A “Wild” Hair
You see what I did there? I got a “wild” hair over Labor Day weekend to take the family on a quick road trip to the Alabama Safari Park in Hope Hull, Alabama. It is very doable with small children in tow with it being just an hour and a half from Birmingham. We were still back home before dinner, even with a relaxing lunch on the Alabama River in Montgomery and a stop for ice cream at Clanton’s Peach Park. If you are thinking about going on a social-distancing-friendly day trip that is a little out of the ordinary, read along to hear more.
Before You Go
My biggest piece of advice is to be prepared for a little mess. The park does not rent vehicles to drive through the safari because of COVID, so you’ll be in your own car. I took a couple of wet soapy hand towels for clean up. We always keep antibacterial wipes in the car and made sure we were well stocked for this trip. I also saw a few cars that had towels draped over their rolled down windows to protect their car. We didn’t think of that brilliant idea, so we left with really fun drool all down the side of our van. To me, it added to the laughter of the day. I have a one year old, a two year old, and a four year old, so we also decided to take all the car seats out when we arrived. The kids could now roam free from side-to-side and could feed and pet the animals better.
All the Squeals!
The 350-acre park was created in 2018 and supports wildlife conservation in 25+ countries globally. You will see zebra, camels, llamas, giraffe, bison, watusi, impalas, kangaroos, and so much more.
You can purchase buckets of food as you enter. Believe me, you will want more than one. Let me give you a few words of wisdom on the front end. The camels WILL steal the entire bucket, so two hands are needed to feed them! The animals are gentle and will most definitely come right up to and into your car for the food. Some of them really enjoyed hanging around to get a little love from the kids. Others were quick to move on to find more food. We got tickled at the ones that would stand right in the middle of the road and give us a stare down until we put the food out the window.
The kids absolutely loved all of the personal interaction. At first, there were squeals and screams of fear and hesitation. After a few slobbery kisses, though, the apprehension turned to delight. I’m not sure if the animals can hear yet from all the high-pitched squeals of excitement that were pouring out of our car.
Around the World in One Hour
The park has animals from nearly every continent, and they give you a guidebook as you purchase tickets so you can learn about each of them. It took us a little less than an hour to do the full loop. You can also ride through as many times as you want on the same day! We chose to go through twice and realized that we were smart to have arrived right as the park opened. The animals weren’t nearly as active on the second loop because they had already eaten and the temperature was rising quickly. You can stop after each full loop to purchase more food, use the restroom, buy refreshments, or just visit the gift shop if you want.
Going on a Walk-About
We stopped to enjoy the “walk-about area” after our second loop. This is where you will find African Pygmy Goats, Kune Kune Pigs, Red Kangaroos, lemurs, giraffes, the budgie house, and more. You can purchase romaine to feed the giraffes at the gift shop. Those twenty-two-inch prehensile tongues, especially the one that licked my son on the head, made for some great laughs. The walk-about is spread out and very easy to stay more than six feet away from others. We opted out of taking strollers. You may want to consider it for this portion of the park if you have non-walkers, though.
Overall, it was a really great day trip that we would most definitely do again. We stopped for lunch at the Capital Oyster Bar on the way home. It is situated right on the Alabama River and offers socially distanced outdoor seating overlooking the water. You can’t drive south on I-65 without stopping at the Peach Park for dessert! I have never realized how many cute outdoor tables, benches, swings, and chairs they have. All five of us relaxed on a swing in the shaded garden, enjoying our ice cream with no one else around. Okay, let me be realistic. We really sat on a shaded swing trying to catch melting ice cream while keeping babies from falling off the swing! Such is life and life is great!
Do you have any favorite kid-friendly Alabama day trips? If so, tell me about them in the comments! We are always looking for new places.