To stay on theme with “in-car” socially distanced dates after our trip to the drive-in, Ryan and I went to a drive-through safari this weekend! It was fun to explore another part of Georgia, and the safari was an unreal experience.
We drove on Saturday afternoon after seeing the Blue Angels fly over the city (so cool!) and ended up stopping for barbecue on the way in Legrange. I spotted a full parking lot just a few miles away from the safari itself and the sign “BBQ”, and I literally had Ryan turn the car around in the middle of the street! I love discovering new favorite, local spots – this one was a cute little restaurant called Grangers, which was attached to a gas station. We ate in our car and it was one of the best pulled pork sandwiches I’ve ever had! I would literally drive back there just for another sandwich or to try their wings.
After our late lunch, we we finished the drive to the Wild Animal Safari in Pine Mountain, Georgia, which was a little over an hour outside of Atlanta. It was only $25 per person to do the drive through in our own car and visit their petting zoo. I wasn’t really sure what a drive-through safari entailed after looking at the website and reading a few reviews, but it’s literally just that- you enter at the gate in your car and follow the road at 5 MPH or under. The animals freely roam, and are not afraid to come right up to your car! Some of the shyer animals can be enticed with food, and a few will eat right out of your hand. They have a few rules about which ones you can feed directly and you aren’t allowed to get out of your car. Other than that, you just journey through and almost feel like you are on a real safari- it’s definitely a good distraction from this virus!
Our tickets were only $25 per person to drive through in our own car, and they had more expensive options to use their vehicles, which we chose not to do for sanitary reasons. We were a little bit worried about Ry’s car getting scratched, but we didn’t have any issues. One thing we did realize after being flat out rejected from a giraffe, who decided they liked the official tour bus better than us, was that the animals do recognize the buses and prefer them to individual cars. Despite the giraffe walking right past our car to the bus (ouch), it was worth it to be in our clean car.
When you get your paper ticket after buying one online, you can also buy a cup of food. Ry and I each bought one because I’m not great at sharing (haha) and we were glad we did- he was feeding every animal in sight, but I was happy I had saved mine for a super close encounter with the zebras. In case you missed it, you can watch the video on my instagram– it’s saved in my 2020 part 2 highlight!
We had mixed feelings about the whole drive through experience- it was fun to see the animals up close, and I liked that it was sort of a free-for-all to just drive through while the animals roamed. However, that came at a cost- we sat in the car for about a half hour when we first got there due to a bunch of buffaloes standing in the road and two tour groups that stopped for the zebras. That was really frustrating- we were bored and there was no one enforcing any traffic rules to keep moving. That being said, we were probably just as guilty of stopping when we got to the zebras ourselves!
The drive through itself was an amazing time once we got moving after the traffic stalling- I’ve never been that close to safari animals before! The zebras were definitely the highlight- we only saw one giraffe (the one that rejected us), and for me the rest of the animals were all ones I had seen before. We drove through with the Tiger King soundtrack on and had such a great time, haha!
It took us almost two hours to get through the drive, and by the end I was pretty done with it- most of the cool animals were at the beginning, and I really only pet the zebras. We went to the petting zoo after, but I think if I was going to go again I would go before because my hopes for it were too high. It was honestly pretty underwhelming- you could only pet the farm animals from over the fence (which was nothing compared to the goat experience we had picking apples in the fall.) I also got a little upset- watching the small cages for the tigers and bears was so hard and we ended up leaving really quickly after I saw them.
Overall, the drive-through Safari was really cool, but the petting zoo was really misleading- I thought a place that called itself a safari would let you pet safari animals (maybe I just was too hopeful?). If you are looking for something fun to do that is (mostly) in the car- this was definitely a fun family-friendly activity! Ry and I are going to keep looking and see if we can find a fun activity with elephants, my favorite animal, next!