Where to Find the Best Safaris in the U.S.

For animal lovers and adventure seekers, safaris are the highlight of almost any vacation. You can see exotic creatures in their natural habitats and sometimes even get to interact with them in unique ways.

But it’s hard to replicate that exotic experience when you’re not in Africa. Thankfully these attractions have bridged the gap for families who desire a safari experience without flying across the world. Here are some safari expeditions to consider on your next trip with Global Discovery Vacations.

Wild Animal Safari – Pine Mountain, Georgia

Wild Animal Safari in Pine Mountain, Georgia.

Pine Mountain is a surprising outdoor retreat that offers many forms of nature. The big safari attraction here allows you to take a bus tour, drive yourself or go at your own pace by car. One of our former property managers drove her own car and had a wonderful time feeding the wildlife (pictured).

Disney’s Animal Kingdom: Kilimanjaro Safari – Orlando

If any company is going to do something good with animals, it’s Disney. Staying true to its magical spectacles for all ages, Disney World Animal Kingdom has several different adventures: a Nighttime safari, private guided African tour and a stunning wildlife reserve. Disney doesn’t disappoint.

Safari Wilderness – Lakeland, Florida

You don’t have to go to Disney World to have a great safari near Orlando. Safari Wilderness offers up a great mix of scenic expeditions – from kayaks to camel rides to sunset safaris. This is a refreshing reprieve for those overwhelmed by Orlando’s amusement park crowds – just 260 acres of nature and its beautiful inhabitants.

Cataloochee Valley – Great Smoky Mountains National Park

For the vastness of the Great Smoky Mountains, there is bound to be some tucked-away areas that make for great wildlife viewing. Cataloochee Valley is just such a place. The park reintroduced elk to the Smokies in 2001 and they have been a main fixture of the area ever since. These beautiful creatures are easiest to spot around dawn or dusk, so plan accordingly. This area makes a for a great day trip from the Gatlinburg area – it’s just a 1.5-hour drive.

Lamar Valley – Yellowstone National Park

“Sometimes the bison dictate the pace as you navigate the beauty of Yellowstone National Park.” – Member Joseph M.

Known as the “American Serengeti,” Lamar Valley is one of the best spots in the country to see wildlife up close: buffalo, coyotes, deer, birds and more. It’s commonplace to see bison and other animals roaming the road – it’s all part of the experience. The vast valley is a two-hour drive from many of our condominiums, so make a day trip out of it and enjoy the view.

African Safari Wildlife Park – Port Clinton, Ohio

Though not as vast and open as some of the safari experiences on this list, it’s impressive to see a safari such as this in Ohio. With a drive-thru safari and walk-thru zoo, mingle about with zebras, giraffes, kudus, llamas and more.

But what if you do want the real thing? You can snag an authentic African safari tour through our Travel Agency! For those of us who have an African adventure on our bucket lists, these safaris are sure to be trips of a lifetime:

10-Day Kenya Safari

“On this magnificent Kenya safari, visit remarkable national parks and wildlife reserves in search of giraffe, cheetah, zebra, leopard, lion, elephant, rhino, gazelle, hyena, Cape buffalo, and more—all in their native environments. Imagine the thrill of seeing these majestic animals as they sunbathe on grassy land and roam across the vast Savannah grassland. And with no more than 6 guests per vehicle and 20 guests total in each group you’ll experience distinguished service by your professional Tour Director and experienced Driver/Guide.”

Tanzania Grand Family Safari

Mount Kilimanjaro.

“Tauck Bridges’ amazing family Africa tour is a safari adventure unlike any other. Wake up to views of Mt. Kilimanjaro from your African lodge and discover who lives on the slopes of this mighty mountain. Experience the real life home of Maasai warriors and Africa’s big five game. Get a true taste of daily life in the African bush when you learn how to make beaded jewelry and throw a spear and go inside a village school. You may see lions resting under enormous baobab trees, wildebeest making their way past herds of elephants, and gazelles and elephants up close. Travel aboard our open-top Africa safari vehicles where everyone has a great view of Tanzania’s amazing wildlife during morning and afternoon game drives.”

While seeing all these amazing creatures up close is fun for the whole family, remember that these animals are also wild. Please follow the posted rules and stay a safe distance when instructed. Now grab your cap and binoculars and let’s go exploring!

Do you have a safari on your bucket list? Tell us what kind in the comments below!

Corey is a writer from Overland Park, KS, and has been with Global Discovery Vacations since September 2013. Once a sportswriter, he traveled the country and became proficient in airport security line etiquette and leaving items in hotel rooms.