Zoo Atlanta

800 Cherokee Ave SE, Atlanta

Zoo Atlanta is a must-see, with more than 1,000 animals that represent more than 200 species of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, fishes and invertebrates. It is one of three locations to host giant pandas in the U.S and houses one of the largest gorilla populations in North America.

“The Zoo Atlanta mission is to save wildlife and their habitats through conservation, research, education and engaging experiences,” Zoo Atlanta’s Director of Communication Rachel Davis said. “Our efforts connect people to animals and inspire conservation actions.”

Guest can explore the Scaly Slimy Spectacular: an amphibian and reptile experience along with the African Savanna. Davis said the Savanna is one of the most popular exhibits and home to African elephants, giraffes, zebras, ostriches, meerkats, warthogs and southern white rhinos. Guest can also make some new friends over at Outback Station, a petting zoo featuring friendly goats and sheep.

For the thrill seekers, wild encounters are available with African elephants, Aldabra tortoises, giant pandas, rhinos and lemurs. This behind-the-scenes experience is the chance to get hands on and feed the animals.

“Zoo Atlanta is an outstanding experience for families because there is truly something for everyone,” Davis said. “The zoo experience offers an opportunity to make connections with wildlife, explore the diversity of the natural world around us and to become inspired by the everyday actions we can all take to have an impact on the future of wildlife around the world.”

Zoo Atlanta is open all year long from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekends, closed only on Thanksgiving and Christmas. General admission tickets are $26.99 per person Monday through Thursday and $29.99 Friday through Sunday with discounts available for children, seniors and college students. Children ages 2 and under are free to attend. The zoo has moved to a timed ticketing system to limit the number of guests inside the zoo at a given time.

Parking is located in the lot on Cherokee Avenue and in the new Grant Park Gateway parking facility on Boulevard. The lot rates are $3 an hour for a maximum of $12 a day. The average zoo visit is around 3 hours.

The facility offers rentals on manual wheelchairs for $12, electric charts for $28 and strollers for $9.

Yellow River Wildlife Sanctuary

4525 US 78 Lilburn

Visit the sanctuary, where orphaned or injured wildlife have found new homes in an environment that strives to benefit animals and educate humans. Yellow River is home to about 155 animals including the Eurasian lynx, spider monkeys, wallabies, red ruffed lemurs, servals and more.

“What we are trying to do is about the people and the animals,” Yellow River Animal Sanctuary Curator Clint Murphy said. “We are trying to educate the populous to the point we are out of a job, basically. We want to foster that lifelong love of learning and environmental stewardship.”

Murphy suggests guests don’t miss out on the Lower Trail, a one-mile walking path that circles the park and runs along the Yellow River. The trail gives guest the opportunity to see native Georgia wildlife up close, whether that be insects on the ground or Bard Owls in the trees.

Guest can expect to spend 2-3 hours exploring the sanctuary and will have the opportunity to get hands-on in the petting zoo area that features goats and sheep or feeding the deer, rabbits and alpacas.

General admission tickets are $18 for adults and $12 for children, with discounts available for seniors and military. Children 2 years old and under are free to enter. Tickets must be purchased online with a reservation.

A guided tour is a great way to see the animal residents up close. The 2-hour long tour includes admission, two animal encounters, feed cups for everyone in the group and a guaranteed chance to feed the Bison. Tours are $250 for groups up to five and $50 for each additional person.

The facility is open Wednesday through Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Parking is always free to guests.

Guests are welcome to bring their own food and drinks inside the facility.

Pettit Creek Farms

337 Cassville Rd, Cartersville

The 80-acre farm is home to the largest camel herd in Georgia and other exotic animals such as giraffes, zebras, capybaras, lemurs, llamas and common farm animals. Visitors can experience a petting zoo, hayrides, camel rides, pony rides and inflatable bounces.

General admission for drive-thru tours is $29.99 online per carload and $34.99 at the gate. The drive-thru tour will be open rain or shine. A walking tour is $14 for adults and $12 for children. The tour averages about an hour. Bags of feed are available for $10 online and $15 at the gate.

Add-ons include $5 pony/camel rides, swings, animal feed and $8 Euro bungy. All add-on options are weather permitting.

Elevate your experience by zip lining through the treetops across the farm and get an aerial view of the animals. Zip lining is priced starting at $29.99 per person for a 35-minute adventure.

The working farm is open for tours by reservation January through August. The farm is open Friday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with the last tour leaving at 4 p.m.

The farm hosts two annual events: “Pumpkin Fest,” September through October, and “A Country Christmas,” Thanksgiving at 6 p.m. through Dec. 30.

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