Free Fun at Phillips Park Zoo in Aurora, IL

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Running a little low on funds, but still want to have a great afternoon with the kids? Then look no further than Phillips Park Zoo in Aurora, IL. I spent an afternoon here with my son and we totally enjoyed ourselves. This zoo is no-frills, but a nearby playground and splash pad are sure to keep the kids entertained for hours – and you don’t have to spend a dime.

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The entrance to the zoo is pretty neat. There’s a board displaying the rules of the zoo, then a totally random, but still cute, painted dinosaur.

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Now, I’ll be the first to admit, that animal sightseeing outdoors was pretty difficult. There are some cages for birds like eagles, hawks, and owls; as well as wolves, goats and llamas, but we had trouble finding the outdoor animals. The elk, however, had a huge, gorgeous setting to call home and we were able to see them just fine chilling under the bridge.

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The large elk statue offers a great place for a photo op though!

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But by far, my son’s favorite exhibit at Phillips Park Zoo was the reptile house! It was very warm in there, but seeing the alligators, snakes and turtles so close was a real treat!

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Once we finished up at the reptile house, sadly we saw the exit – BUT there was a huge playground off in the distance. We high-tailed it over there!

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The playground was so fun and we spent a good chunk of time there. My son loved the giant pirate ship. SO many of the kids there were so into it. Thankfully, there was a large, shaded picnic area nearby for us to have our lunch on.

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As we were making our way back to the car, I noticed that we completely missed the visitor’s center on the way in with the giant mastodon statue in front. Another nice photo op spot, and the visitor’s center is full of information on the animals at the zoo, and lots of educational exhibits and displays. There are also restrooms, vending machines, and drinking fountains at the visitor’s center.

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There’s also a splash pad nearby, but we didn’t stop by on our last visit. Now that most pools and splash pads are open for the season, we’re going to have to make our way back here!

Tell me – what’s your favorite small zoo?

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