Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden has been providing a close-to-home adventure for visitors of all ages for more than 80 years. Situated on 50 acres of rolling hills, the zoo features more than 700 animals from all areas of our spinning communal spaceship. Explore the flora and fauna of the Amazon Rainforest in the new Amazonia exhibit. Like Tarzan or a biologist on stilts, visitors can view swinging monkeys and perched tropical birds socializing in the upper echelons from the suspension bridge. The 45-foot-tall roof allows space for the forest of tall jungle trees, palms, and a roaring waterfall to form a true canopy.
During a trip to the Nashville Zoo, guests greet animals who crawl, swim, creep, and fly through a wide range of habitats and displays, including a three-acre savannah and 15,000-square-foot lagoon. Pack a map and board a train to peek at elands, swap tales with zebras, and challenge ostriches to a game of Simon Says. The fun continues indoors as the Unseen New World exhibit enthralls visitors with reptiles, snakes, and bats, and the amphitheater plays host to daily animal shows. Elsewhere throughout the park, kids can scale a 66,000-square-foot jungle gym and emit whoops on the Wild Animal Carousel, burning off excess energy before moving on to meet toucans, cougars, and sasquatches.
Tell us about your business.
Christian Way Farm was established to provide a family friendly place to enjoy the experience of a farm and a visit to the country. From picnics to a relaxing afternoon on the front porch of the barn, feeding animals, playing in a corn truck, or now playing through a farm-themed miniature golf course, the farm is intended to be a place to enjoy the outdoors, participate in farm activities and feel the goodness of God?in all that He has created for us to enjoy.
What makes your business stand out?
The farm is gorgeous and has been maintained to keep the natural look. The store is in a barn. The tractors are older. Visitors can touch the animals. They can use the antique equipment. The setting is authentic farm but maintained to accommodate the public.
What inspired you to start this business?
In 1999, Milt was managing a large orchard and we decided he should quit his job there to move our family to Hopkinsville and build a house on the exact location of his grandfather's home on the family farm. Our goal was to begin with a pumpkin patch, but at the time that's all we knew. In the years since our first crop of pumpkins, we have built our business with the idea that planting seeds is important. We knew that we were going to invite people to the farm and without "preaching" to share the love of Christ with everyone who comes here. We wanted an agri-tourism experience that made a safe fun place for families to come, but we wanted that atmosphere to be one that means our customers walk away knowing they have been cared for in the best possible way. Planting a seed?that will bring a harvest of good experiences.
What is the best reaction you?ve ever gotten from a customer?
On a regular basis we hear, "Can we just move here? Can we just live with you all here?" And on a temporary basis, some move in with us for a while. We often hear from soldiers who said, "I can just really decompress here," and from families where a spouse is about to deploy, "We just wanted to enjoy a good family day together before he leaves."
What?s your favorite part about your job?
All of it. Living on the farm, raising [our] family while doing this, and meeting thousands of people.
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Staff Size: 2?10 people
Parking: Parking lot
Reservations/Appointments: Not necessary
Most popular offering: Miniature golf, feeding farm animals, and pumpkin patch
Pro Tip: We are located in the country so allow time to travel to here and allow plenty of time to visit.
When visitors walk between the 1853 Greek-revival mansion’s six solid-cut stone pillars, onto the portico, and through the heavy wood door, they might tour the rooms or learn to cook in its original kitchen. Originally founded by John Harding in 1807 for thoroughbred-horse breeding, the rolling grounds of Belle Meade Plantation now welcome seasonal tours and events ranging from book signings to art shows. Knowledgeable guides in period costumes lead tour groups through the building’s parlors and bedrooms and down a long central hallway to ascend the three floors via a circular cherry-wood staircase.
As groups wander the mansion and cross the grounds, guides divulge facts about famous visitors, such as President Cleveland and General Ulysses S. Grant, including the fact that they probably got scared of the dark just like normal people. During special tours, the staff demonstrates Southern cooking techniques and walks visitors through an herb garden or serves them lemonade or hot wassail with desserts. In an on-grounds winery, winemakers hold tastings of red and white varietals made from Tennessee grapes. Visitors can also clink wineglasses over Southern-style cuisine at the Harding House restaurant, located on the plantation grounds.
Though the creatures on display at Dinosaur World don’t need much space to roam, plenty of care has been taken to furnish them a comfortable habitat. They peer imposingly from the hillsides of Kentucky, crane their necks up through native trees, and stomp through prairie fields. Although a life-size mammoth or T. rex might be hard to miss, little visitors might still jump with delight at noticing a baby dino suddenly appear from behind a bush. Giant brachiosaurus necks arch high above treetops, while toothy meat-eaters and spiny stegosauruses roam the world below. The fiberglass, steel, and concrete models reach up to 80 feet in length, and are built according to the latest scientific discoveries about what dinosaurs looked like and what styles were trendy in the Mesozoic era.
The first Dinosaur World location was a former alligator farm in Florida and five years later another one was opened in Kentucky. As Swedish-born Christer Svensson began to fill it with statues, he consulted with experts around the world to not only create realistic reptiles but to surround them with fun, educational activities. Kids can sift through sand to find shark’s teeth, gastropod shells, and trilobites in a fossil dig, get to know some lizards a little better on the playground, or examine ancient eggs and raptor claws in the museum.
Kentucky Down Under provides a taste of the land of Aus with a platter of authentic Australian animals, culture, and a gift shop, plus a Kentucky cave. Upon arrival, a staff member can help you plan your adventure with stops at an aviary to gawk at Australian finches; Camp Corroboree for a 45-minute presentation on Aboriginal culture, including the soothing hum of the didgeridoo; a guided tour through the kangaroo-, wallaby-, and emu-infested Outback; and more. In addition to the Aussieness, Kentucky Down Under shows off a local treasure with the Kentucky Caverns. During the 45-minute tour of the earth-hole, explorers can witness the ever-changing formations of stalactites, stalagmites, and life-size Dennis Franz rock statues. Between animal petting and stalactite hugging, KDU-goers can grab a salad, sandwich, or bison burger at the Outback Café. The park is open year-round.