If you're ever in Devon I highly recommend a trip to Dartmoor Zoo. It's world famous as the subject of the book and movie We Bought a Zoo - you're unlikely to see Matt Damon or Scarlett Johansson wandering around, but the movie was actually filmed here (even though they changed the story to set it in America). The book, which I haven't read, is the true story of how Benjamin Mee bought the zoo - and what I like about the film is that Mee and his children appear as zoo visitors at the end.
I went to Dartmoor Zoo over the August bank holiday as I was visiting a friend who lived nearby. I went with my friend, her husband and their fantastic two-year-old daughter and another friend, and had a great time watching falconry displays, singing happy birthday to a lion and watching her unwrap a present, petting goats and enjoying seeing all the other animals.
Living in Greater London I'm used to zoos being expensive - London Zoo costs £24.25 for an adult entry, whereas Dartmoor Zoo costs just £8.95, while children under five are free. The gift shop was also very good value - I couldn't resist buying a cuddly toy for my husband as something of an in-joke. So I was a bit surprised that the café - actually called the Jaguar Restaurant - wasn't particularly cheap.
We could have taken a picnic with us but didn't and decided to eat in the restaurant. There isn't a lot on the menu - it's mainly panini with a few main meals like chicken tagine and roasted squash and goat's cheese risotto, and also a children's section of smaller meals. They had run out of the cheese and ham panini my friend wanted already so she had a pizza style panini with a side of cheesy chips. I had a falafel, roast onion, baby spinach, carrot and aioli panini (£5.95) - and some of the chips. I would normally go for ham and cheese but fancied trying something different and this was really good.
We also spotted the guy doing the falconry display in the restaurant - I wonder if he was feeding the owl?
The zoo isn't huge but there is plenty to see and we had a really fun day out; I took lots of photos as usual!