When it comes to seeing wildlife from all around the world, you don’t have to go overseas. There are a number of safari parks, also known as conservation zones or wild animal parks, spread across America for you to enjoy. Yet, not all of these parks stand on equal footing. The first thing you want to make sure of is that you are visiting ones with accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to ensure the animals are being treated compassionately and receiving the utmost care.
Below are the 10 best wildlife safaris in the USA that have everything you need, like car rides, walkable areas, and kid-friendly activities:
Found in the heart of California’s wine country, this AZA-accredited safari is nicknamed the “Sonoma Serengeti.” Safari West has a 3-hour ride for you and your family to enjoy. Optionally, there is a walking tour that takes you around the 400-acre preserve. Over 1000 species of animals from the African Serengeti can be found here, including buffalo, wildebeest, oryx, and gazelle. If you’re looking for an even more immersive experience, you can choose the nighttime to encounter the nocturnal animals.
Address: 3115 Porter Creek Rd, Santa Rosa, CA 95404
Loxahatchee isn’t necessarily as much of an attraction as Orlando, but it has something Disneyland doesn’t. That would be Florida’s first AZA-accredited drive-through safari, Lion Country Safari. Since 1967, the park has seen millions of visitors and has grown to house more than 1,000 animals between seven sections. Meet rhinoceroses and giraffes at Hwange National Park or seek out lions lounging at Gorongosa Reserve, to name a few.
Address: 2003 Lion Country Safari Rd, Loxahatchee, FL 33470
The Pine Mountain Wild Animal Safari has another sister park and is home to dozens of animals from across the globe. The 250-acre safari zone features 120 species, to be exact, ranging from birds, lemurs, wolves, lizards, and wallabies. You can bring your own vehicle or rent a van for the 3.5 mile loop. There’s also a walking area that is child-friendly. You can even feed smaller, more docile animals by hand.
Address: 1300 Oak Grove Rd, Pine Mountain, GA 31822
At Custer State Park Resort in SD, you can hop into an extra large, open air Jeep and go off-roading on the Buffalo Safari Jeep Tour. As the Jeep travels along the roadways through rolling hills and vast stretches of green, you can watch elk, pronghorns, and buffalo grazing in a natural habitat. The educated guide will also tell you all about the history of the land, about the wildlife, and much more. Highly educational and highly recommend.
Virginia has a lot of natural land, but it has only one drive-through wild animal safari—Virginia Safari Park. The park has over 1,000 animals on the 180-acre expanse that can be visited during a 3-mile driving course. Aside from a petting zoo and walkable area, you can even have a picnic. This is a must-see destination if you’re in Virginia, especially if you love having animals come up to your car to nibble on the park-approved feed from the palm of your hand.
The Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch in San Antonio, Texas is a wonderful entertainment attraction that is also highly educational. You can walk over 450-acres of pastoral landscapes, such as hillsides, oak tree groves, and babbling brooks. Along this adventure, you will come up close and personal with over 500 animals from 40 animals species that are either endangered, exotic or native. This safari also has a driving course. Further, it is well-known for the giraffe conservation efforts, helping keep these majestic creatures around for future generations.
Address: 26515 Natural Bridge Caverns Rd, San Antonio, TX 78266
At the African Safari Wildlife Park in Port Clinton, Ohio, you can grab a handful of approved feed and start off a wild adventure. The park teems with herbs of Bactrian camels, bison, zebras, alpaca and other four-legged creatures that come up to the vehicle for a snack or two. Other unique features of this safari park include activities like riding camels, feeding kangaroo, or watching the pig races.
Address: 267 S Lightner Rd, Port Clinton, OH 43452
Aside from the aforementioned Safari West, California has one more award-winning, internationally known wild animal safari. The San Diego Zoo Safari Park has 1,800 acres of space that is separate from the already fabulous San Diego Zoo. It contains over 300 species of wildlife from six continents. You can view the safari on a guided tour bus, hot air balloon, zip line, or by tram. Aside from cranes, cheetahs, and more, this safari happens to house one of California’s incredibly rare condors.
Address: 15500 San Pasqual Valley Rd, Escondido, CA 92027
The Bearizona Wildlife Park is located in the small town of Williams, AZ. There’s 160 acres devoted to the preservation of Ponderosa pine forest and North American animals in their natural habitat. Once you complete the driving section of the safari, you can continue on foot towards Fort Bearizona to see smaller animals on exhibit. At the Bearizona Barnyard, children will have a blast interacting with animals at the petting zoo and learning more about them from the keepers.
South of Roseburg, Oregon in the sylvan Umpqua Valley, you will find a gateway to a wild kingdom. At Wildlife Safari, an AZA-accredited safari with one of the most successful cheetah breeding programs in the US, you can spend about 1.5 hours driving and walking around through a range of habitats. Within these areas, you can find Tibetan yaks, African elephants, hippopotamuses, camels, and more. For an additional cost, you can choose several activities, such as wine and art with elephants or camel riding.