West Michigan’s Many Zoos & Animal Encounters

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.


West Michigan- Approved Zoos

John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids is home to over 1,400 animals including lions, tigers, grizzly bear, chimpanzees, penguins, and many more. During the summer months, they even offer a zipline, ropes course, petting corral, and many up-close animal encounters.

Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park in Alto is a unique, hands-on experience for the entire family. The park boasts a distinct collection of exotic animals and reptiles, making Boulder Ridge anything but your average zoo!

Even if you’re visiting Binder Park Zoo in Battle Creek when they aren’t hosting an event, they’re still a great place to bring the family. Discover spectacular views of wild animals from elevated boardwalks, and get nose-to-nose with one of the largest giraffe herds in the country as you explore Wild Africa.

West Michigan Wildlife Hotspots

The city of Lansing is a great spot to take in some beautiful nature and unique animal encounters. From zoos and parks to exotic pet shops, there is something for everyone in Michigan’s capital city!

Looking to enjoy some Pure Michigan wilderness? Michigan State Parks are always a safe bet. From nature trails filled with deer and birds, to lakes and rivers bursting with local fish, you are sure to see some astonishing nature on your next trip.

There are some great zoos not far from the city of Sault Ste. Marie. This summer, stop by to tour a couple of the state’s best zoos that the kids will surely never forget!

If you think that the bustling city of Grand Rapids doesn’t have much noteworthy wildlife to take in, then think again! Sit outside on the patio at JW Marriott’s restaurant,, or The Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck to take in local dogs being walked, birds flying by, and even potential fish jumping out of the Grand River.

The city of Bellaire is the perfect place to get your animal and wildlife fix this summer! Stop by the Grass River Natural Area to catch a glimpse of rare birds, turtles, snakes, deer, bobcat, fox, and much more. Or, head on over to Shanty Creek Resort. With 4,500 acres to explore, the resort offers a variety of options to 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.

Gull Meadow Farms in Kalamazoo opens for the season in September and you will not want to miss out! They offer an exceptional petting zoo, family-friendly activities, an apple orchard, pumpkin patch, and more. This is the perfect spot to kick off your West Michigan fall.

The city of Charlevoix is a great spot to take in some beautiful West Michigan nature and animals! Whether you decide to brush up on your reptile facts and stop in one of the historic museums in the area, or simply go for a stroll through a park, you are sure to see some wildlife, along with everything else the beautiful destination has to offer.

Head on over to Muskegon to take in some wildlife like never before! The area has some great animal rehabilitation centers and animal sanctuaries that you will want to have on your summer bucket list.

Coldwater Country is home to some must-see animal sanctuaries and wildlife gardens. From being able to feed alligators to enjoying guided tours, there is something for everyone in the family to enjoy.

Other Unique Ways to Interact with West Michigan Wildlife

Critter Barn in Zeeland is the perfect spot to learn all about farm animals and have the chance to get up and personal with chickens, ducks, rabbits, sheep, goats, cows, and so much more!

Stop by Nelis’ Dutch Village in Holland to visit their adorable and friendly petting zoo and have the rare opportunity to take a goat for a walk!

This summer, take the family to enjoy pony rides, hayrides, fishing, barn animals, and feed the sheep and goats at Teusink’s Pony Farm in Holland.

Take the kids to the Grand Traverse Butterfly House in Williamsburg where they can learn all about the wonders of butterflies and their bug relatives. Stop by to take part in educational presentations, classes, outside nature walks, or even host your next private party or wedding in the beautiful and scenic garden!

Stop by Double JJ Resort in Rothbury for the horseback riding adventure of a lifetime! From riding lessons to scenic trail rides, there is something for every experience level.

Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids is sure to blow you away with their beauty! They have many informative animal exhibits, not to mention the hundreds of exotic butterflies fluttering around.

Cran-Hill Ranch in Rodney is the place to be this summer. This remarkable youth camp offers a variety of great outdoor activities, including fishing, a petting zoo, and local favorite, horseback riding.

2018 Wildlife Events in West Michigan

Binder Park Zoo in Battle Creek has some outstanding events happening this summer! From August 4th to August 5th, stop by for Reptile Weekend, one of Michigan’s largest reptile events. Next up, on Thursday, August 9th, they are hosting Tour de Zoo, where you can bike through the zoo and relax in the pavilion with live music, great food and drinks, and games and giveaways. On Friday, August 31st, don’t miss the ultimate date night, Sunset on Savanna. Stroll the grounds at your own pace before making your way to the International Depot to travel by tram to Wild Africa! The mood is set as giraffe, zebra, and antelope greet you just as the sun slowly sinks behind the savanna.

Get up close and personal with birds in their natural habitat at the W.K. Kellogg Bird Sanctuary in Augusta this summer. You’ll be able to see all kinds of birds, like waterfowl, game birds, songbirds, and birds of prey. Take a tour, or explore on your own! They also have a couple of great events coming up like their Birds and Coffee Walk on Wednesday, August 8th or their Hummingbird Banding Demonstration on Tuesday, August 21st.

The Petting Zoo at Lewis Farm Market in New Era has over 75 unique animals for you to see, from alpacas to zebras. You can even feed the beautiful parakeets! The star of the show is the famous camel, Jeffrey. Stop by and help celebrate his golden birthday on Saturday, August 11th. The party will kick off with high-energy music, games, and activities that will get you into the groove! Hungry? They’ve got you covered there as they pull out the grill and load it up for the annual Corn Roast!