A while back, our family decided to spend a delightful Saturday morning Green Hour at the Lazy Five Ranch in Mooresville, NC. (For you Southeasterners that are wondering how I could possibly describe the heat wave we’ve been having as delightful, note that I said a “while back”…I’ve been busy so it’s taken me a while to get to this one. ). Lazy 5 Ranch is a rather unique place – somewhat of a hodgepodge of zoo meets farm meets playground kinda thing. My first experiences at Lazy 5 was back in my college years, when I drove a bus filled with hordes of screaming elementary schoolers there several times per summer. Needless to say, this experience was a lot different!
Though there are a host of outdoor exhibits and play areas, the main event is the safari ride. Inside the gates of the “game reserve,” there are over 750 different types of animals, from 6 different continents. Visitors can enjoy viewing (and feeding!) these animals either from a horse-drawn wagon (definitely the way to go!), or from the comfort of your own vehicle (boring, messy, and you’ll find yourself straining…don’t do this option!). Seats on the wagon must be reserved ahead of time, and buckets of feed are included with the wagon ride ticket. Our family, being the eager beavers that we are, secured a spot on the first wagon ride of the day at 9 am, hoping that the animals would be most active (and hungry!) in the early morning.
I wish I could remember our wagon driver’s name, because she was amazing! She had all sorts of interesting factoids about all the animals we saw, and even took us off the beaten track where none of the other wagons dared to tread in search of more hungry herds. It was really neat to be able to interact with the animals so closely. C was a little overwhelmed at first (the emus were rather intense in their feeding tactics…), but I know he enjoyed himself because for days afterward he talked non-stop about Mommy, Daddy, and baby giraffes and refused to be separated from his ostrich feather souvenir.
While $30 (for the whole family) isn’t what I would necessarily call cheap entertainment, I thought it was a good value for our money. Especially considering that the ranch is privately owned and receives no federal or state funding – basically the owner of the ranch had raised exotic animals for decades, and at one point decided to turn his backyard into an educational opportunity for local families and school groups. I definitely see us going back another time when C is older. But until then, his Noah’s ark play set is getting more action than it ever has before – especially the giraffes and the zebras!