We missed it last year, and we weren't about to miss it again! It was four days post Christmas, and we were still trying to get the last bit of our Christmas feels. As soon as darkness struck, we headed off to the city of Folsom, to catch the holiday lights and animals. It's not often we get to visit the zoo at night!
Every year for the last 9 years, the Folsom Zoo Sanctuary, hosts a "Wild Nights and Holiday Lights" event. I learned about it last year, as I was searching for holiday events, but we didn't get a chance to make it. So we needed to make it happen this year, even if it was a few days after Christmas!
The event goes on from 5pm-8pm, though the zoo is also open to the public beforehand on their normal business hours. The dates of the event are December 1, 7, 8, 14-23, and 26-30. Keep in mind that event dates and times can be cancelled due to heavy rain. Admission price is $7 per person, and free for children under two (Phoenix was not free though; he's two). There's also a little train ride you can go on that is an additional $5 per person. To avoid lines, both zoo addmission and train ride tickets can also be purchased online through the link below.
We got out tickets at the zoo, and only had to wait in line for a few minutes. Keep in mind, we did go after Christmas, so it probably wasn't as busy as it might have been before Christmas. Then we were directed to the barn entrance versus the regular zoo entrance. As soon as we entered, there was the zoo mascot, Santa Paws, sitting in his chair ready for photos. But as soon as Phoenix saw Santa Paws he was frightened and wanted to leave. So we got a candy cane and made sure to stay far enough from Santa Paws.
As we walked through the barn, we got to see the typical barn animals: horse, pony, cow, and donkeys. As we walked out the barn they had a concession stand with hot chocolate, popcorn and other items, but we didn't stop to get anything. Phoenix was too excited about seeing Christmas lights and animals all at once, so there was no time to waste!
The zoo contains about 100 decorated Christmas trees, much of whom are through donations. The decked out trees was one of the first things we saw walking out of the barn. We continued to see Christmas trees spread throughout the zoo. The zoo also contains thousands of feet of bright colorful Christmas lights, so we got to see that just about everywhere. A lot of the animals, like the bears and birds, were sleeping, but we still got to see the: wolves, deer, raccoon, owl, and my favorite, the mountain lion!
We kept going back to the mountain lion exhibit: one because its my favorite, and two because the mountain lions kept appearing and disappearing. Everytime the mountain lion would disappear, Phoenix would say, "Hey you, come back here!" in a cute grumpy man tone. It was quite funny (He gets that from some of our story books).
If you decide to go during the holiday season, you're definitely going more for the lights than the animals, because most animals sleep at night. But it's definitely fun to be at the zoo at night, with all the Christmas lights surrounding you. The Folsom Zoo Sanctuary contains mainly rescued animals, so it's not a huge zoo to start with, but definitely worth visiting. Can't wait to go back and ride the Holiday train, and maybe next time we'll see Santa there too!
How to get there:
- Take hwy 50 east towards Lake Tahoe
- Take exit 23 for Folsom Blvd
- After about 2.7 miles turn right onto Natoma Station St.
- Then turn left onto Stafford St.
- The zoo will be on the right hand side at 403 Stafford Street in the City of Folsom. (Folsom is in the Sacramento County)