Best Safari Park (2017)


You don't have to fly to Africa to go on safari! At these 10 safari and wildlife parks, nominated by a panel of experts and voted by our readers as the best in the U.S., visitors get up close and personal with exotic and endangered animals from around the country and the world. Many of the facilities focus on conservation as well as education.

  • Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center

    Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center
    Divide, Colo.

    The Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center, a wildlife park certified by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, seeks to educate the public about the importance of wolves, coyotes and foxes to the North American ecosystem and about the habitats that support them. The sanctuary provides natural habitats for animals that can no longer live in the wild. Guided walking tours give visitors an up-close view of timber, Arctic and Mexican grey wolves, coyotes, red and swift foxes.
    Photo courtesy of Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center

  • Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park

    Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park
    Ashland, Neb.

    An accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park invites visitors to drive along a 4-mile route through habitats populated by native North American plant and animal species – American elk, bison, waterfowl, raptors and white-tailed deer. At Wolf Canyon, guests can hop out of the car to see grey wolves and American black bears or walk through the half-acre Eagle Aviary.
    Photo courtesy of Becker1999 / Flickr

  • Fossil Rim Wildlife Center

    Fossil Rim Wildlife Center
    Glen Rose, Texas

    Situated in the hill country of North Texas just south of Fort Worth, Fossil Rim Wildlife Center (accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums) fights to conserve species in peril, while giving visitors the chance to learn about a host of animals and view them in spacious habitats. Species living in the wildlife center include gazelle, American bison, oryx, deer, black-footed cat, cheetah, wildebeest, emu, giraffe, kudi, zebra, cranes, wolves and rhinos. Guests can drive through in their own vehicles or sign up for a behind-the-scenes guided tour.
    Photo courtesy of Fossil Rim Wildlife Center

  • San Diego Zoo Safari Park

    San Diego Zoo Safari Park
    San Diego

    At the AZA-accredited San Diego Zoo Safari Park, visitor can feed a giraffe, observe rhinos with their young, watch an elephant herd splash through a pond or see lions basking in the sun. A tram transports guests through the 1,800 African-themed acres, and regularly scheduled Animal Encounters offer a more intimate animal experience, led by park keepers.
    Photo courtesy of San Diego Zoo Park

  • Bearizona

    Williams, Ariz.

    Visitors to Bearizona, situated on 160 acres of land near the town of Williams, dive through more than three miles of Ponderosa pine forest on a safari to see North American animals in naturalistic habitats. After the driving portion of the park, guests can head on foot through Fort Bearizona, where winding walkways lead past smaller animals on exhibit. Guests can interact with animals in the Bearizona Barnyard petting zoo or learn more about the animals on display during daily keeper chats.
    Photo courtesy of rockychrysler / Flickr

  • B. Bryan Preserve

    B. Bryan Preserve
    Point Arena, Calif.

    Certified by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the B. Bryan Preserve on California's Mendocino coast has a mission to breed and preserve African hoof stock. Visitors to the Point Arena wildlife park have the opportunity to observe rare and endangered animals, including antelope, zebra, kudu and giraffe in large, open fields similar to their natural habitats. Available by reservation only, 90-minute tours give visitors an up-close view of each species.
    Photo courtesy of Cody and Maureen / Flickr

  • Lion Country Safari

    Lion Country Safari
    Loxahatchee, Fla.

    Palm Beach may be far away from the wilds of Africa, but it’s also home to Florida’s only drive-through safari, the AZA-accredited Lion Country Safari. Established in 1967, this safari park invites visitors to observe and interact with more than 900 animals divided between seven sections. Guests might spot ostrich, wildebeest and impala on the Serengeti Plains, observe a pride of lions in Gorongosa Reserve or see giraffe and endangered rhino in Hwange National Park.
    Photo courtesy of Lion Country Safari

  • Safari West

    Safari West
    Santa Rosa, Calif.

    A bit of Africa in the heart of California’s wine country, AZA-accredited Safari West welcomes guests to the “Sonoma Serengeti,” where a 3-hour riding and walking adventure takes them through the 400-acre preserve. Giraffes, zebras, oryx, gazelle, antelopes, buffalo, wildebeest and many other species number among the 900 animals that call the park home. For an even more in-depth safari experience, visitors can choose to stay the night in a luxurious safari tent and fall asleep to the sounds of nocturnal animals.
    Photo courtesy of Safari West

  • African Safari Wildlife Park

    African Safari Wildlife Park
    Port Clinton, Ohio

    Visitors to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums-accredited African Safari Wildlife Park in Port Clinton can choose between two adventures. The classic drive-thru safari gives visitors the chance to meet and feed animals like camels, giraffes, bison, deer, alpaca, zebras and bongo from the comfort of the car. The walk-thru safari more closely resembles a traditional zoo, where visitors can observe rare white alligators, Red River hogs, white-handed gibbons and massive tortoises.
    Photo courtesy of Groupon / Flickr

  • The Wilds

    The Wilds
    Cumberland, Ohio

    An AZA-accredited branch of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, The Wilds helps visitors gain a fresh perspective on endangered species through a series of immersive experiences within the 9,000-acre park. Rare and endangered animals from around the globe live in open range habitats that visitors can explore via open-air safari vehicle. Guests can also explore the park by bicycle, horseback or zipline.
    Photo courtesy of Todd Petrie / Flickr

The top 10 winners in the category Best Safari Park are as follows:

  1. Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center - Divide, Colo.
  2. Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park - Ashland, Neb.
  3. Fossil Rim Wildlife Center - Glen Rose, Texas
  4. San Diego Zoo Safari Park - San Diego
  5. Bearizona - Williams, Ariz.
  6. B. Bryan Preserve - Point Arena, Calif.
  7. Lion Country Safari - Loxahatchee, Fla.
  8. Safari West - Santa Rosa, Calif.
  9. African Safari Wildlife Park - Port Clinton, Ohio
  10. The Wilds - Cumberland, Ohio

A panel of experts partnered with 10Best editors to picked the initial 20 nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote. Experts Debra Erickson (International Zoo Educators Association), Eileen Ogintz (Taking the Kids) and Alan Sironen (Zoo Consultants International) were chosen based on their knowledge and experience of the industry.

Other nominated safari parks included Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center, Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch, Northwest Trek Wildlife Park, Six Flags Great Adventure & Safari, Virginia Safari Park, White Oak, Wildlife Safari and Wild Wilderness Drive-Through Safari.

Congratulations to all our winners!

License the 10Best Readers' Choice Award Logo



AlertThe Experts

Debra Erickson

Debra Erickson

Debra Erickson

Eileen Ogintz

Eileen Ogintz

Eileen Ogintz

Alan Sironen

Alan Sironen

Alan Sironen