Shake up happy hour with wine in hand at the Santa Barbara Zoo’s Sunset Sips event July 20. (Santa Barbara Zoo photo)

I’ve fallen into a happy hour rut.

I love my usual haunts, like La Playa Azul for its margaritas, Milk & Honey for its quirky, off-beat vibe and tasty snacks, or Bar29 for its killer cocktails.

But sometimes I like to mix things up and find someplace new to visit for that oh-so-necessary “unwind” hour post-work to chat it up with friends.

Lately, I’ve been thinking that regular ol’ happy hour is for the birds … and other zoo animals.

If you missed the Santa Barbara Zoo’s annual Roar & Pour event in May or Zoo Brew last weekend, you have another chance to enjoy a few sips while in the company of wild animals. (And no, I’m not just talking about your friends.)

On July 20 from 5 to 7 p.m., the zoo will close its doors to the kiddos and let the adults have some fun with wine in hand at its new Sunset Sips event. The first such event was held Thursday.

Take wine along for the ride at the Santa Barbara Zoo’s tasting event.

Take wine along for the ride at the Santa Barbara Zoo’s tasting event. (Santa Barbara Zoo photo)

Promises of wine tasting, live music, appetizers, giraffe feedings and train rides are just part of the fun one can have at these quirky happy hours.

Keep an eye out for Pence Ranch’s classic chardonnays, DV8 Cellars’ fruit-forward rosé and Sevtap Winery’s bold, rich reds.

There promises to be a little something for everyone at these tasting events.

And I don’t know about you, readers, but feeding giraffes and taking a train ride with a glass of wine in hand sounds like a pretty fun way to shake up the old happy hour routine.

Tickets can be purchased online at or at the door for $30 and includes a “GO VINO” wine glass.

— Tara Jones Haaf leads Eat This, Shoot That! and welcomes reader tips and ideas for future columns. She can be reached at Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.