know that a trip to the zoo can be downhill much faster than a squirrel chasing a cheetah (or pretend that that could happen). So let me share some of my survival strategies.

1. You can go during the week

Let’s face facts, and you’re not there to see people. You’re there to see the animals. You will be able to move more easily if you choose a weekday.

2. Be there early

There are many things to do in zoos, so make sure you get there early. It will slow down your flow if you try to fit in nap times and other things. The animals are fed earlier in the day, so if your goal is to see what Polar Bears eat (answer: anything he likes), the morning is the best.

3. Plan!

A list is my favourite thing. My list always starts with “Make List”, so I can get at least one item off my list right away. You can use the online maps to help you get the most important information.

4. Make use of the lockers

There are many things you need to do if you have children. There are lockers at every zoo to ease the burden and reduce stress on your shoulders and mobility.

5. Two pairs of shoes are recommended

This tip is something I learned from my retail job. It can help your feet feel better. The locker is already there, so you can put your shoes in there and change halfway through your visit. You can also make the baby push the stroller while you whine and drink a bottle. This is a great way to entertain children.

6. Take your food

The zoo’s meals are expensive and don’t offer fresh llama meats. It can make a big difference to pack your meals. You can then go out for ice cream and hot pretzels without breaking the bank.

7. Photo Phunny

Nobody likes to see a picture of a teen pouting and hugging a panda. Don’t hug the pandas. They are bears and will eat your face. Oaklee’s Family Guide doesn’t endorse hugging pandas or bears in general. Get your kids to move like the monkeys or snakes for the camera! These moments will be truly memorable and can be shared on Facebook.

8. Locate the Interactive Areas

The kids will want to do something, not just stare at the animals. Mix in the petting area, climbing the mountain and other fun features.

9. Know your limits

Know their limits. Even the most adorable child can go into a complete meltdown if they’re just tired, hot/cold, and overwhelmed by the elephants’ smell.

10. Get one cool thing

If they behave, let them know that they can pick one item from the store at the end of their visit. They will be able to hold it and remember the day. Get one for yourself! Mommy will always remember the zoo with these diamond earrings!