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If unusually warm weather has you and the kids ready for an outdoor activity, heading to our capital city and the Riverbanks Zoo might be just the ticket. With approximately 100 miles between you and all that Riverbanks has to offer, it’s a great way to spend a day.

Riverbanks Zoo and Garden

Riverbanks Zoo opened in 1974 and is considered one of the nation’s most successful mid-sized zoos. Connected to the zoo by a bridge over the Saluda River, the Botanical Garden opened in 1995. With more than 2,000 animals living in the zoo and activities ranging from feeding the giraffes to riding the zoo’s train there is something to entertain all age groups.

Food and snack options at Riverbanks are plentiful and include offerings such as pizza, hot dogs, hamburgers, salads and chicken tenders. The website also offers a listing for restaurants and snack bars inside the zoo. If bringing your own food is more your style, Riverbanks offers a wooded picnic area at the opposite end of the parking lot from the zoo entrance. You can leave and re-enter the zoo using your original admission receipt.

Here are some tips for your visit:

■ The zoo is open daily from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Starting March 18, the zoo is open until 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, and those extended hours run through September.

■ Order tickets online and save more than $2 off each admission ticket and avoid purchase lines at the entrance gate.

■ Make a list of animal demonstrations you want to see and plan accordingly. Some demonstrations only occur once a day. Time and place information is available on the zoo’s website. www.riverbanks.org/plan-your-visit/animal-demos.shtml

■ Menus for a couple of the zoo’s restaurants are also available online. www.riverbanks.org/plan-your-visit/guest-relations.shtml

■ If you plan to picnic, make sure to save your receipt for re-entry to the zoo. Also note, there are no bathroom facilities at the picnic site.

■ Cash is not accepted at any of the zoo rides or attractions, such as feeding the giraffes or riding the carrousel. For all rides and attractions you must purchase an Explore More card. One dollar equals one Explore More credit. Explore More cards can be purchased at the ticket booth or throughout the zoo. A list of attractions and fees is available online. www.riverbanks.org/plan-your-visit/other-things-to-zoo.shtml

■ To maximize your time, familiarize yourself with the zoo’s layout by downloading a park map. www.riverbanks.org/plan-your-visit/downloads/parkmap.pdf

■ A complimentary tram is available from the Saluda River Footbridge to the amphitheater in the Botanical Garden.

■ Single and double strollers are available to rent at the zoo’s main entryway and the botanical garden ticket booth.

If you have a Greenville Zoo membership, you can go to the Riverbanks Zoo for 1/2 price.

Don’t Miss: Waterfall Junction at the Botanical Garden. It’s free with admission. www.riverbanks.org/botanical-garden/waterfall-junction/

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