CONTRIBUTED BY LUCY B.
If you’re looking for the zoo experience, but the thought of the crowds at the Wilhelma make you cringe, try Tierpark Nymphaea. It’s a scaled-down version of a zoo: not quite a petting zoo, not just a park. You’ll find it on a very small island in the center of the Neckar River, just a short distance away from Esslingen.
The park features a small playground, restaurant with outdoor and indoor seating, and a snack bar. You can get treats and sweet things like ice cream at the park kiosk, too. There are benches and picnic tables throughout the area, so you can always bring your own food and drink.
Visitors can purchase small buckets of unsalted popcorn to feed to the animals as they walk along the trails. This was a big hit with the little ones, who squealed and giggled as the goats ate the popcorn right out of their hands. Some of the animals shouldn’t be fed popcorn, so their enclosures are labeled with Nicht Futtern, although most people seemed to ignore these signs.
On our latest trip we saw donkeys, goats, deer, pigs, rabbits, owls, ducks, turtles, beavers, and plenty of exotic birds, including parrots. The 5-year-old in our group liked the beavers the best. They loved getting the popcorn and also had a couple of babies in the enclosure. The 3-year-old spent ages at the goat enclosure, feeding them one popcorn kernel at a time (which is where the lovely park benches come in). My personal favorite was a parrot that said hello to me. There’s a small aquarium near the park entrance with some very colorful fish and a little ledge for the kids to jump up on and peer into the tanks.
One of the major advantages is that the park is small, so it’s hard (but not impossible) to lose track of a kid. It’s not as hectic as the zoo, because you just follow the path and go where it leads you. It’s particularly fun for the smaller kids since they get plenty of chances to feed the animals and it’s in a park so there’s plenty of shade and little places to rest. It’s a stroller friendly environment, too. You can even bring your dog if you want. Leashes are required, and I’d recommend bringing a water dish, too.
Operating Hours: Their opening times vary by season, but they’re open year round. They have pony riding from 2-4pm most Sundays (double-check the schedule online before you head out).
Cost: 3.50 for adults and 1 Euro for kids. Kids under 6 are free.
Address: Nymphaeaweg 12, 73730 Esslingen am Neckar
GPS Coordinates: 48.72448, 9.333470000000034
If you’re a fan of public transportation, you can take the SBahn or a bus and then plan for a 10 minute (20 minutes with toddlers) walk to the entrance.
For those who drive, there is parking in front of the park, or a short distance away.