7 Places to Go on an Animal Safari Close to Home

No need to hop a plane to Africa to go on a wild animal safari. You’ll find plenty of safari parks across the country that you and your kids will love. Get up close with rhinos or have giraffes eating out of the palm of your hand. Several parks even have overnight programs and walking excursions into the parks to learn more about the wild animals. Take a look at seven of these fun-filled safari parks.

African Safari Wildlife Park (Port Clinton, OH): At this fun safari park, you can enjoy the drive-thru as many times as you like and feed the animals, like zebras, alpacas and llamas, right from your car. You’ll also see bison, warthogs and giraffes. Check out the pig races, educational animal shows and pony rides (camel rides too!).

Lion Country Safari (Loxahatchee, FL): This safari park is not too far from Boca Raton, FL (where we stayed last spring), so we took the kids and had a great time (see my full post). We couldn’t believe how close the animals came to our car, including zebras, rhinoceros and ostriches. Be sure to also check out the amusement rides and opportunities to feed giraffes and lories (small, colorful parrots).

Safari West (Santa Rosa, CA): Take a three-hour driving safari in an open-air vehicle to see more than 600 animals that inhabit the preserve. You’ll also have the opportunity to walk around the inner grounds to learn more, and visit a three-story lemur condo! You can also check out special behind-the-scenes and keeper of the day programs.

San Diego Zoo Safari Park: Choose from one of nine different safaris, including a Behind-the-Scenes Safari (travel to visit keeper-only areas), Africa Tram Safari (view giraffes, rhinos, antelopes as they roam) and Caravan Safari (ride into the field to meet the giraffes and rhinos). They also feature an overnight camping adventure, a segway tour and an opportunity to fly on a zipline above the park!

Virginia Safari Park (Natural Bridge, VA): I just heard about this one today from @lexingtonva on Twitter and it looks fabulous. They’ve got 1,000 exotic animals from six continents on 180 acres. You can do a three-mile safari drive-thru, enjoy a petting zoo (you can feed giraffes directly out of your hand!) and go on wagon rides in the spring and early summer. I can’t wait!

Wild Animal Safari (Pine Mountain, GA): Drive through 200 acres for the chance to touch a giraffe, bison, antelope and more. Also, check out the Walk-About section, which is similar to a zoo to see alligators, hyenas, wolves and bears.

Wild Animal Safari (Strafford, MO): Enjoy a five-mile drive-thru on 250 acres where you’ll be able to come face to face with a camel, hand feed a bison or see wild animals, like elk and water buffalos, running free across the park. You’ll also get a chance to see alligators, bobcats, lions and macaws.

Before you head out to your closest safari park, be sure to check out their websites since many times you’ll find money-saving coupons. For example, on the Lion Country Safari website, you’ll find coupons to print out to save $6 per person. If you live close to any of the above parks, also look into season passes to get your money’s worth over the course of a year.

Photo Credit: AbbyNormalGA