Get up close and personal with animals in West Michigan! Here, you’ll find animals that are native to the area, educational zoos, and even collections of extinct species. No matter what you’re looking for, West Michigan is sure to have a unique animal encounter for your entire family.
Zoos & Animal Encounters in Southern West Michigan
Binder Park Zoo in Battle Creek has animals as far as the eye can see. Watch herds of animals roaming the 18-acre savanna in Wild Africa, or stay overnight in the only authentic Tented Camp in the Midwest. Experience the thrill of hand-feeding a giraffe and enjoy fun and unique camps, tours, and special events for all ages. Upcoming events include Reptile Weekend on August 5th and 6th, Tour de Zoo on Thursday, August 24th, Sunset on the Savanna on Friday, September 1st, and BontebOktoberfest on Thursday, October 14th.
Kingman Museum in Battle Creek has a very large collection of animals on display as part of their natural history museum. Get up close and personal with their animals, including a polar bear and musk ox. Or experience how big extinct animals like saber tooth cats and mastodons were. The museum has a variety of animals from Michigan forests to those found in coral reefs, the plains, and more.
Pierce Cedar Creek Institute in Hastings is a nature center, environmental education center, and a biological field station located on 742 acres. The central parcel of 553 acres is home to a great diversity of ecosystems, including prairie fen, old and young growth forests, mesic prairie and savanna, as well as open water bodies. They’re hosting a Michigan Butterfly Network Field Trip on Thursday, August 17th from 2pm to 5pm, with possibilities to see a variety of butterflies, including Coral Hairstreak, Banded Hairstreak, Striped Hairstreak, Silver-bordered Fritillary, and Milbert’s Tortoiseshell.
Have you ever wondered what happens to milk after it leaves the dairy farm and before it ends up in your refrigerator, or how milk is made into butter, ice cream or cheese? Attend the Fun with Dairy Food workshop at the W.K. Kellogg Bird Sanctuary in Augusta with your family to learn about the science of dairy products on August 8th from 6:30pm to 7:30pm. Registration is required by August 4th, and is limited to 30 participants.
The farms around South Haven are abundant and a key attraction for visitors. Their U-Pick season is now in full swing, and some local orchards even have hands-on Pet & Feed experiences with chickens, goats, alpacas, and bunnies. Come and visit with the animals up close and in person while picking blueberries, sweet and sour cherries, peaches, plums, apples, and pumpkins.
On August 3rd, Virtue Cider in Fennville is holding a special edition of their Thursday Night Market, with a Sheep-Shearing Day and Wearables Market. Meet on the lawn at the Virtue Farm from 5pm to 8pm with the flock of sheep that help trim the grounds, and then enjoy a sheep-shearing demo as they get trimmed themselves! The focus for Virtue Cider’s weekly Thursday Night Market will continue in the theme of fiber and wearables with fiber demonstrations, such as yarn-spinning, and great local vendors with wearables and fiber-based goods on offer.
Arts and Eats is a free self-driving tour of Allegan and Barry Counties and the surrounding rural region. Participants visit local artisans in their studios, and support farms that grow food, fiber, and heritage animals. Each stop along the tour Arts and Eats raises awareness and appreciation of the region’s human and natural resources.
More Zoos & Animal Encounters in Southern West Michigan
- Leila Arboretum & Children’s Garden, Battle Creek
Zoos & Animal Encounters in Central West Michigan
Lewis Farms & Petting Zoo in New Era has a wide variety of animals, including everything from goats and donkeys to lemurs and camels. Their 700-acre family-owned farm also has tons of other activities for kids and a full farmers market and bakery. Come meet all the animals when you visit Lewis Farms & Petting Zoo!
The Coopersville Farm Museum is hosting their Summerfest Kids Day: Kids, Crafts, & Critters on August 9th and 26th. Enjoy indoor multigenerational fun, including a quilt show, kids activities and crafts, and furry or feathery friends to pet. These events are from 10am to 1pm and are free to the public.
Located on 80 acres of land in Alto, Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park is a unique, hands-on experience for the entire family. The park boasts a distinct collection of exotic animals and reptiles. The variety and dynamic atmosphere make Boulder Ridge anything but your average zoo.
The Critter Barn in Zeeland raises a variety of domestic farm animals and poultry, a sample of farm crops, and a few orchard trees. Their curriculum focuses on promoting an understanding of agriculture, food sources, animal care, animal science, plus volunteer initiatives, and the farmer’s role in feeding the world. Their authentic learning environment comes with many friendly animals along the way!
Farming and animals are a big part of Dutch heritage. At the Nelis’ Dutch Village in Holland, you can spend some personal time with your favorite farm animals. The zoo has many activities for you to try, including taking a goat for a walk, petting a bunny, meeting a mini-horse, and more.
Take a tour of Country Dairy in New Era to meet the cows that make your favorite milk, cheese, and ice cream. Your guided tour lasts an hour and a half and takes you throughout their working dairy farm and milk processing facility. Throughout your visit, you’ll be able to learn about the history of Country Dairy, dairy farming, and the dairy industry.
The Muskegon area is committed to helping raptors that are sick, injured or orphaned. They have a rehabilitation center that is open to the public two days each month, giving you the opportunity to visit and see a number of different species of raptors, including eagles, owls and falcons. In addition to the birds, they have hands-on activities to learn more about raptors.
You won’t be able to pet the animals that you see in Mecosta County, but you can still learn about them! There’s a wildlife education center in the area which serves as an education resource for Ferris State University college students, K-12 school children, and members of the community.
More Zoos & Animal Encounters in Central West Michigan
- Deer Tracks Junction, Cedar Springs
- John Ball Zoological Garden, Grand Rapids
- Ottawa County Parks, West Olive
- Outdoor Discovery Center, Holland
Zoos & Animal Encounters in Northern West Michigan
Grand Traverse Butterfly House and Bug Zoo in Williamsburg may have hundreds of bugs on display, but there’s no need to be afraid! Their goal is to educate you, not scare you beyond enjoying your visit. Spend time with their butterflies, beetles, honeybees, frogs, and more from behind the glass, giving you the opportunity to check them out without getting too close for comfort.
With 4,500 acres to explore Shanty Creek Resorts offers a variety of options to just get outside and be one with nature. Grab a pair of hiking boots, walking shoes, or even a bicycle to enjoy the on-site trails at the resort. Or, head just three and a half miles down the road from the resort to Glacial Hills Pathway and Natural Area. Enjoy the 750 acres that make up this combined trail system suited for hiking, biking and wildlife viewing.
Kids love Friske’s Farm Market outdoor Orchard Playland in Ellsworth. They have a seasonal farm animal petting zoo, self-guided nature walk, u-pick fruit, and festive events, making every visit a bushel of fun!
Get familiar with a variety of animals in the Charlevoix area! Here, you can see animals up close at a petting zoo, or you can learn about reptiles and amphibians at their local learning center.
More Zoos & Animal Encounters in Northern West Michigan
- Grass River Natural Area, Bellaire