If you're looking for a fun day trip within driving distance of Nashville, I highly suggest checking out Harmony Park Safari in Huntsville, AL. When I Googled "fun day trips close to Nashville", this destination was one of the first results and when I read the reviews and saw all the pictures, I knew why.
Harmony Park Safari is all of my childhood dreams come true. I am a huge animal lover and have always dreamed of moving way out to the country and having a menagerie of cool animals and that is exactly what the owners of the park have done.
The park, open March through November, is basically a large drive-through free-range zoo. Most of the animals are free roaming and will come right up to your car, in anticipation of treats. (minus the ones who wouldn't play nice together, like the crocs) You can leave your windows up or down and you are advised to throw the food away from your vehicle as to avoid having several new passengers in your car.
When you arrive, you are greeted and given information about the park and the rules. You can also purchase treats for the animals. If you have more than two kids, or two kids and a very excited adult, I would get two of the big buckets of food, so you don't run out. Admission is $8 a piece and free for ages 2 and under. Treat buckets cost $5 a piece or you can get a small red Solo cup of feed for a buck. (lame deer joke)
These animals are not shy and although you will be tempted to pet them or otherwise interact with them, don't. They are still "wild" animals, especially the zebra hybrid, he is a little stinker.
That being said, roll your window down and have a ball. These animals are big time camera hams and were super excited to see us and our red Solo cups. I swear the best part of my day was the laughter coming from the back seat.
The park is not really all that huge, but you can drive around as many times as you like, before exiting to go to the tortoise area and the reptile house. I suggest making several trips around, just to be able to soak it all in.
Make sure your kids are quick on the window buttons, in case of a particularly persistent animal, like the zebra hybrid or the emus. There are also other cool features at the park, like the huge sequoia tree section that is believed to be over 2000 years old with some really cool history facts placed on the rings of the tree's timeline. (that sounded way better in my head)
This destination would make a wonderful homeschool field trip. You could gather information about all of the animals you will see and maybe learn about their habitats and habits and such. Orrrr, you could just go and make some new memories, either way, this was definitely one day the family and I will remember for a long time! (I'm already planning our next trip back in March)
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