On the outskirts of the Queen city are some amazing places to experience live animals, birds and even a reptile or 2. Even though there is no zoo directly in the downtown Charlotte area, you don’t have to travel far to find one. From birds of prey at the Carolina Raptor Center to exotic animals at Tiger World, there is something for every animal enthusiast to enjoy. When searching for a Charlotte Zoo, check out our list of 10 tips so you’ll have the best experience.
- Buy your tickets online. Before you head out on your animal adventure, check to see if you can buy your tickets early. At Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia, SC, you can save as much as 15% off just for buying online. Riverbanks Zoo is home to over 2,000 animals and a botanical garden. This 170-acre site features the animals in a natural habitat setting and is only 93 miles from Charlotte.
- Check out the zoo’s calendar of events. Many zoo websites feature a calendar showing upcoming events on site. Zootastic Park of Lake Norman has a link on their website dedicated to special events like their most recent annual Easter Egg Hunt and information on the Christmas Wonderland of Lights held each holiday season.
- Don’t forget your camera! There’s nothing like seeing animals up close and in their natural habitat. Capturing these memories on your camera will mean you can relive those moments again and again. The Carolina Raptor Center in Huntersville, NC is located at Latta Plantation Nature Preserve. The preserve features 25 species of raptors. Things you’ll want to remember at the center are the many exhibits including Vulture Culture, The Owl Forest and A Day in the Life of the Raptor Hospital.
- Schedule your visit around the zoo’s feeding times. Tiger World in Rockwell is just a 40-minute drive from Charlotte. The preserve promotes animal conservation and is dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation, and preservation of exotic animals. They offer a special Carnivore Feeding Safari by appointment only from May to September. The tour gives an up close and personal look at the animals during their feeding time in their natural setting.
- See if there are special programs for children. Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia offers specials for kids like their Toddler Tales on Thursdays and Discovery Day Classes for ages 2 to 5 years old. There is even a Parent’s Night Out for ages 4 to 11 years. Kids will enjoy animals, crafts, movie, and pizza dinner.
- Know hours of operation before you go. Some zoos have special hours during the off season. Hollywild Animal Park in Wellford offers reduced rates and special hours during the month of March. They also offer extended hours during the summer months.
- Bring cash. In this day and age of debit cards and paying by phone, some of these places accept cash only. Lazy 5 Ranch in Mooresville, NC is cash only upon entering. This privately owned and operated facility represents 750 animals from 6 continents. You can hop on the wagon tour to feed the animals or feed them from the comfort of your own car.
- Pack your lunch. Enjoy a picnic lunch during your visit to the zoo instead of eating out. The North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro, NC has free public picnic areas overlooking the lake. It’s a great spot to take a break from walking and get energized for the rest of the day.
- Visit the gift shop. Take home a souvenir from the gift shop to remember your day. The North Carolina Zoo offers educational items, jewelry, shirts, stuffed animals and candy! Zootastic Park in Lake Norman also has a zoo gift shop featuring items from around the world.
- Wear comfortable shoes! The North Carolina Zoo, for example, sits on over 2,000 acres. It is known as the largest walk-through zoo in the world. You’ll want to be comfortable so you can walk to each exhibit and make the most of the day.
Of course, at the end of the day, you’ll need a comfortable place to relax. Here at the Davidson Village Inn in Davidson, NC, we offer 18 rooms with 5 different room types. We’ll even provide breakfast the next morning to ensure your day gets off to the right start. For reservation information, give us a call at 704-892-8044 or book online. We look forward to hosting you soon!