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Bei Bei, the zoo's newest panda cub, made its public debut on January 16, and of course all the pandas at the zoo really enjoyed the recent blizzard. Now that some of the initial excitement and the snowdrifts have melted away, let's go to the zoo and see how the animals are enjoying the winter weather!
The route: From our meetup point between the two lions at the west gate, we’ll enter along Olmstead Walk and spend about an hour and a half checking out all the exhibits on the south side of Olmstead Walk. At 11:30 am we'll reform our group in front of the restrooms across from the Giant Cat Exhibit and head back uphill, checking out all the exhibits on the north side of Olmstead Walk. Arriving back at our Meetup point, we'll end the structured portion of the hike. Attendees can head 0.5 miles north along Connecticut Ave to Cleveland Park Metro Station, or south 0.5 miles along Connecticut Ave to Woodley Park-Zoo Metro Station.
The total distance is about 4 miles of smiles, including the south side tour (2 miles), the north side tour (1.5 miles), and 0.5 miles to whichever Metro station you choose to walk to after the event. (Don't forget to add in whatever distance you walked to get to the meetup point before the event!) The surface is paved throughout, and downhill during the south side tour, and uphill all the way back.
We should finish by around 12:30 pm, so you'll have plenty of time to catch the Super Bowl at 6:35 pm, if that's your bag.
Google map: http://tinyurl.com/zqpc73q
Zoo map (pdf): http://tinyurl.com/ofqgsra
How to get there: The National Zoo is located south of Rock Creek Park at 3001 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008.
• For Metro riders, the zoo is equidistant from Cleveland Park and Woodley Park-Zoo Metro Stations; a 0.5 mile walk south or north along Connecticut Avenue, respectively, will take you to the west zoo entrance. If you’re having lunch after, Cleveland Park is a better bet since more restaurant selections are nearby.
• For drivers, the entrance to the zoo’s parking lots is at Connecticut Ave and N Rd. There is a flat $22 fee for parking at the zoo, but do not despair: lots of free parallel street parking is available in the area on Sundays, especially to the west of Connecticut Ave along Woodley or Cathedral Ave NW.
• More directions: http://tinyurl.com/pbq88aq
What to bring: Water and comfy shoes. Sorry, only service animals are allowed in the zoo, so your furry friend must stay behind. Don't forget the layered look!
Weather: The forecast is sunny and a high near 50 degrees. Updates: http://tinyurl.com/jftq
Advisory: As a reminder, this is an adult group, and you are ultimately responsible for your own safety and well-being during events. No one under 18 years of age is allowed at this event, either as members or as guests, to include babies in carriers and/or strollers.
Administrative stuff: There are restrooms and drinking fountains just inside the zoo at the Visitor Center, and scattered throughout the zoo. See the Google and/or zoo maps, linked above.
After the walk: There are several places near the Cleveland Metro along Connecticut Avenue for a bite to eat after the hike.
• Smithsonian National Zoo, 3001 Connecticut Ave NW,[masked], http://tinyurl.com/4soyu
• Siam House, 3520 Connecticut Ave NW,[masked] (Thai), http://tinyurl.com/qjnwuhe
• Indique,[masked] Connecticut Ave NW,[masked] (Indian), http://tinyurl.com/5eqlte
• Medium Rare, 3500 Connecticut Ave NW,[masked] (Steak/Brunch), http://tinyurl.com/4chfnnu
• St. Arnold's Mussel Bar, 3433 Connecticut Ave NW,[masked] (Bar/Belgian/Seafood), http://tinyurl.com/o562gvd
• Fat Pete's BBQ, 3407 Connecticut Ave NW,[masked], http://tinyurl.com/px85x2p
Image of Tian Tian enjoying the snow is © Devin Murphy/Smithsonian National Zoo, via Washington Times at http://tinyurl.com/grqus5h