Summertime creates the urge on all of us to get active in outdoor events that take advantage of the fresh air, sunshine and longer days. Local zoos provide an ideal setting for all to embrace the summer. Zoos and aquariums like to add special events to their calendars, making a trip even more inviting. Special events this year include dinosaurs, butterflies, penguins, a baby giraffe and bear cubs. Here are some suggestions for some of the best zoo events in Minnesota this season.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Minnesota Zoo
13000 Zoo Blvd.
Apple Valley, MN 55124
(952) 431-9200

Dates: Now through Mon., Sept 5, 2016; 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (weather depending)
Price: $5 attraction fee, $4 Zoo members for all who enter with general admission

Hunt down 21 humongous Mesozoic monsters in the wild. Do not be scared as each dinosaur moves and roars, driven by an electronic brain. You may have seen last year’s favorite five like the Brachiosaurus and Tyrannosaurus Rex. But this year, thrill over a Citipati, Muttaburrasaurus and Cryolophosaurus and even more of these cool lizards. They were designed and animated by a crew of artists, sculptors, engineers and designers at Billings Productions, Inc. in McKinney, Texas. Another feature kids will love is the dinosaur nest and egg play tower. Be sure to bring your camera.

Related: A Guide To The Minnesota Zoo

Blooming Butterfly
Como Park Zoo & Conservatory
1225 Estabrook Drive
St. Paul, MN 55103
(651) 487-8200

Date: Fri., June 17 through Mon., Sept. 5, 2016; 10:00 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Price: Free, pay $1 to release your own personal butterfly

Butterflies are blooming again. This is total immersion experience. It creates an environment that fosters delightful interaction between butterflies and humans. Find over 100 species of butterflies from Africa, Asia and the Americas in a colorful 2,500-square-foot greenhouse. See the giant butterfly topiary new to the butterfly exhibit this year. Interns and volunteers planted 5000 cuttings of Alternanthera to create this beautiful herbaceous butterfly.

Related: Best Petting Zoos In Minnesota

(credit: Minnesota Zoo)

(credit: Minnesota Zoo)

Beach Party With The Penguins
Hemker Park & Zoo
26715 County Road 39
Freeport, MN 56331
(320) 836-2426

Dates: Fri., July 8, 2016 at 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Price: Discounted admission of $8.00 per person plus tax.

Reserve your Summer Beach Party tickets online and enjoy an outing at the zoo geared for families. Park free. Get a free icy pop with every admission. Be alert for the giveaways announced hourly throughout the day while children take part in the fun and games. Exotic animals from around the world await your visit. The intimate Hemker Zoo showcases more than 50 different animals. In addition to the penguins, see monkeys Red kangaroos, zebras, camels, a 30-bird aviary and a baby giraffe. Free parking and picnic area.

Picnic At The Zoo
Pine Grove Zoo
1200 Broadway W.
Little Falls, MN 56345
(320) 616-5595

Date: Mon., July 4, 2016 at 1:30 to 3:00 p.m.
Price: $7 per person, free 3 and under. Free parking, picnic area and wagons for toting the little ones.

It may be a 100-mile drive, but this 100-year-old zoo may be the highlight of your trip to the north woods with the kids. See the menagerie of exotic, native and domestic animals in natural settings sheltered under the one of the last white pine forests in Minnesota. Especially fun are the cute young bear and felines romping and playing around their enclosures. The black bear cubs were just introduced to the public this May. Watch the animals as they are treated to American-themed enrichment food and Fourth of July toys.

(credit: Thinkstock)

(credit: Thinkstock)

8th Annual Brew At The Zoo
Minnesota Zoo
13000 Zoo Blvd.
Apple Valley, MN 55124
(952) 431-9200

Date: Date: Fri., Aug. 05, 2016 at 7:00 p.m. rain or shine.
Price: $50 per person in advance, $55 per person at the gate, $35 for designated driver

Get your souvenir tasting glass and sample beer from Minnesota’s premier brewers and brewpubs. Go to the Central Plaza for beer, appetizers, non-alcoholic beverages and water. Russia’s Grizzly Coast will also be open until 8:00 p.m. Then, settle back to hear The Shasta Kings Opening Act. Stick around for Headliners in The Tim Sigler Band. Proceeds benefit the Zoo’s Conservation Funds.

Robin Johnson was born in Annandale, Minn. and graduated from Richfield High School and then the University of Minnesota where he studied Political Science, Business and Industrial Relations. A writer for, he also consults with a variety of organizations and individuals helping them develop and grow. His work can be found at