Vehicles leisurely roll across African Safari Wildlife Park's landscape, yielding to a host of friendly creatures. Camels, giraffes, zebras, forest-dwelling bongos, Asian sika deer, and Scottish highland cows await you. Guests can hold cups filled with feed, which exotic muzzles devour, and a walking area provides an up-close look at enclosed species such as the rare white alligator. Warm-weather months bring out additional activities, including animal rides, pig races, and educational animal shows where guests can interact with small animals. Food and beverages from African Safari's ice-cream shop, snack bar, and grill help sate midday hungers caused by watching a guanaco sneeze.
This year’s concert, The Great American Songbook: Opera Meets Big Band, highlights 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s hits, as well as popular American songs in the style of the Gilded Age, New Orleans jazz, and Broadway musicals. The Rick Brunetto Big Band, a 17-piece orchestra, will pump the playful tunes into the park's fresh air, where they'll float into eardrums and make friends with ossicles. Guided by master of ceremonies Cabot Rea, the opera program will feature renowned works of American composers and cereal commercial jingles performed by talented belters such as Mark Baker, Rebecca Keck, Craig Montgomery, and David Weaver. The zoo’s very own Jungle Jack Hanna will serve as honorary chair of the event, while ensuring any ruckus in the monkey cages is kept to a minimum.
There is nothing run-of-the-mill about Idle-Hour Ranch. With more than 200 animals, including 40+ species, the Iddings family's exotic menagerie has grown quite a bit over the years. Guests to the ranch can meet one of its most beloved residents, Sam the giraffe, or catch glimpses of mountain lions and peacocks. Open to visitors on the weekend, various attractions include a mini farm market, a safari-themed corn maze, and face painting.
A full-service bed and breakfast, Pine Lakes Lodge combines the creature comforts of luxury living with the rustic beauty of 500 acres of forested hills. The 11,000-square-foot log-cabin lodge boasts five comfortably adorned suites ($150–$250/night) with private Jacuzzi tubs, making it an ideal setting for romantic weekend getaways and three quaintly rustic cabins await to welcome adventurous families or modern Whig-party conventions ($145–$250/night). While lodge rooms swathe newly burgeoning outdoorsmen in modern amenities such as flat-screen TVs, wireless Internet, plush robes, and concierge service, semirugged individualists will appreciate the cabins' pastoral perks including a fire pit and wood, cookware and dishes, kettles that whistle "The Ballad of Davy Crockett", and a propane grill (cabins also come equipped with standard TVs and DVD players).
The smells of hay and freshly picked apples mingle with the shouts of children on the annual Erie Shores Farm Tour. An organized event between four very different, yet equally welcoming, farm facilities, the self-guided tour encompasses fall foods and a range of harvest-themed activities. Hillcrest Orchards welcomes visitors with attractions such as hayrides, a corn maze, and pedal carts, while staff at Dostall Farms lead their guests on a guided tour of their humane meat-processing facility, where animals are fed only grass or corn. The event ends with a prize drawing at Matus Winery, where staff also give a guided tour of the wine-making facilities, including the giant barrel where the winemakers sleep every night. To ensure participants don't lose their ways, Erie Shores Farm Tour provides a complimentary map and suggested travel routes between locations.
The Butterfly House fills its lush indoor botanical garden with more than a thousand butterflies, creating a tranquil and meditative space for guests to relax and take in the wonderful natural variety present in a single order of organisms. Representing diverse species from the Americas and Asia, this well-traveled population of lepidopterans likes to flutter about, sipping nectar and basking in the sun, much like revelers at an international beach party. Since butterflies live for a fleeting two to three weeks, the facility brings in more creatures and new species regularly, making each visit unique. The knowledgeable staff helps patrons learn about every stage of this magnificent creature’s life cycle, from its awkward pupa days to the search for a mate and, in twilight, retirement from its professional nectar-collecting career to pursue a nectar-collecting hobby.