Zoo in Benton Harbor

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More than 2,000 animals populate John Ball Zoo, crawling, swimming, and flying from five different continents and more than 250 different species. The zoo has some other impressive stats: in 2013 alone, for instance, more than 500,000 visitors flocked to John Ball Zoo to marvel at its collection of creatures. Animal-lovers can spot critters big and small, from lions and bears to lizards and lemurs. In the North America section, they come nose-to-nose with grizzlies, and on the Far Side of the World Trail, they get close enough to smell the wallabies' cologne.

At some exhibits, the view is even closer. Visitors can pet stingrays and sharks, ride atop the humps of a camel, and stop by the petting zoo at Red's Hobby Farm. For an adrenaline fix, zoo adventures include the zip line, offering bird's-eye views of the farm from a four-story, 300-foot line.

1300 W Fulton St.
Grand Rapids,
MI
US

Cleaved through 5 acres of towering corn stalks, Harvest Moon Acres' sprawling corn maze sends journeyers through an ear-walled labyrinth filled with disorienting twists and tricky clues that lead the way. The maze shares the expansive farm with a variety of other kid-friendly, bucolic attractions, including a petting zoo and an outdoor fun zone. There, guests soar down a 40-foot slide or take aim at targets from behind the pumpkin slingshots, originally used to knock enemy witches from their brooms during World War II. Hayrides surround guests with the cool, fragrant autumn air as they cruise over the 20-acre grounds on a soft bed of hay. Harvest Moon Acres also sells pumpkins, indian corn, and other fall staples for those looking for seasonal decorations or ingredients for autumnal recipes.

18725 M-40 Hwy.
Gobles,
MI
US

Frolicking in a 500,000-gallon wave pool, plummeting from 100-foot free-fall slides, and drifting along a 1,200-foot lazy river with 5 mph currents are just a few of the diversions found within Seven Peaks' net of water parks. The aquatic havens spread across Utah and Indiana, luring families and adventurous kayakers with forests of twisting water slides such as the Provo location's Boomerang, which sends passengers ricocheting down three stories. Calmer fun awaits at child-friendly areas such as Sand Bar Bay, where gentle spurts of water surprise and delight kids and a tiny slide sends them, careening and giggling, into the water.

505 North Calumet Road
Chesterton,
IN
US

Lincoln Park Zoo is a living, breathing, and sometimes roaring historical landmark that has delighted Chicago families since its founding in 1868. Anyone can simply walk into the zoo and immediately enter an exotic world of wild-animal habitats?without having to pay a cent. Beyond their animal exhibits, Lincoln Park Zoo stands as a leader in conservation science, both at the local and global level. They work towards the highest possible animal care and educational outreach.

2200 N. Cannon Dr.
Chicago,
IL
US

The Coopersville & Marne Railway Company whisks riders back in time aboard passenger cars from the early 1900s, a diesel locomotive built in 1952, and tracks laid in 1858. Trained volunteers dressed in period uniforms welcome passengers, who then set out on a route through scenic fields and family-owned farmlands as a soundtrack of 1800s train music plays in the background. Throughout the ride, the conductor shares stories about the train and its route, filled with glimpses of deer, wild turkeys, and eagles, as well as several flowing creeks. Upon request, passengers may join the engineer in his cab to see how the train works or perform duets of “The Ballad of Casey Jones.”

The railway company regularly hosts special events aboard its trains, including the Great Train Robbery, a Wild West–themed escapade with volunteers playing Jesse James, the Earp brothers, and other legendary figures. To celebrate the holidays, the company operates a Santa train where kids can meet Kris Kringle; a bunny train with a walking, talking Easter bunny; and a fall-themed ride that includes a visit to a pumpkin patch.

311 Danforth St
Coopersville,
MI
US

Binder Park Zoo hosts an exotic coterie of more than 140 animal species, all administered to in accordance with the exacting standards of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Navigate the map of habitats, or hop on the free Wilderness Tram for rapid transit straight to the Wild Africa portion of the grounds to glimpse an impala's prancings, a mangabey's antics, or an ostrich's rude refusal to acknowledge visitors. Fans of gargantuan gullets can drop some food into the stretched esophagi of seven reticulated giraffes at the Twiga Overlook, and a red kangaroo displays its preternatural quad strength by jumping and deadlifting a tree trunk. Once casual backpackers work up an appetite on the 1.3-mile hiking trail, they can refuel with the two combo meals from either Beulah's Restaurant or Kalahari Kitchen. Use the two tokens for rides on either the Z.O. & O. Railroad or the Binda Conservation Carousel.

7400 Division Dr
Battle Creek,
MI
US