Monday, August 8, 2011

Washington DC: The ZOO

One of the things I love about Washington DC is that most of the attractions are free.  With the exception of parking, the National Zoo is no exception.  We spent the morning there today with our son, who despite professing to only wanting to see the elephants, rather enjoyed some of the other animals on display. 

We began at the children's garden, where there is a small garden growing the ingredients to top a pizza.  The big draw for my son was the larger than life pizza playground, where he got to run around on top of a huge pizza and practice sitrring the sauce!

Playing on the pizza. Notice the huge mushroom in the background.
Stirring the massive pot of tomato sauce

From there we made it to the kids' farm, where children are encouraged to pet the animals and learn  how to care for them.  The donkeys and the alpacas were my son's favourites.

The donkey, chewing the bark

An alpaca, relaxing in the shade

We did eventually see the elephants, but it turns out that the trucks working on the new animal area were more intriguing than they were, and so we cut our visit short and went in search of "I scream for ice cream", which is what my son now calls any frozen treat.  Since he is dairy free, we went on the hunt for dairy free frozen options.  Surprisingly, there were many.  

Along the walkways of the zoo, food and beverage carts are set up.  Several offered shaved ice treats, all dairy free.  We opted for a frozen ice treat, watermelon flavour, because the container was easier for little fingers to manage with minimal mess.  Gluten and dairy free, it was the perfect treat.   

On our way back to our car, we saw perhaps the biggest turtle I've ever laid eyes on outside of a documentary.  I had to include the photo below!

Gluten and Dairy Free at the Zoo:  There are many dairy free treats at the zoo, and not only in the restaurant/cafeteria areas.  We didn't eat lunch there, but I did check out one of the cafeterias and saw many items that had the potential to be gluten free if the preparation didn't lend itself to cross-contamination.  I can't comment on whether the items were actually gluten free because we didn't eat there.  I read an article in a prominent magazine stating that in certain eateries in the zoo, items that are gluten free are labeled as such, but I didn't come across any. I wasn't looking too hard though, because it was extremely hot and we only stayed for about an hour and a half.

The Zoo is accessible by Metro, but there is ample parking.  Friends of the Zoo members can park for free, but we paid $15 for a visit of under 3 hours.  It was a great deal, and a perfect place to take the kids for a day out!

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