I visited the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore (formerly the Baltimore Zoo) for the first time yesterday with my family and found it to be well worth the trip. I’d been curious about it because whenever my children attended a zoo field trip it was always to the Plumpton Park Zoo up in Cecil County. I’d heard stories of construction at the zoo and wondered if that was why folks up here headed north instead of into the city. But we gave it a go. It took just a bit longer to get there than it takes to get to Plumpton Park Zoo (Mapquest says it’s 45 minutes vs. 51 minutes). It costs a bit more (Maryland Zoo tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for children while the Plumpton Park Zoo charges $10.75 and $6.75 respectively). And it took rather a long time to get from the entrance of the Maryland Zoo in Druid Hill Park to actually viewing a zoo animal (a five to 10 minute walk according to the zoo map or a shorter tram ride – although trams were few and far between the day we visited). But when we finally got there, I found the Maryland Zoo to be well worth the extra effort. Of all the zoos I’ve visited (San Diego, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Wilmington, Del. — I have yet to get to the National Zoo in D.C.) the Maryland Zoo reminded me most of Pittsburgh’s Zoo. Raised boardwalk-style decking leads visitors through a children’s area with a bog, a bat cave (too scary for my 3-year-old), and an otter pool visitors can view from a tunnel built underneath the water. Slides built into an enormous tree trunk and a farm silo reminded me of the slides my kids enjoyed at Pittsburgh’s zoo. The African Journey section looked more naturalistic than Philadelphia’s version with vast expanses of bare earth and rock that made you think for a moment you might be looking at the Sahara, until you turned around to see a hillside covered with lush vegetation. My daughter loved the zebras and my husband and son got to ride a camel. We watched a penguin feeding where we got the low down on the orphaned baby chimpanzees in the monkey house from one of the workers. The workers give regularly scheduled talks that are advertised on blackboards posted throughout the zoo. We tried to catch as many of these as we could. A sudden thunderstorm hit during our visit so we missed the Polar Bear exhibit. We’ll have to return for that. One of the nicest things about our Monday afternoon visit was the lack of other visitors. We were able to enjoy most of the exhibits on our own, taking as much time as we wanted with each one. I’m not sure if this is good news for the zoo, but it made the visit quite enjoyable.