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! 

Haunted Happenings – Explore the Spooky Side of Pure Michigan

With Halloween just around the corner, it’s time to get in the ghostly spirit and check out the many Pure Michigan destinations offering chills and thrills during the fall season.

Whether it’s historic hotels or sprawling cornfield mazes, there is something for all ages to make this Pure Michigan Halloween a frightfully fun time. Check out this listing of spooky events happening all across Michigan and visit michigan.org for more information to help you plan your fun Halloween activities!

Go to Hell … Michigan! Be sure to visit “The Hysterical Town” in southeast Michigan, where Screams Ice Cream & Halloween Store hosts an afternoon of creepy crafts, music and family activities followed by spooky stories around the bonfire on Saturday, Oct. 22.

Step Back in Time… A spooky good time awaits the entire family when the second annual Trunk or Treat weaves its web of fun at the Walter P. Chrysler Museum, in Auburn Hills, on Sunday, Oct. 23. Goblins can trick or treat throughout the museum’s three floors for candy and trinkets found in rumble seats, trunks and truck beds.

Halloween in Greenfield Village… Plan a visit to Greenfield Village and step back in time to a turn-of-the-20th century Halloween. Watch for the headless horseman, banter with a clever witch and make stops at several treat stations spread throughout the Village. Be sure to reserve tickets in advance for October 21-23, and October 28-30.

Walk On the Wild Side… Children’s Zoo at Celebration Square in Saginaw will host a Zoo Boo October 22-23 and October 29-31, with treats, entertainment, train and carousel rides and a visit with Dr. Slime, the mad scientist.

The Binder Park Zoo inBattle Creek will play host to its annual Great ZooBoo through October 30 (check ahead for times and specific dates). Kids wind their way through a dedicated trick-or-treat trail and can hop aboard the Binda Conservation Carousel ortake a hay ride.

Zoo Boo is the Detroit Zoo’s merry-not-scary Halloween celebration with a cleverly decorated half-mile trick-or-treat trail through the Zoo. Enjoy entertainment in the Zoo Boo Revue tent, or visit the Haunted Reptile House and the Zombie Zone for ghastly games and spooky activities. Scare up some fun October 21-23 and 28-30.

The Zoo Goes Boo at the John Ball Zoo inGrand Rapids October 21, 22, 28 and 29. Have fun with the animals plus live entertainment, goodies and activities for kids.

Little ghouls and boys are welcome to Lansing’s Potter Park Zoo for Boo at the Zoo on October 22 and 23. There will be plenty of activities and treats including crafts for kids, a straw maze, hayrides, a trip through the Boo tunnel and more.

Field of Screams… Niles Haunted House is nationally recognized as one of the best haunted theme parks in the Midwest – and organizers warn anyone afraid of the dark not to come. They say they will “scare the yell out of you” on 44 acres of haunted madness.

Don’t Feed the Monsters… Wiard’s Orchard is said to have a long history of haunted spirits roaming the old orchard. Experience six spooky attractions with more than 115 live monsters on 89 acres just south of Ypsilanti Township.

Worse Than Elm Street… Hate scary movies? You might not want to venture to Yale for Nightmare on Main Street with 6,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor terror. This nightmare is not for the weak.

Welcome to Crazy Town…You might think you have lost your mind after visiting St. Lucifer’s Haunted Asylum atPlaylandPark in theFlint area. As “patients,” you can take an elevator ride to the bowels of the hospital that is filled with shocking horrors.