Christmas in Portland is great fun. The Oregon Zoo ZooLights is one my favorite stops on the way to holiday bliss.
The annual event generates a ton of visitor to the zoo, all clamoring to see over a million sparklling Christmas lights on display throughout the park. Displays of all sorts of animals, scenery, lights in the trees, in the shrubbery, along the pathways, overhead and underfoot...just about anywhere you look is loveliness. Some of stationary and many of animated.
Be sure that you get a brochure when you enter. It will help you find your way around. Actually, just following other people as they enjoy the lights works as well. It's still a nice keepsake to have. ;)
The Zoo Train is also decked out in lights, puffing smoke and ready to take guests on a round-trip tour around the grounds. Now, that is traveling in style!
ZooLights begin the evenings at around 4:00 pm (it gets dark much sooner in the winter time around these parts) and kicks into high gear by about 5:00 pm.
Pre-show is a great time to take advantage of the gift shop and hop over for a bite at one of the Oregon Zoo eateries. The Cascade Grill is right there at the entry gate for your convenience. Other stands and carts are paced around the grounds and all are offering special Christmas menus.
Grab something to eat, snack on, a cup of hot cocoa or coffee, and prepare for a special evening of magic. For me? A steaming cup of coffee to keep my hands warm and a toasty cinnamon and sugar Elephant Ear and I'm ready for the night ahead. ;)
Christmas music plays throughout the zoo's loudspeakers, so no matter where you go, you'll experience the holiday cheer. There are not a lot of animals out and about during the ZooLights hours. You may be able to catch some mountain goats, lions, tigers, monkeys and a few others, but most are either avoiding the chill in the air or tucked away in their beds for the evening.
That's okay though. Right? You're here for the lights. The animals will be around tomorrow.
The best time to experience ZooLights is during the week. The crowds are thinner and parking is easier. I'm not someone who does well in big crowds. If you can avoid the weekends, I recommend it.
Regardless, once you're there, everything is just groovy. And the kids, they are going to love it!
Once you're in, you can stay until around 9:00 – 9:30 pm (depending on the day), which is when everything wraps up for the night.
Admission is very affordable. They offer group rates, discounts for seniors and children and Oregon Zoo members are always free. One of the good reasons to grab yourself a membership.
So, mark your calendar for ZooLigthts during the holidays. It's something to do in Portland that you will be happy you did.
For more information on the Oregon Zoo, hop over to my Oregon Zoo web page.
Prices, schedule, frequently asked questions, and more can be found at the ZooLights web site.