This quaint little zoo is a wonderful place to visit with your children.
The Ralph Mitchell Zoo and Riverside Park; it isn’t big, but it is big fun!
Riverside Park features picnic areas, walking areas, gardens, playgrounds (including a cork-screw slide), a full 18 hole miniature golf course, a miniature train ride, a beautiful carousel (still only 5 cents a ride), numerous buildings for community or private events, tennis courts, Shultis Stadium (with Emmot Field for football and a beautiful new track), the new Riverside Beach Family Aquatic Center (much more than just a swimming pool) and, of course, Ralph Mitchell Zoo.
Ralph Mitchell Zoo is a unique attraction (in the true sense of the word). The zoo is maintained by the city of Independence and admission is free to the public. It is still possible in the twenty-first century to take a relaxing stroll through the wooded zoo, enjoying the antics of the animals, eating cotton candy or pop corn from the concession stand (summer only), and after the zoo, walk leasurely to the carousel and lay down a dime so you and your companion can both ride.
The zoo features one of my favorite displays, Monkey Island:
According to Roadside America.com, “In the 1930s the WPA built a number of small “monkey islands” at zoos across the U.S. Surrounded by a pond, the islands afforded visitors a clear view of the monkeys, which could not escape and were allowed to frolic freely. The Monkey Island at Ralph Mitchell Zoo was particularly elaborate, with a castle, a main street with storefronts, a jail, a windmill, and even a miniature Liberty Bell.”
In addition to the monkeys, a bear, owls, peacocks, snakes and other animals are free for the viewing. The park is a beautiful place to play, too, with large play structures, including a dinosaur and fire truck. If you are looking for an inexpensive and very pleasant day with your children, this is a suitable destination.