Ten Ways to Go Wild with a Trip to a Michigan Zoo

Family vacation season is nearly upon us. While you may be planning for a longer getaway, keep in mind that a day trip can be a fun way to spend some quality family time and unwind a bit. Scattered throughout Michigan are an assortment of zoos and wildlife parks that are both educational and fun for all ages. So, grab some sunscreen and bottled water and get ready for a wild day of family fun at these Michigan zoos and parks! For more information on  zoos in your area, visit michigan.org/zoos.

Photo courtesy of Detroit Zoo

Photo courtesy of Detroit Zoo

Detroit Zoo – Royal Oak, MI
Features 125 acres of naturalistic exhibits with 1300 mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrates of 250 different species. Be sure to take a trek through the North Pole in the Arctic Ring of Life exhibit. The Detroit Zoo was the first in the United States to use open natural exhibits.

Potter Park Zoo – Lansing, MI
Located along the Red Cedar River, this 100 acre park features the county zoological park with over 400 different animal species, plus playground, picnic areas, pony and camel rides, petting zoo, gardens and more.

Photo courtesy of Binder Park Zoo

Photo courtesy of Binder Park Zoo

Binder Park Zoo – Battle Creek, MI
Open for the season on April 22, 2014! An African adventure awaits you at Binder Park Zoo! Discover spectacular views of wild animals from elevated boardwalks. Get nose-to-nose with one of the largest giraffe herds in the country as you explore Wild Africa and hand feed a giraffe! Binder Park opens middle of April through October each year.

Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park - Alto, MI
Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park features a reptile house, aviary, petting zoo, and guided safari tour through the park and prides itself on giving visitors a hands-on experience that’s as close to the wild as you can get. With animals as diverse as wallabies, zebras, pythons and lemurs, there is sure to be something for everyone in the family to enjoy.

John Ball Zoo Society – Grand Rapids, MI
John Ball Zoo, with over 2,000 animals, is located in a 140-acre park only one mile from the downtown Grand Rapids district. Zoo includes the Lions of Manyara exhibit featuring a pride of three lions, the only aquarium in Michigan, Komodo dragon, a troop of chimpanzees, and Colobus Monkeys that can leap 50 feet to the next branch!

Wilderness Trails Zoo – Birch Run, MI
Wilderness Trails Zoo is home to over 200 individual animals representing over 50 species including alligators, lions, tigers, monkeys and camels. Make lasting family memories  in Wilderness Trails’ petting area, butterfly house and animal feeding stations.

Photo courtesy of Children's Zoo at Celebration Square

Photo courtesy of Children’s Zoo at Celebration Square

Children’s Zoo at Celebration Square - Saginaw, MI
Animals from various parts of the globe make their home at the Children’s Zoo, including wolves, river otters, bald eagles, black-footed penguins, Capuchin monkeys, kangaroos, alligators, exotic birds, reptiles and more! Ride the hand-carved carousel and antique train and get up close and personal with all kinds of critters at live Amphitheater shows.

Cindy Lou’s Zoo – Roscommon, MI
Journey through 20 scenic acres in a park like setting in beautiful Roscommon. Cindy Lou’s Zoo features 120+ animals including exotic cattle, red deer, fallow deer, horses, miniature donkeys, goats and sheep, monkeys, lemurs, parrots and much more. Many of the animals are tame enough to hand feed and pet.

GarLyn Zoological Park - Naubinway, MI
Located 40 minutes west of the Mackinac Bridge on US-2 just six miles east of Naubinway. See live tigers, black bear, alligator, cougar, bobcat, wolves, wallaby, camel, reindeer, ring-tailed lemur, sika deer, river otter and more. Feed the deer, goats, llama and even the bear!

DeYoung Family Zoo – Wallace, MI
Come view the exotic felines and get the opportunity to interact with these magnificent creatures. This zoo is unique because it is a hands-on experience and all of the animals are very responsive.

Traveler Tip: Interested in seeing the animals most active? Try heading to the park early in the morning before it gets too hot. Not only will you avoid large crowds, you’ll also witness the animals at their peak activity.

While a trip to the zoo is great fun on any given day, special events and exhibits can bring a new element of discovery and enjoyment. Give these events a look and be sure to check michigan.org or your favorite zoo’s website for special opportunities.

GreenFest at the Detroit Zoo, April 26-27, 2014
GreenFest is a two-day Earth Day event dedicated to celebrating wildlife and educating the community about environmental conservation. The Zoo-wide celebration includes earth-friendly crafts, an endangered species scavenger hunt, animal enrichment activities, zookeeper talks and exhibits by local conservation groups.

Photo courtesy of Binder Park Zoo

Photo courtesy of Binder Park Zoo

Kids FUNfari at Binder Park Zoo, July 12, 2014
Healthy kids and happy families is what Kids FUNfari is all about! Join Binder Park Zoo in this event focus on getting kids active and healthy! Kids FUNfari is also the Lemur Lap Fun Run.  All children entering the Zoo will receive a reusable “goodie bag” and can participate in fun activities and demonstrations throughout the Zoo.

Corks for Conservation at Binder Park Zoo, July 19, 2014
Corks for Conservation is a wine tasting event held on Saturday, July 19th from 6pm to 10pm at Binder Park Zoo. Enjoy the Zoo after-hours with live music, delicious hors d’oeuvres, a silent auction, live animal presentations, and of course, wine from Michigan based wineries.

Have you visited a Michigan zoo? Tell us about your trip! 

Natural Wonders: Eight Photos of Michigan’s Frozen Waterfalls

Did you know that there are more than 200 waterfalls in Michigan? Many of these are located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and are a beautiful sight to behold in any season. When the temperature drops during the deep winter months, the free-flowing falls freeze over and transform into magnificent winter wonders.

Michigan visitors and residents alike venture out to feast their eyes on these natural beauties (and if you’re feeling adventurous, you can even learn how to ice climb one!). Some of these spectacular sights are relatively easy to access. Others require snowshoes, skis or a snowmobile. Find out how to access the frozen waterfall nearest you here.

In Michigan, you’re never more than six miles away from a natural water source. Why not take a day trip to marvel at Michigan’s frozen falls? For inspiration, here are eight fantastic photos of frozen Michigan waterfalls captured by our fans and other talented photographers around the state.

Frozen Munising Falls at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Photo by Neil Weaver Photography.

 Ice formations at Tahquamenon Falls. Photo by: Tracie Bishop Kochanny

Ice Climbing in Munising, MI. Photo by: Kathryn Lund Johnson Nature Photography

Enormous icicles at Munising Falls. Photo by: Paul Arno Rose

Upper Tahquamenon Falls. Photo by: Jeffrey Foltice

Munising Falls. Photo by: Michigan Nut Photography

Behind Tannery Falls in Alger County. Photo by: Photo by: Brian Kainulainen Photography – BWANA Design

 Tannery Falls. Photo by: Brian Kainulainen Photography – BWANA Design

For more, check our our Facebook or Flickr page and follow us on Instagram! Have you ever seen a frozen waterfall in person? 

Todd and Brad Reed’s Favorite Spots in Michigan for Fall Color

Todd and Brad Reed are a father-son outdoor photography team based in Ludington, Michigan. Today, they tell us why fall is their favorite time of year to take photographs of Michigan’s beautiful scenery and fill us in on the best places to go around the state to see the colors change.

Be sure to check out the infographic below with Todd and Brad’s top 10 scenic spots for fall foliage across the state, and let us know if you plan a fall color tour in Michigan this season.

Autumn is our favorite time of year to photograph our beloved home state of Michigan. The quality of light during October, fall color, wind, waves and dramatic cloud formations combine to make it a most spectacular time to be on Michigan highways, byways, hiking trails, waterways and shores.

When it comes to photographing fall color, Brad and I know our own backyard of Ludington best. We love driving the country roads east of Ludington in autumn, especially Conrad Road, which boasts what I find to be one of the most picturesque tunnels of trees in Michigan. It is a short but splendid tunnel with farms on each side of the roadway. Further east on Conrad Road are more farms and impressive barns, Amber Elk Ranch and another short tunnel of trees.

Another of our favorite Ludington places to experience fall color is the Lost Lake Trail at Ludington State Park. Toward the end of October, the shores of Lost Lake are usually resplendent with fall color and reflections of fall color. Shooting at the water’s edge near sunrise can be a photographer’s dream.

A float trip down any stretch of the Pere Marquette River between Baldwin and Custer can be one of life’s most relaxing experiences and a great way to see fall color and wildlife. We love floating by stable drift boat with an expert river guide manning the oars. Guides can also help you catch fish or can cook you a gourmet dinner on the river.  For those who prefer staying ashore, driving through the Manistee National Forest in this region is a visual treat.

Further north, Pierce Stocking Drive off M109 in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore features gorgeous mature hardwoods but the real gems here are the scenic lookouts that provide glorious panoramic views of an area that Good Morning America has named “The Most Beautiful Place in America.”

One of our favorite inland color-touring highways is M37 between Baldwin and Mesick.  These forests are loaded with brilliant sumac and gorgeous ferns as well as towering maple trees mixed with green pine trees.

When traveling on the east side of Michigan during the fall, be sure to check out the Price Nature Center near Saginaw.  You won’t be disappointed.

When we travel to southeast Michigan in the fall we always make it a point to stop by the Kensington Metropolitan Park near Milford.  The park is filled with white tail deer and other fun animals and birds to photograph as you meander amongst beautiful fall leaves that fill the forest floor.

Take time to explore some side roads during your travels to find Michigan’s hidden visual fall treasures. Don’t be afraid to ask locals for tips on their favorite fall color places and how to get there.

Finally, a highlight of our fall photography expeditions is seeing the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore aboard one of the cruise boats out of Munising. Between the peak fall color and the evening magic light striking the rocky sandstone cliffs, the Pictured Rocks area views last October were breathtaking. We also found great fall color hiking at waterfalls, inland lakes and woodlands in the Hiawatha National Forest in the Munising area.

All of these places and countless more are Pure Michigan in the fall. Get out there!

See the image below for Todd and Brad’s top scenic spots in Michigan for fall foliage. Click here to download a full-sized version.

Todd and Brad Reed are a father-son outdoor photography team based in Ludington, Michigan. Visit their website to learn more about the duo and see some of their work.