If I had to define the Houston Zoo Lights in five words, I’d say: Amazing, crowded, annoying, fun and expensive. You really have to plan and strategize for it to make it fun. But have no fear, for I am her to give you some tips on what is definitely an amazing Houston experience.
The 2017 Houston Zoo Lights runs until January 14 every single night (except Dec. 14) from dusk til 10 p.m. or 11 p.m. (last entry is 9 or 9:30 pm, respectively).
- Parking is a nightmare, so just expect the worst experience ever. The lights begin at 6 p.m., so either get there at 5 sharp or immediately plan a different parking situation. Basically they close off everything once it lot is full, so everyone is circling for eternity. You can take the metro from somewhere else, or you can park in my super-secret parking lot. It’s off Hermann Park Drive, about a 8 minute walk to the Zoo. Lyft has $10 off two rides with “HoustonZoo”!
- Buy your tickets online. The line for tickets is surprisingly WORSE than parking. Again, get there EARLY and/or buy online. If you buy before 4, you get $2 off!
- Just freaking go early. We were leaving at about 8:30, the line was halfway to our car… our car that was an 8 minute walk away. Like… it was closer to Miller Outdoor Theater than it was the Zoo. Plus, the later it is, the more cranky ALL the children are.
- Bring in some booze and snacks. I’m actually not sure if this is allowed, so be discreet. But, they don’t check bags and it’s dark, so it’s fine.
- Buy booze and snacks. They have lots of food (think: popcorn, gummies, funnel cakes, beignets) and wine/beer/coffee/hot chocolate/Bailey’s/Kahlua/etc.
- Wear comfy shoes. I’m pretty sure it’s a given, but heads up that it’s a good hour walk through the lights. And there’s a set path and they absolutely won’t let you divert from it.
- Find secret bathrooms. Because the obvious ones have a LONG LINE. Waiting in long lines is the No. 1 attraction for Zoo Lights.
- Dress weather appropriately. It was pretty chilly for us, so a coat was pretty necessary. I did get kind of warm though, so I had to carry my coat, which was annoying.
- Charge your phone! Because there are photo opportunities a plenty!
- Bring all your friends. Also another obvious one.
Well, there are my tips. AND, if you can’t go…. Here enjoy my many pictures!
This post originally published Dec. 22, 2014, but has been updated with new information.