Tennessee Safari Park is the wildest zoo (literally) that I have ever visited. It is unlike other zoos because, at Safari Park, you drive right through the fields where the animals live and can feed all the animals you encounter along the way. It can be a fun day trip from Nashville or make it a weekend, like we did. Either way, plan to have a blast!
We planned a little weekend vacation and visited Discovery Park of America in Union City first, spent the night in Dyersberg, then headed to Tennessee Safari Park the next day. It was a super fun getaway and all within a 3 hour drive from home.
I’ll admit, I was pretty nervous about going to Safari Park and having animals poking their head in my car, while I’m trying to drive and manage my kid who may be freaking out about it too. But I was reassured by friends that it isn’t scary, you really drive slowly the whole way through, and can stop as often as you’d like. In addition to the drive-through safari, there is a safari walk, petting zoo, gift shop, and concessions.
Pro Tips –
- They take Cash Only.
- Be sure you have a full tank of gas before you go! It’s over 5 miles of slow driving and idling. You do not want to run out of gas out there.
- Be sure to stop for the restroom before starting the drive-through safari. There are no stops along the way, and you cannot get out of your car.
- Buy more buckets of food than you think you’ll need. You can only buy them at the front and when you’re out, you’re out. We bought 8 buckets for 2 people. And once you empty one, you’ll want to pour some food from a full bucket into the empty one in case it gets stolen (refer to Tip #6). Once we figured that out, we probably could’ve gotten by with fewer buckets, but I would still get multiple buckets per person.
- Hold on to the buckets as tightly as you can without putting your fingers over the top edge. They have signs up that say, “Zebras Bite.” I can attest to that, but only because my finger was in the way of the food. It was just a bruise.
- The animals are smart. They know how to take the whole bucket from unsuspecting people. The camels that stand right at the front of the park are the worst. You don’t even know what is happening yet and your whole bucket of food is gone! Refer to Tip #4.
- Hold the bucket of food on the outside of the window, not on the inside. I didn’t like the animal’s head in my car, and they make a mess eating. If you hold the food outside the window, they don’t have to stick their head in. Some of the animals can be a little aggressive – not scary, but they want that food – so my kid would pull back from the window and bring the bucket inside the car. The animal would just come right in after the food.
- Keep the extra buckets of food on the floor of the car. Setting them on the dash or console, or anywhere they can be seen, will only encourage the animals to try to eat from them.
- Know that you will have to clean out food from your car afterward, wipe off nose prints from the doors and windows, and you will find pieces of food in your floorboard for months to come. It’s all a part of the fun.
- If you have younger children, it would be wise to bring another adult to sit with them and help them manage.
- If your child gets scared, just roll up the window. You still see the animals up close without feeding them.
- These are wild animals. There have been accidents there. Be smart and be safe.
Tennessee Safari Park is located at 618 Conley Road, Alamo, TN – about a 2 ½ hour drive west of Nashville. Find more information at https://www.tennesseesafaripark.com/.