If you’re a lover of animals and enchanting encounters, you’re in for a treat. From the majestic creatures of the land to the fascinating marine life, West Michigan offers a diverse range of opportunities to get up close and personal with our furry, feathered, and finned friends. So, grab your sense of wonder, and let’s dive into the incredible zoological wonders that await you in West Michigan.
South West Michigan Animal Encounters & Zoos
The opportunity to meet and hand-feed the giraffes in Wild Africa is a signature experience at Binder Park Zoo in Battle Creek. From the overlook deck, guests can meet these gentle giants face-to-face and have an opportunity to experience the thrill of hand-feeding snacks of lettuce to them.
Home to hundreds of reptiles, Critchlow Alligator Sanctuary & Zoological Gardens in Coldwater Country is a must-see destination. Visitors will enjoy daily guided tours and animal interactions. Walk through the swamp, feed your favorite gator, or just watch them bask in the sun and swim in this reptile paradise.
Central West Michigan Animal Encounters & Zoos
Enjoy summertime at the Critter Barn in Zeeland while holding, petting, and feeding friendly farm animals! Ducks, Goslings, Chicks, Goats, Cows, Sheep, Pigs, Bunnies, and Donkeys are looking for YOU! Pack your picnic lunch and enjoy eating in our giant Hoop Barn. Visit Daisy, our giant cow, our Billy Goats and Rams, or simply enjoy a walk around our beautiful new farm!
Join the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum for the 6th Annual “Day of Play” Celebration on Sunday, July 30th, from 12 p.m. – 4 p.m. in downtown Grand Rapids. This community outreach initiative is designed to encourage children and families to celebrate PLAY! This year, they are featuring princesses, face painting, performers, a foam party by Foam GR, special character mascot visits like Buckets from Grand Rapids Gold, bubbles, outdoor drumming, chalk, a free book giveaway, ice cream, messy art, crafts, unicorns, and donkeys from Legacy Stables & MORE! Plus, the museum will be open for play with free admission.
The Blandford Nature Center in Grand Rapids invites children and adults to enjoy, explore, and learn in nature this summer. Partake in Storytime with the
Animals, where you can hear stories with accompanying animals, along with their natural artifacts. Or check out their Wildlife Apprenticeship Programs, where you will learn why these animals were brought to Blandford Nature Center and why they can’t live in the wild. Check out their website for more animal experiences!
John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids has over 1,000 animals that call this place home, including lions, tigers, grizzly bears, chimpanzees, penguins, and many more. Check out their Pygmy Hippo exhibit, where they recently welcomed a new member into the JBZ family Jahari the Hippo. Summer months offer a zipline, ropes course, petting corral, walk-thru parakeets and wallabies, and many up-close animal encounters. They have something for everyone! View their summer hours here.
Enjoy a number of farm-themed festivals at Lewis Adventure Farm & Zoo in the New Era, with over 100 animals and 46+ experiences on-site. Get up close and personal with Jeffrey the Camel, deer, goats, alpacas, and more. This is fun for the whole family!
Tour a fourth-generation dairy farm at Country Dairy in New Era. Your family can visit the Horse Barn to see them get groomed, harnessed, and hitched to the wagon as they get ready for their day on the Farm. You will meet Daze and Dan and learn about how they care for them. Also, be sure to partake in the “Calf Encounter” tour. This includes some extra time for your family in their Calf Barn. It takes place during feeding time so you can meet the baby cows, help feed them and learn about how they care for them. Book your tour here!
Ludington’s Amber Elk Ranch is home to world-class bull elk and a petting zoo where you can get up close and personal with nature. Take a wagon ride at this 130-acre farm and enjoy lunch while you’re there.
Up-close animal interaction is the focus of these popular Holland destinations. At Fellinlove Farm, encounter unique creatures such as Great Pyrenees Livestock Guardian dogs and Mini African Zebu cattle; you can even meet “Unicorns and Mermaids” on the second Saturday night of each month. The Outdoor Discovery Center teems with wildlife; keep your eyes open along nature trails and at the North American animal exhibits, Birds of Prey Center, and fishing ponds. All of these destinations have naturalists on staff and offer unforgettable hands-on learning experiences for the whole family. Learn more here!
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, and the variety and dynamic atmosphere make Boulder Ridge anything but your average zoo.
North West Michigan & Upper Peninsula Animal Encounters & Zoos
Are you looking for an exciting and unique way to explore Mackinac Island? Look no further than the mackPASS butterfly house and horse carriage tour adventures! The mackPASS adventure attraction tickets are perfect for families, couples, or groups of friends who want to experience something truly special. At the Original Butterfly House on Mackinac Island, they are focused on conservation and education. The House is filled with not only butterflies but also other bugs and a few animals. The Mackinac Island Horse Carriage Tour is a one-of-a-kind experience. The tour guides are knowledgeable and experienced, ensuring that riders enjoy the scenic views of the island while getting to learn more about its fascinating history.
Petoskey Area has different opportunities for guests to interact with farm animals and wildlife. If you are looking to experience Horseback Riding in the area, check out Boyne Mountain Resort and The Highlands in Harbor Springs for guided riding. The Sunset Coast Birding Trail within Emmet County is an excellent resource for those looking to get their feet wet in the world of birding. You can explore the Michigan Fisheries Visitor Center with the whole family to take a guided hatchery tour. Next, head to Pond Hill Farm to feed their goats and visit their trout pond!
Cicchelli Second Chance Rescue And Exotics, located in the Cadillac Area is home to over 100 exotic animals! Bring the family along for a VIP tour where you can learn all about the animals that call their facility home! You’ll have the opportunity to interact with and feed several different animals! This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that is fun for all ages!
Venture into the Upper Peninsula’s diverse wildlife world and plan a trip to the educational and interactive MooseWood Nature Center, located in Presque Isle Park in the heart of Marquette. From tiny insects and beautiful birds to fascinating turtles and abundant plant life, MooseWood offers live animal exhibits, educational displays, a kid’s area, and seasonal nature programs for the whole community to enjoy.
Check out the Animal Room at the Raven Hill Discovery Center in East Jordan. This experience includes reptiles and amphibians to look at, pet, or hold. There are also salt and freshwater fish to watch. If you want to become friends with the animals, bring broccoli or apples for the tortoises or worms for the turtle, gar, and Miss Puff. Check out their website for additional workshops or classes throughout the summer.