A super different, socially-distanced family outing


This weekend, for the first time in forever, we attempted a super different, socially-distanced family outing.

For the better part of the year, just like everyone else, we’ve been stuck at home. Pre-pandemic, the occasional, non-socially-distanced, family outing was something we prioritized. We regularly utilized our memberships to the Children’s Museum, Gladys Porter Zoo,  Sea Turtle Inc., and more. Nowadays, because of the Coronavirus, I can’t even remember the last time we left the house to explore as an entire family unit.

A trip to Gladys Porter Zoo

Gladys Porter Zoo called us recently to let us know about their COVID-19 safety changes and to inform us that they were actually open again (yay!), AND that our membership had been extended a few months past the expiration.

I’d been pretty hesitant to go anywhere, to be honest. We haven’t had much contact with anyone who doesn’t live in our house, nor have we really gone out much past doctor appointments and grocery store runs.

For safety reasons, two of our family vacations were canceled this year — one to California, and one to Florida. My kids, and my husband and I had been feeling pretty bummed about that, so we finally decided it was time to try SOME bit of normalcy with a family outing. When my husband and I surprised the kids the morning of they were SO so excited.

Masked kids, zoo family outing

We started the car and I had the biggest brain fart ever — what was I even supposed to pack?! I barely remembered diapers and wipes, and my husband suggested water. My son reminded me to take his fruit snacks. Then, of course, we had to pack masks, and back-up masks for those masks. Who knew it’d be so easy to forget how to pack a diaper bag!? Thanks, 2020!

Our socially-distanced experience at the zoo was really atypical.

The zoo had lots of tape and arrows to guide traffic. Masks kept slipping off the kids, and snacks were hard to do without finding designated snack areas, and oh my — am I out of shape! Halfway through the zoo, my pregnant self was ready to call it quits. My body hadn’t had this level of physical activity in MONTHS.

Masked adults, zoo family outing

There was one non-socially-distanced moment when I felt incredibly uncomfortable.

We’d tried hard to stay away from people the whole loop around the zoo — but an old granny found us unmasked, and vulnerable, eating our mid-day snacks at the Lion’s Den — she touched two of my three kids to not give them “ojo.”

Because it’s the culture I’ve grown up with it was hard to say anything to this sweet old lady, but inside, my heart was silently screaming, “We’re in a PANDEMIC, keep your hands off my kids!” Instead, I smiled nervously and whispered “gracias” when she told me how adorable my kids were.

Overall, despite a random grandma not maintaining her 6-ft, I think it was a good outing for our family. I don’t see this type of family outing becoming a regular part of our routine, but it was nice to have one day of semi-normalcy even if it meant wearing masks in the 103-degree heat, and social distancing.

For up-to-date information about the Gladys Porter Zoo and what they’re doing to maintain the safety of their guests, staff, and animals, please see their website and Facebook page. At the time this article is written, advanced reservations are required in addition to your membership. Reservations for your family outing can be made on their website.

What kind of socially distant family outings, if any, has your family had this summer?

Where have you gone? What was your experience like? Was it socially distanced? Did everyone around you follow the protocols and guidelines set in place?


  1. Hi there, wanted to share that we recently went on our second family vacation to MO Ranch. It was beautiful. Not alot of people, family oriented and plenty of outdoor activities without contacting anyone. Look it up, its about 5 hrs north of McAllen. We took precooked meals and heated them up in microwave oven located in a self help kitchen. Hubby bbq for us a couple of times too. We stayed 2 nights $270 total with 2 queen beds. No one stayed in our quarters only us. The have a kid pool and bigger pool if you don’t feel like going to river. It’s worth the drive.


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