When I was telling friends about our family’s plans to visit the Wilds yesterday, most people I spoke with said, “I’ve always wanted to go there.” Please don’t delay this trip – Go!

We had the best family outing yesterday at The Wilds. We booked the “Wilds Animal Encounter” tour, which runs a little shorter because we had both grandparents and kids along. It was the perfect choice for our family. The Wilds also offers other tours that are longer -- Open Air Safari -- and closed vehicle tours -- Safari Transport -- to suit your family needs.

Coming from Dublin, it took us about one hour and fifteen minutes coming out Route 70. Our GPS led us a different way than the Wilds directions, so we tried both- they were about the same. There is a small detour in Zanesville but it was easily followed. Driving up to the Wilds we saw the beautiful Ohio countryside. We loved seeing the hills and farmland and it really made us feel like we were escaping the city for the day.

When you enter the Wilds property, you park in a lower parking lot. From there, a shuttle takes you up to the Visitor Center where you can purchase your tours, or just go ahead and board your tour if you reserved your tickets online. There are concessions and restrooms available here, and throughout the tour with regularity.

The open-air safari vehicle reminded me of the one at Disney’s Animal Kingdom – but with way more legroom and better seats. There is an area in the rear for wheelchairs and we were free to move around the vehicle once it came to a stop when we were viewing animals. Be prepared as the guide shared that they have two seasons – dusty and muddy! Also be sure to bring your binoculars and camera. The kids loved being able to take their own pictures when the animals were close to the vehicle.

Animals? Yep. We saw so many I can’t remember all the names. Entering the solar powered gates to different enclosures kind-of felt like Jurassic Park but without the fear that a Dino might be closer than he appears!

Bison were roaming a range – and the Wilds has close to 10,000 acres to range – so we had to look carefully to see them through the pastures. Some animals are so close they are next to the vehicle, and some are grazing in the distance. I loved seeing the animals in their natural behaviors – and seeing more than one species in an enclosure. Each enclosure had a natural water source, shelter and grazing areas.

We saw Bison, Giraffes, Rhinos, Camels, Zebras, Oryx, Osprey and the list goes on and on. On the longer tours, you will see even more animals! Our guide was great at giving facts about the different species and explaining their conservation efforts. Questions were encouraged and it was great to witness this experience with our kids!

When our safari tour was finished, we stopped at the Administration building where we were treated to some close-up animal encounters. A lot of these animals are the same “ambassador” animals the Columbus Zoo uses – but some were different. Touching the animals and lots of questions were encouraged and I think the kids really learned a lot about some unusual species.

We exited the vehicle at the Overlook building – which is aptly named. What a view! We wished we could stay overnight – and just might next time at one of the Yurts you can rent (Adults only though!). The zipline tours looked like fun and the horseback rider waved his hat at us as he went by. There is a café at the Overlook building as well as a Gift shop.

Catch a frequent shuttle back down to your car and you are on your way with a lot of great family memories – and kids sleeping all the way home!

~ Post by Katie