Lion Country Safari: 2003 Lion Country Safari Rd, Loxahatchee, FL 33470

Do your children love animals? Did they ever want to see them up close…closer than a regular experience at a zoo? Well, when your family takes a vacation in The Palm Beaches, don’t miss a trip to the Lion Country Safari. It’s the only drive through safari in Florida where the animals will literally come across your path to say hello! It was amazing how close they were to the vehicle and they didn’t seem to think anything of it!

Rhino_signOne of the other behind-the-scenes tours that is less expensive, but still looked like fun, is the Insider Walking Tour. Though a less extensive tour, the Insider Walking Tour is a great option for families to be introduced to some of the animals including a bird, a mammal and a reptile. For the ultimate experience, guests can do both the VIP Tour and the Insider Walking Tour for a discounted price.We learned that Lion Country Safari offers special behind-the-scenes tours so we took theVIP Tour.

With the VIP Tour, you can get the opportunity to get out of your car and touch some of the animals under the instruction of one of the senior staff guides. The girls loved taking a seat with one of the turtles and even giving a rhino a good scratch on his back! We drove close to the lions and zebras and received tickets to feed the giraffes after the tour was done. The VIP tour also comes with tickets to the amusement park on site so you could easily spend the entire day enjoying a variety of activities at Lion Country Safari. We noticed that there is a KOA campground as well which would be a great place for a family to pitch a tent, park an RV or stay in a cabin for some extra fun.

Col_on_TurtleReservations are required for the special tours and restrictions do apply. For example, kids must be at least 5 years old to participate and the tours are subject to availability of the staff members. It is definitely worth the experience so you will want to plan ahead.A specialphotography tour is also available for visitors who want to capture special photos of the animals. A tour guide will drive with the windows down to allow for photo ops throughout the park. Like the other behind-the-scenes tours, a reservation, deposit and minimum number of guests are required.

Of course a “regular” tour of the safari is pretty special. You still get the chance to drive through and see many animals and some will approach your car! Print out this list of fun facts for your trip. You can read them in between animal encounters. Feeding the giraffes is a can’t-miss opportunity! A few dollars get you some romaine lettuce to feed them, and they are very appreciative and friendly. You might even be able to pet one! Also, make sure to print out admission coupons (available on the LCS website) or show the coupon from your phone when entering. Hot, sunny days may find the animals resting in the shade, so if you can go on an overcast/rainy day, go for it! Getting there early in the morning is also a good option.

Additional Idea:Some Additional Tips & Fun Facts for Lion Country Safari:
Exhibit Talks are offered throughout the day – check schedule
Family rates are offered for 10 or more people. Reunion? Big family?
• Open 365 days a year!
• No pets are allowed inside your vehicle. A free kennel is provided
• No Convertibles or soft topped roofs allowed in safari park
• Rental vehicles are available on a first come, first served basis
• Windows and sunroofs must be closed at all times, no broken windows allowed
• Can’t tow another vehicle such as a boat or motorcycle and nothing in truck beds
• Sneak in some education for K-5 graders with this field research worksheet
• Lion Country Safari supports conservation efforts

The West Palm Beach Zoo at Dreher Park offers a great, more traditional zoo experience for the family. On select Friday nights the zoo “comes alive,” and feature a family-friendly theme and entertainments such as roving animal encounters, giveaways, and live music! 1301 Summit Blvd, West Palm Beach, FL 33405

Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens: 253 Barcelona Rd, West Palm Beach, FL 33401

Have you ever heard of Ann Norton? Well, if not, let me introduce her to you…Ann Norton was an artist and sculptor who created works of art starting at age five! She studied in New York and exhibited her works around the world. In the late 1970s, she started a foundation which supports the The Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens and welcomes visitors to the residence, studio and gardens.

Ann_Norton_2We absolutely fell in love with the gardens, the sculptures and all of the opportunities to explore and learn about science, nature and art. For our visit, we were joined by a wonderful group of children from a nearby school. They were the perfect partners to uncover all the fun around the gardens. We used the activity backpacks provided for visitors to answer questions and do some art activities of our own. Each pack had a copy of the book The Awesome Adventures of Annie V , a children’s book based on the adventures of the artist, Ann Norton. The Awesome Adventures of Annie V is an excellent resource for making the gardens come to life in a fun, interactive way. For instance, as you stand in front of Ann’s brick sculptures you can read about the time Ann helped the family’s brick mason and was taught how to mix the cement! We used the book as our inspiration for the tour and had a LOT of fun!

If you are looking for additional educational tips or ideas for your visit, there are also curriculum guides that parents can use that are specifically aimed at science, language and visual arts exploration. You might want to time your trip to coincide with the Festival of Trees or one of the other events held throughout the year.

An Additional Tip:
Make sure to chat with the staff members, since they can be a mine of interesting information! Also, don’t forget to see Ann Norton’s old studio to get an idea of how her art was created.

Additional Ideas:
For masterpieces of 19th and 20th century art by the likes of Monet, Picasso, and Pollock, you can visit the Norton Museum of Art. It features five different art collections (including American, Chinese, and Photography) as well as a full-service, gourmet restaurant located in the West Courtyard of the Museum that is open for lunch. 1451 S Olive Ave, West Palm Beach, FL 33401

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