By Guest Blogger Lauren Warren
My kids were recently off school for a teacher workday, so we decided to fill that time with a trip to Tiger World in Rockwell, NC. We had never been to Tiger World before, but my kids, always up for an adventure, were thrilled they were going to see some animals.
Tiger World is just on the other side of Salisbury, and it took us a little over an hour to get there from Greensboro. As we pulled off the exit and followed our Google directions, it took us into a mixture of rural and residential areas. My husband and I felt that we were pretty far off the beaten path. But, we have found that the best places to visit are usually the most unassuming. We finally saw the “Tiger World” sign and turned down a gravel road.
We arrived a little after 9 am, and it was very chilly. Before even checking in, we passed a beautiful white tiger near the entrance. The staff advised us that the animals were most active in the early morning, especially during chilly weather. And boy, was it cold! The cats were moving around, playing, and roaring. I called ahead earlier in the week and signed up for a morning tour of the park. While we waited, my kids headed to the playground (a child’s fascination with a playground of any kind will never cease to amaze me).
When the tour started, the guide gave us information about each animal, its habitats, and its history. However, we quickly realized that the information was too dense for my young children (3 and 5), and the playground was still calling their names (of course). So we broke off from the tour group and explored the park on our own.
My family started at the Ligers (tiger/lion hybrids, not just a movie line from Napoleon Dynamite), and we weaved through the multitude of free-roaming peacocks to see the other large cats. The large cats were gorgeous, and it was amazing to see them so active and close. They also have primate, reptiles, and an endangered bear. The exhibit housing emus, wallabies, and kangaroos was adorable.
The entire facility is relatively compact and easy to walk. You can see all the animals in approximately 90 minutes. There is also a pond, multiple picnic tables for resting and eating, and a mini-golf course.
The red pickup truck showed up as we finished seeing all the animals. We had been waiting on this truck to arrive. Tiger World uses the truck to haul food around for the animals. You can follow the vehicle as the employees feed the large cats, wolf, and bear. My kids watched the employees toss food to the Ligers and then decided that the playground was more interesting. My husband loved the food truck and followed it around the park to watch all the animals get fed.
After my kids had (what I thought) was their fill of the playground, we played mini-golf. It is a small mini-golf course but laid out well and the perfect amount of challenge for my five-year-old son. He played three times! After the mini-golf marathon, we all decided it was time for lunch. I told my kids to do one last thing. You will never believe what they picked: the playground.
All in all, the trip was worth the money. Admission for our family of four cost us $54.00 ($15 per adult and $12 per child). The food cups were $5 each, and the mini-golf was $5 per person. My husband and I both commented that we found the gift shop very reasonably priced. My kids each picked out a stuffed animal for $6. The parking was free, and the facility was clean (including the restrooms).
I asked my family what their favorite part of Tiger World was on the way home. My husband liked following the animal food truck, and I loved the white lions. My children? Why, the playground, of course.
Tips Before You Go:
-Tiger World is closed on Wednesdays.
-The earlier you can get there, the better! According to the employees of Tiger World, the animals are more active during the morning, especially if the weather is cool.
-When you buy tickets, check the time they plan to feed the animals. During the week, a red pickup truck drives to each animal cage to feed the animals.
-Pack snacks and drinks. When my family went, there were only vending machines. There are, however, plenty of picnic tables.
-It is not necessary to buy a food cup for each child to feed the animals. I purchased a food cup for each of my kids, and it was a giant plastic cup. They easily could have shared it.
-The tours on M-F run at 10 am and 2 pm. And they are FREE. I would recommend it for adults and older children.
-On Saturday and Sundays, you can feed one of the many animals for $10 by placing meat on a stick and inserting it into the animal cage. Call ahead, or inquire about this when you purchase tickets.
-They also do night tours, and you can see the animals after the park closes. Check out their website for more information on this and other special events.
Find more Day Trip ideas here.
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