After visiting Peacock Lane in Portland, we found another fun Christmas lights attraction… Zoo Lights at the Oregon Zoo!
We had been to the Zoo Lights at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago a few years back. It was so magical to see, and a great opportunity to see nocturnal animals awake and active! I was super excited to learn we had another opportunity to see Zoo Lights, and in our own city no less!
As with Peacock Lane, we went to see the Zoo Lights after Christmas, so despite going on a Sunday it was fairly easy to find parking.
If you plan to go in 2014 and it’s before the holiday has passed, public transportation may be your best friend in getting there. I’d imagine the parking lot would be somewhat of a nightmare. You also get a discount on your tickets if you take the MAX!
It was still pretty crowded inside for us though, so it was a little hard to get decent pictures. Here are a few that I managed to get!
While it was nowhere near as cold as it was in Chicago during the winter, we still found it to be uncomfortably chilly. I would highly recommend bundling up when you go!
Luckily, anywhere you turn there is hot chocolate and other hot beverages being sold throughout the zoo. Unluckily, there are impossibly long lines at each and every one of them! I think next time we’ll bring a couple of thermoses with us and avoid the crowds!
Even though we went after Christmas, the zoo itself was very congested, which we were a little surprised at. I can only imagine if you go before Christmas that it would be a lot worse. I’d personally try to go during the week, since I’m sure the weekends are crazy. Despite the crowds, we still had a great time seeing all the beautiful lights – here are a few more pictures!
Other than traditional Christmas lights, they also had an impressive array of displays that incorporated movement (not that you can tell from pictures).
This African river scene was particularly impressive, as just about everything moved.
There were also a lot of displays with classic movie characters as well!
My absolute favorite place at the zoo was The Kaleidoscope, which was basically a big tunnel of lights. Check it out!
It was pretty congested at the entrance of the tunnel, because obviously it’s a great photo opportunity. I don’t think people realized how big it was though, because if you just walked a few steps through, there was way more room to take pictures. I’d recommended squeezing through the crowds as quickly as you can, to get to the middle of the tunnel. Then you can take your time and take as many photos as you want, without people constantly walking in your shot!
While the lights are the main attraction, another advantage of being at the zoo at night is seeing the nocturnal animals. Two highlights for us were seeing the tigers up and about, and being able to spend time at the bat exhibit.
If you go during dinnertime, you can bring your own food in, but I would highly recommend eating at the Cascade Grill if you can. The food is delicious and healthy, and they use a lot of local ingredients. They also serve local beer and wine!
We had a great time at the Zoo Lights, and I can’t wait to go again! I hope I’ve piqued your interest as well, but even if you can’t make it during the holiday season, the Oregon Zoo is a wonderful place to visit. So if you’re planning a trip or in the area, definitely add it to your activity list while staying in Portland!