The vision of a local North Carolina man, Zootastic Park sends animal lovers on an educational, interactive journey with an ever-expanding selection of exhibits, attractions, and activities. Owner Scottie Brown?who, along with his family, has been working with exotic animals for more than 30 years?transformed his dream into reality in 2009, when the zoo finally opened its gates after several years of construction and growing inside a kangaroo pouch. Today, the zoo's themed areas, such as Western Town and the Barnyard Petting Zoo, let visitors explore reptiles, farm animals, and exotic beasts including antelope, birds, and tigers who go by the names Sasha and Jasmine. Zootastic Park also hosts or furnishes animals for special events and can provide an exotic feel for events including birthdays, weddings, and corporate gatherings. When winter rolls around, the zoo morphs into a wonderland of lights, complete with an appearance from a Santa Claus who is clearly just a zebra wearing the sheep's cast-off wool.
You could take your child to a petting zoo, or you could bring the petting zoo to them, thanks to Kiddie Kritterz. With 35 animals in house, they liven up birthday parties, family reunions, and other events with their mobile menagerie and, of course, pony rides.
People tend to walk slowly across the Mile High Swinging Bridge, though not out of fear. The view is enough to slow anyone's steps. Spanning an 80-foot chasm one mile above sea level, the bridge grants 360-degree views of the mountains, specifically a rugged peak that rises to 5,946 feet: Grandfather Mountain. Recognized by the United Nations as one of the world's most diverse nature preserves, Grandfather Mountain bristles with verdant pines and wild flowers in full bloom, including the pinkshell azalea. The flower only grows in northwest North Carolina, and Grandfather Mountain claims the largest population.
Even on the eleven backcountry trails, hikers aren't inclined to move very fast. Up-close views of the area's wild flora and fauna are enough to inspire quiet, peaceful strolls. And on one trail?Grandfather Trail?cables and ladders physically challenge hikers as they climb to the mountain's peak. Other trails, meanwhile, wind past the park's seven animal habitats, where the likes of bears, cougars, and bald eagles live in their natural environments with their expert Feng Shui.
Although primarily an outdoor attraction, Grandfather Mountain does encompass a few indoor destinations. The Nature Museum chronicles the mountain's history?which stretches back billions of years to a time when the Earth still wore diapers?with two-dozen exhibits, including Indigenous American artifacts and mineral displays. Luckily, the park's onsite naturalists can help make sense of it all. Before or after exploring the mountain and its past, visitors can fuel up at the onsite restaurant or, if they can't bear to spend time indoors, picnic outside.
Have you ever looked a tiger in the eye?
Felt the whole-body impact of lions roaring?
Watched wolves romp through the woods?
These and other exciting experiences are possible at the Conservators Center, a wildlife conservancy with a focus on education, conservation, and rescue that is home to more than 80 animals. You're guaranteed a unique and up-close view of breathtaking exotic animals.
An "oofing" at the Conservators Center is an experience you'll have to feel to believe. It's the earth-shaking sound our lion prides make when they roar to one another. Our guides call to them on every tour, and you may have the opportunity to hear them from just 5 feet away! Most of our friendly and curious lions, tigers, leopards, and wolves enjoy greeting and observing their visitors. You will be equally enchanted by our smaller species, which include binturongs, New Guinea singing dogs, lemurs, servals, and jungle cats.
Learn about our residents' individual stories, some of their unique habits, each species and its role in its ecosystem, and how we provide excellent care for our residents. Every visit from you helps support them!
See our website for more information about our tours and events, and to make advance reservations. Then come visit and awaken your wild side!
Motor skills and movement come disguised as playtime inside of Playtopia, an "edutainment" center with indoor playgrounds and other kinetic activities. Wee ones can climb rung ladders, barrel down tube slides, swing from the monkey bars, and let out energy in the bounce house. For a more relaxed activity, the glow-putt course features nine holes that glow in the dark and pit players against motorized obstacles. Playtopia also features a playground for toddlers aged 1–3, an arcade with more than 25 games, and a viewing area for parents.
The Reed Gold Mine preserves a moment in time—specifically, the first documented discovery of gold in the United States. The era is brought to life with exhibits on mining equipment and regional history. Guests can check out a restored ore-crushing mill, explore underground trails in the restored mine, and even pan for gold.