3 Places to Make Friends with Wild Animals Near Allendale, MI

Need some new friends? Want to have a little wild fun? If you’re in Allendale, MI, you can do both at some of the local zoos!

With COVID-19 making socializing more and more difficult, hanging out with animals is a good alternative. Zoos are starting to open up with limited guest capacity and safety protocols in place.

Allendale is close to many zoos and wildlife parks to provide all the animal encounters your heart desires.

Check out this list and decide for yourself which you want to visit, or just visit them all!

1. John Ball Zoo

This zoo, located on Fulton Street in Grand Rapids, is more than just your average zoo. It has the usual animals, like tigers, monkeys, and bears, but they also have plenty of extra exhibits.

Their permanent exhibits are designed around different continents. Africa, North America, and South America each have their spot at the John Ball Zoo.

They also have an aquarium that boasts penguins, sharks, and a giant Pacific octopus! The aquarium has plenty of different fish and coastal birds to see, as well.

According to their website, the best time to visit is early in the morning when the animals are most active. They also say that you should allow yourself at least two to three hours to see every exhibit in the zoo.

The normal hours of operation are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays. On weekends, they’re open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Children two years old or younger get in free. Kids between the ages of three and twelve pay an entry fee of $9, and adults pay $11.

2. Deer Tracks Junction

This wildlife park is less than thirty miles from Allendale in neighboring Cedar Springs. Although it’s only open on the weekends, it’s a great place for a special weekend trip.

You can expect to see lots of deer, elk, and even reindeer on your visit to Deer Tracks Junction. They also have a petting zoo with pigs, goats, donkeys, and camels.

Plus, there’s a delicious ice cream shop to top off the weekend experience. If you are bringing your kids, they will love the huge outdoor play area and feeding the baby goats with a bottle.

The hours of operation are from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday through Sunday. The price of admissions is $11, but kids age two and under are free.

3. Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park

If you travel just a few miles further, you can find this animal park in Alto, Michigan. Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park is an experience and a half!

They have 180 different species of animals to discover, so you’ll need more than one trip to this big zoo to see them all. It might be a good idea to buy the membership, which allows the family to have unlimited visits to the park throughout the season.

The most popular activity at this zoo is feeding the giraffes. But, Boulder Ridge also has twelve different kinds of antelopes, seven primates, buffalos, zebras, and camels.

The only animals that they lack are African wild cats. They do have bobcats and a lynx, but no tigers or lions.

Boulder Ridge cares for nine threatened animal species and one animal species that is actually extinct in the wild. Supporting them is helping to protect endangered animals.

This park is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 12 to 6 p.m. on Sunday. The cost of admission is $10 for children ages three to eleven and $12 for adults.

As with all the other parks, children two years of age and under are free.

Bonus: Binder Park Zoo

If you are willing to drive more than 60 miles away, you can visit this great zoo in Battle Creek. Binder Park Zoo is so big that it has two separate areas to house all of their animals.

The East Zoo contains North American animals, like the lynx, black bear, and wolf. It also has a snow leopard. These endangered wildcats are beautiful and very hard to find in the wild, but you can see one right here!

This side of the zoo also holds the Miller Children’s Zoo, which is full of domestic animals that you can feed and pet. The Z.O.&O. railroad will take you on a scenic trip through the park for a $3 fee.

There is a free wilderness tram that will bring you to the other side of the zoo, which they call Wild Africa. Otherwise, you can walk a half-mile up the hill and get in your daily steps!

When you get to Wild Africa, you’ll find their Forest Farm full of domestic African animals, like wildebeest and some antelope. You will also see lions, zebras, ostriches, storks, African painted dogs, and much more.

Want an up-close and personal experience with a large but docile animal? You can feed the giraffes!

And if you happen to get hungry yourself, there are two onsite restaurants to choose from.

Oh, and through their live ZooCam, you can experience a part of this zoo without even leaving your house. You can watch the animals right on your computer screen, and you might even catch a new baby animal!

Conclusion

Everyone loves to spend time with our furry, feathered, or scaled friends, and these four parks have plenty of animals to hang with.

All of these are zoos within an hour of Allendale and perfect for a day trip.

Author Bio:

Ryan Sundling is a group marketing manager at Cardinal Group Management. He currently works with The Locale, a community of pet-friendly student apartments in Allendale, MI.