Where: 19270 Monroe-Madison Memorial Hwy., Leesburg, VA
When: Tuesday-Sunday, 10 am- 5 pm (Closed Mondays)
Over the winter, in the midst of a seemingly neverending string of snow days, I purchased a Certifikid deal for a visit to Leesburg Animal Park on a weekday to play in their new indoor play area. I thought this would be a great idea for something to do the next time school was canceled. However, I never used it, because it turns out, if the weather is bad enough to cancel school, I’m not particularly inclined to go out and drive in it. Go figure.
All that is to say when my neighbor and I took our kids to Leesburg Animal Park last week, it was the first time I have been there since the remodel and expansion that now includes the indoor play area, discovery room, indoor small animal exhibits, Lemur Island, and so much more. What used to be a small barnyard with a ticket shack is now a rather impressive little animal park.
Admission for my two kids and myself came to something like $37. I want to unpack this amount a bit, though. My toddler, under 2 years old, was free. My 5 year old was $14.95 because I bought the VIP pass that includes a pink souvenir cup with a bag of food to feed the animals tucked inside. (In theory, you get a free drinking cup to use at home! In reality, I haven’t seen it since we left the park. Whoops.) My admission as an adult was $11.95. Rounding out the total is a stuffed cockatoo my 5 year old saw in the gift shop area that is (conveniently!) located right at the entrance where you wait in line to pay admission. She’s currently very into birds and I’m a chump, so I bought it, but if you aren’t like me and are not a chump, your total would be considerably less once you subtract the cost of a stuffed cockatoo and/or a plastic cup with animal food in it. If you’re trying to avoid the allure of the gift shop, buy your tickets online and bring your confirmation email to the counter.
In any case, all four kids on the trip that day (who ranged in ages from 1.5-8) had a blast at the park for the two hours we were there and I do believe had we not made them leave they could have easily played well for another hour at least, so I considered $37 money well spent. If this is a bit steep for you, consider subscribing to Certifikid, which frequently offers discounted tickets or special admission rates.
Animals at the park include a variety of small mammals in indoor exhibits (chinchilla, sloth, lemur), several reptiles, and outdoors, a variety of animals you can feed and pet.
Lemur Island is accessible via a small bridge that crosses a pond filled to the BRIM with carp and bass. They teem at the edge, trained to expect a shower of kibble from the nearby gumball machine to rain down into their mouths. I have zero doubts some kid has reached down and picked one up straight out of the water with their bare hands. (I didn’t. But I could have.) (It seems there is actually a fishing tournament coming up where visitors are welcome to bring their own poles and compete to see who can catch the largest fish from the pond!)
After crossing the bridge you arrive on Lemur Island. You’re going to look at lemurs in their pen and sing “I like to move it move it” a few times. The lemurs will pay you zero attention.
In the original barnyard area of the park there are still various animals you can pet- alpaca, goats, ox; and a few you just admire- porcupine, kookaburra bird, and a giant tortoise. Various play structures are scattered around the main lawn of the park- several small playhouses, a wooden pirate ship, your traditional tot lot structures to climb and slide down, a castle, a bounce house, and two tube slides built into the hill (which are currently closed until fall). Outside food is permitted and if you pack a lunch, there are picnic tables and umbrellas scattered about. If it gets too hot outdoors, the indoor play area is fabulous- there’s a smaller area for toddlers and babies to play in, and a large foam-padded climbing structure for the bigger kids.
Make a day of it:
My friend and I had packed a lunch planning to eat at the park, but decided instead to head up the road to Stone Tower Winery, which I have mentioned before but can’t recommend enough. Before leaving Leesburg Animal Park we swung through the produce stand in the parking lot and grabbed a bag of fresh peaches to eat at lunch, then drove two miles up the road to Stone Tower to eat lunch and drink a glass of wine. Here at NOVAdventuring we believe in keeping things entertaining for not just the kids, but the parents as well, which is why you’ll see us recommending not only kid-specific activities, but various places the whole family can enjoy. I can attest after several trips there that not only do the adults love Stone Tower Winery, so do the kids. There’s an open field to run in, cornhole, and if you’re there on a weekday, the place is uncrowded and peaceful. And you just can’t beat the scenery.
If you’ve already visited Stone Tower or are looking for a change of pace, Willowcroft Winery is also near Leesburg Animal Park. Previously reviewed Oatlands Plantation is just five miles up the road as well.
In the fall, Leesburg Animal Park hosts Pumpkin Village, a festival that runs from September 20- November 4. Admission grants you access to the regular sites and activities available at Leesburg Animal Park as well as some additional seasonal activities such as a maze, a spider web crawl, and a pumpkin patch from which you can select one free pumpkin per child. If you don’t make it out this summer, be sure to set aside a day in the fall to attend this festival!