When entertaining out-of-town visitors from late spring to early fall, one stop is always on our list: The Columbian Park Zoo in Lafayette.
Founded in 1908 — and featuring foxes, pelicans, deer, lynx, prairie dogs, wolves and what I hope was a scent-proof habitat for skunks — the Columbian Park Zoo closed for a major mid-2000s renovation and reopened in 2007.
It’s a fun, free way for families to observe and learn about exotic animals close to home, without long drives or lines. (Consider dropping what you can in the donation box, though, and support the zoo’s plans to expand.)
Open from late April to mid-October, this six-acre spot is a community gem.
By the time this article runs, opening day will be just a couple weeks away. Here are a handful of exhibits I’m looking forward to seeing again this season and what I recommend you check out, too
That’s just a sampling from a bevy of birds and menagerie of mammals at the Columbian Park Zoo, which also incorporates some beautiful sculptures in its entry plaza and throughout the grounds. (Just remember basic zoo rules: Don’t be too loud, stay on paths, be courteous, don’t feed animals and clean up after yourself.)
The Columbian Park Zoo also offers a number of educational classes and volunteer opportunities for all ages — including a whole new slew of family and youth programs from which to choose in 2017.
Families can also choose from a number of special events in summer — including movie nights, pajama parties, a 5K, ice cream safari — and fall, including an overnight opportunity in late September and October’s popular three-night, Halloween-themed Boo at the Zoo.
Opens for the Season on Saturday, April 22
Free, but donations accepted
Rob Ford is Tipmont and Wintek's communication director, a role he's held since 2015.
Rob has a bachelor's and a master's in Communication from Purdue University. He lives in West Lafayette with his wife and three children and has a life-sized Yoda statue in his office. Away from the office, you’ll find Rob working on his golf swing, jump shot, or hope for a Purdue basketball national title – all futile endeavors.