OH HECK YES! The New Pengiun Center-Detroit, MI


Okay, I’m cheating. Big time. Why? Because I have never been to the Penguin Center at the Detroit Zoo although I have been to that particular zoo when I was a child. I remember watching the polar bears in awe and my fascination with the penguins when I was a kid; so I was stoked to read about this new edition to the struggling city of Detroit.

Yesterday, the Detroit Zoo opened it’s new state of the art penguin center which now holds the title of “Largest In The World.” Known as the Polk Penguin Conservation Center it features a multitude of penguins living as they would in the wild. These four species of birds are living the high life as they swim at breakneck speeds, nest, and rear their chicks in conditions that mimic the wild.

The Center is inspired by the Antarctic crossings of explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton. According to zoo officials visitors will experience 4-D effects while watching the adventurer’s exploits in a wrap around movie.

Visitors can see these aquatic wonders from all sorts of vantage points including an underwater walkway. Along the way icebergs and ice sculptures can be seen.

On the Detroit zoo’s website you can take a walk through the center. While I have not yet visited I plan to someday soon. Take a look here and you will see this amazing exhibit for yourself: http://detroitzoo.org/support/give/polk-penguin-conservation-center/




Free Entrance Days

Almost all National, State and local Parks have annual free or reduced price entrance days. Museums usually do to0. Here is a list of some of my favorite free admission places to visit this year.


Because it is the 100th birthday of  National Park Service there are several days this year where no admission is charged. These include:

  • April 16 through 24: National Park Day
  • August 25 through 28: National Park Service Birthday
  • September 24: National Public Lands Day
  • November 11: Veterans Day
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Art Institute of Chicago: Free for all Illinois residents from 5-8 p.m. Thursdays. Kids 13 and under are always free.

Chicago Children’s Museum: Free 5-8 p.m. every Thursday and the first Sunday of every month for kids 15 and under. Always free to children under 1.

The Field Museum: Several days have already come and gone this year but June 21-23 remains

Museum of Science and Industry: The following days in 2016 remain

June: 1-3, 6-8; September: 6-9, 12-16, 19-23, 26-30; October: 4-6; November: 3,10 December: 1

Several other Chicago attractions also have free days.


New York Aquarium: Friday 3 pm-closing (pay what you wish)

Whitney Museum of American Art: Friday 7-9:30 pm

Bronx Zoo: Wednesday (pay what you wish)

Metropolitan Museum of Art (always free or pay what you wish)

There are plenty more attractions in and around NYC that offer these deals.


Asian Art Museum: First Sunday of every month

de Young: First Tuesday of every month, first full weekend of every month for Bank of America Card Holders

San Francisco Railway Museum: Always free

Bat Area Discovery Museum: Great for kids. First Wednesday of every month.


The Walters Art Museum: General admission is free

National Aquarium: Dollar Days are December 3 and 4 this year. Admission is just $1. 1/2 Price Nights after 5 p.m. on Fridays. There is also a Pay What You Want Day every year.


Denver Museum of Nature and Science: April 23, May 9, June 5, August 29, September 11, October 24, November 13, December 12

Denver Art Museum: May 7, June 4 and other days throughout the year

Children’s Museum of Denver:May 3 4-8 p.m., June 7 4-8 p.m.


Seattle Symphony: Various dates. Check schedule.

Museum Of Flight: Free 5p.m.-9 p.m. the first Thursday of the month

Museum of History and Industry: First Thursdays are free and have extended hours (10 a.m. to 8 p.m.).

Washington State Parks: May 8: Sunday Spring Day, June 4: National Trails Day, June 11: National Get Outdoors Day, Aug. 25: National Park Service Birthday, Sept. 24: National Public Lands Day, Nov. 11: Veterans Day


St. Louis Zoo: There is no entrance fee. It is FREE. There are some charges for special events like the sea lion show.

Contemporary Art Museum: is free for all visitors on Wednesdays and Saturdays.


As you can see there are plenty of free things to do in and around where you live. Just google FREE DAYS in your area for a list of adventures.

*All information provided is subject to change. Verify details before going.


Best Zoo With A View

This summer we traveled to Colorado Springs to visit with our eldest son and our granddaughter.  Colorado Springs is a fascinating place …the counterculture mixing with the nouve rich. It is a place with Jamba Juice and Starbucks on every corner battling it out for the oh-so-mighty dollar.

But it is also a amazing place full of wild untamed beauty and scenic vistas that stretch as far as the eye can see. So image my surprise when we ventured forth to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo when we were able to combine two favorites into one…views for mom and cute cuddly animals for the kids. We hit the jackpot!

Of course, for a kid there is nothing to be beat when feeding a giraffe. Lettuce leaves are the food of choice as the long silky purple tongues reach out to take their favorite treats from your hands. Meeting a giraffe up close and personal is something that you never forget.


The zoo also has a unique exhibit which showcases animals from the area in a natural setting. Here you will find grizzly bears, moose, mountain lions and many other animals that you might meet if you were hiking in the surrounding mountains. Yes, sometimes you have to look to find these magnificent creatures but that is part of the charm of the place.

Encounter Africa was another favorite giving the kids a chance to see elephants, rhino, and meerkats and a gigantic living termite mound. UGH! That left me itching all over for a few nights after that! The kids also loved the wind tunnel which demonstrated the strength of the winds as they cross the savannah.

For an extra cost you can also take the Mountaineer Sky ride which is essentially a ski-lift chair that rides to the top of the mountain as your travel over the animal exhibits.

This zoo was a big hit for all involved no matter what their age. While admission prices are a little steep it is worth it if you make a day of it. FYI-take along your own bottled water.


The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. with the last admission at 4 p.m. Hours vary during holidays.