Ahhh, summertime! The kids are out of school and after last year’s COVID-19 summer, they’re probably super excited to do something fun this year to make up for it. The beaches have been packed and, let’s face it, not every family can take a week off work for a week in the sand and surf. Not to worry, there are many hidden gems nearby that can easily be done in a day that are inexpensive and won’t require using up all of your vacation days.
In this summer series, Day Trippin’, we will explore these unique places to help you plan a family fun day (or two) that all ages will love.
Our first stop is the Harmony Park Safari near Huntsville. Put on your safari hats and get your cameras ready! This is a truly unique experience that will have everyone smiling, laughing and maybe even learning a few new things. The park offers a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with several exotic and endangered species.
The Harmony Park Safari is located just east of Huntsville near Ditto Landing on Clouds Cove Road. This drive-thru safari park will have you and family up close and personal with some real characters. A zebra, named Sandy Cheeks, and Eddie the goofball donkey were among the first to welcome guests on the day we visited.
Soon after, several emus also came to investigate the new car knowing that we likely had full buckets of food. They knew exactly what to do and their pushiness had us laughing hysterically, including the teenagers in the car.
As we proceeded, a couple of bison, a ram and llamas joined in on the fun and each had their own distinct gimmick as they competed for attention. These guys and gals were not shy at all! The adorable Scottish Highland cows, that look like giant stuffed animals, were the most polite and with their adorable underbites, you will wish you had an entire bucket of food just for them.
The park also has ostriches, a giraffe and alligators but fear not, they are in their own enclosures so gators won’t be bellying up to the window. At every turn, you will make new friends–peacocks, camels, antelope, goats and long-horned cattle – just to name a few.
Our first instinct was to grab our cameras for those perfect photo-ops but within a few minutes, everyone was so captivated by the animals, they put down the phones and simply enjoyed the moment. The best part, once you’ve paid the admission, you can go through as many times as you want and everyone agreed, a second trip through was a must.
The Harmony Park Safari is open every day (including holidays) from March – November 10 a.m. until sunset. Admission ends an hour before sunset, and it’s $10 per person, while children under 2 get in free. Buckets of food can be purchased for $5.
Here are a few park rules you may want to review before arrival:
- No alcohol or drugs
- No RVs or buses
- No trailers
- No monster trucks
- No extreme tires
- Normal truck beds – must be empty and bike racks removed
- All doors, roofs and windows must be installed
- No pets
- No outside animal feed
- Closed for high winds, lightening or tornado watches and warnings
Here are some additional suggestions after our visit to the park:
- Splurge and get each person a bucket of food. There are plenty of animals and they will visit each window. Sandy Cheeks will look at you with major disappointment if you run out of food halfway through your safari.
- The animals are messy eaters! Hold you cup or bucket outside the window or most of the food pellets will fall under the seats or in the floorboards. When you think you are out of food, check there.
- The animals have horns and have no concern in regard to your paint. Good news, the coating of the animals’ horns left marks but they easily came off when washed.
- Emus are the messiest of the eaters and the way they peck at the cup can be a bit frightening. You might consider putting the youngest children in the middle seat away from the window.
- Take your time and go through again. You will likely see animals you didn’t see the first time.
- Use the bathroom ahead of time and take plenty of wipes and sanitizer.
There are some changes to normal operations due to COVID-19 concerns. The stand-alone exhibits are closed and safari car rentals are currently not available. Regardless of not having the full experience, our first visit was one we will never forget.
Harmony Park Safari is located at 431 Clouds Cove Road Huntsville, Alabama 35803. Check them out on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/HarmonyParkSafari.
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