As far as family trips go, these places are relatively inexpensive. They can be done on a weekend or incorporated into a longer trip. Some places charge by the carload and for other’s it’s as cheap as buying a loaf of bread.
Fossil Rim Wildlife Center- Glen Rose, Texas
This 1700-acre park is only an hour and a half drive from Dallas. Food can be purchased and handed out the car windows as visitors drive their own vehicles through the nine and a half mile tour. And, from personal experience, if you have your sunroof open and you feed a giraffe they DO slobber while eating!
When you go: Check their website for exact hours, http://www.fossilrim.org/.
Pymatuning Spillway – Linesville, Pennsylvania
Located on the Ohio/Pennsylvania border, is “Where the Ducks Walk on the Fish.” Over 300,000 people visit annually and toss bread in the water to feed thousands of carp that gather. The fish are so thick at times that the ducks literally walk on their backs to get some of the food being tossed. Kids delight and grownups come up with strategies on the right technique to hold and throw the bread.\
When you go: There is a concession stand located at the Spillway that sells bread but you can also bring your own; Wonder bread is traditional. The spillway is located on Hartstown Road two miles south of Lineville, PA. Call the Pymatuning State Park Office for more information at 724-932-3142 or visit http://www.visitpa.com/pymatuning-state-park-spillway-area-trail.
Olympic Game Farm- Sequim, Washington
Lloyd and Catherine Beebe founded the Olympic Game Farm as a holding compound for animal actors in between movie shoots by Disney Studios. This “in-between” time was used to train the animals for future up-and-coming movies. Animals as well as the property were in over 100 movies. After the death of Walt Disney in 1965, Disney Studios began to move away from the nature films that had been so dear to Walt’s heart. So in 1972 the Olympic Game Farm was opened to the public.
When you go: Feel free to bring your own bread to feed the animals but make sure that its wheat or whole grain. For exact hours and pricing, http://www.olygamefarm.com/.
Hollywild Animal Park in South Carolina
The highlight of this park is the Outback Safari Ride. Board an open tram bus where your tour guide/driver will take you through the seventy-plus acre “back” portion of the park. This is home to the larger, wild animals of Hollywild. Be sure to purchase animal food before boarding as many of the free-roaming animals in this area will come right up to the bus and eat out of your hand. Kids will get a kick out of fallow deer, zebras, bison, watusi’s, donkeys and emu’s slobbering in their hand as they eat from it. There’s also a bottle feeding area where you can feed the youngest additions to the park’s family.
When you go: During the winter months the park limits their hours so check the schedule before you go. More information, http://www.hollywild.com/.
Out of Africa, Camp Verde, Arizona
This 104-acre park was founded in 1988 by Dean and Prayeri Harrison. Their love of animals brought them together and their travels through Africa have helped them to construct authentic, natural habitats for their animals. Out of Africa has over 40 big cats including lions, tigers, leopards and jaguar. You will also see rhinoceros, bear, hyena, javelina, gemsbok, wildebeest and more.
One of the unique things at Out of Africa is the ability to feed a tiger. Each day at 2:00 pm visitors get the opportunity to provide lunch to one of the big cats. Treats are provided by the park for the African Bush Safari so you can feed the giraffes, zebras and ostriches.
When you go: Out of Africa is 90 minutes north of Phoenix. Plan to spend about four hours at the park. Cost to feed the tigers is an additional $5.00. More information, http://www.outofafricapark.com/.
Global Family Wildlife Center, Folsom, LA
This is the largest totally free-roaming wildlife preserve of its kind in the country. It is home to over 4,000 exotic, endangered, and threatened animals from all over the world. It’s Africa, in Louisiana. A guided Safari Wagon tour will take you through over 900 acres complete with 12 ponds and a lake. During the tour you’ll be up close to bison, giraffe, zebra, camels, eland, and more.
When you go: Open year round, seven days a week but be sure to check their website for safari check-in dates and times. Animal food is available for purchase onsite http://www.globalwildlife.com/.
Long Island Aquarium and Exhibition Center- Riverhead, New York
Formally known as Atlantis Marine World, this aquarium is located along the Peconic River and is home to the largest all-living coral reef display in the Western Hemisphere. There are two large Ray Bays where guests can feed and touch southern stingrays, cow-nose rays, and bamboo sharks. Long Island Aquarium is also home to the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation, New York State’s only authorized marine mammal and sea turtle rescue and rehabilitation center.
When you go: The aquarium is open year round except for Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. http://www.longislandaquarium.com/
Wagon Trails Animal Park, Vienna, Ohio
Family owned and operated since 2000, Wagon Trails Animal Park is a unique animal adventure. Unlike traditional zoos, animals roam free. This interactive park, where you can feed and pet many of the animals, is great for kids. Sixty acres of woods and ponds are home to camels, zebra, bison, water buffalo, ostrich and antelope.
When you go: Wagon Trails has some seasonal hours so be sure to check the website before you go. Buckets of safari food are included with admission, no outside food is allowed. wagontrails.com.
African Safari Wildlife Park, Port Clinton, Ohio
This 100-acre preserve has been around since 1969 and is home to over 400 of the world’s most beautiful and exotic animals. It’s only minutes away from Cedar Point so it would be easy to combine the two parks into a weekend of fun. Make sure you bring your camera as you view and feed the animals from the comfort of your own vehicle.
When you go: Seasonal hours and no outside food allowed. Don’t miss the pig races at Pork Chop Downs. http://www.africansafariwildlifepark.com/.
Wild Animal Safari, Pine Mountain, Georgia
At this park you have the option of either driving your own vehicle through the Wild Animal Safari or taking a complimentary bus tour lead by an Animal Safari Tour Guide. This five mile tour (3 ½ of the miles are on a paved road) covers over 250 acres. Come face to face with a Camel, or hand feed an American Bison. You’ll be able to see Elk, Water Buffalo and Wildebeest running free as well as Tigers, Hyenas and Zebra.
When you go: Hours can vary so check before you go. http://www.animalsafari.com/Georgia/park-info/