On our way home from Virginia last weekend, we stopped at Virginia Safari Park. This place was new to me. I’ve driven past it probably a hundred times and never knew it existed, but when we stopped in Lexington (on our way to Virginia), the folks in the Visitor’s Center shared this with us an an option for things to do in the area, and my kids jumped at the chance to see wild animals up close and personal. They were determined to go and wouldn’t take no for an answer. My husband and I were a bit hesitant, but after reading a few reviews online, we decided that there wasn’t much chance we’d get our heads bitten off so we agreed to stop in on our way home.
Safari Park is pretty much a drive-thru zoo. Animals roam freely on the 180-acre property, and you drive through on a 3-mile paved loop and feed them out your window. This was the scene that greeted us as we emerged from the ticket booth:
I am serious!!!! We were laughing so hard. At first the kids were afraid to roll down their windows so mama had to show ’em how it’s done.
Soon the kids decided to get in on the fun.
This guy right here… He was a pistol.
He was happy to eat my food.
Then before I could blink, he STOLE my bucket.
It was hard to get good pictures. This girl had the right idea.
They have bison, llama, camels, pigs, deer, emu, ostrich, elk, giraffes, antelope, oryx, wildebeest, buffalo, yak, cattle, watusi, pigs, zebras, rhinos, kangaroos, peacocks and monkeys.
Not all are in the drive-thru area. There is a separate village walk-through for certain animals including the giraffes. Don’t skip that part. The giraffes walk right up to you.
You can feed them too, but rather than buckets, you feed them right out of your hands. Becca really wanted to do it, but the second the giraffe’s wet tongue touched her hand, she squealed and dropped the food, much to the dismay of the unfortunate giraffe. I got a great shot.
One of the highlights of the excursion was seeing a mama kangaroo with a joey in her pouch. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before.
There was even an aviary where you could walk though and the birds would land on a stick you hold out to them. I don’t do birds *shudder* so I waited outside.
The kid had a BLAST. This was the coolest thing we’ve done in ages. Yeah, I had to wash my car, and I still need to vacuum out the animal food, but it was so fun to get that close to animals that we usually only see behind large fences at the zoo.
If you’re ever on your way down I-81 through the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains and want a place to stop for a half-day family adventure, I highly recommend Virginia Safari Park or one of their reciprocal zoos, Gulf Breeze Zoo in Florida and the Reston Zoo in Vienna, Virginia.
We paid for our tickets, and this post is not sponsored in any way, not that there’s anything wrong with that . . .
(Funny how I now feel the need to provide disclosure even when there is nothing to disclose. HA!)