Hidden Valley Animal Adventure's 60 acres are home to more than 30 species of animals—including zebras, wildebeest, and emu—who freely roam and peacefully coexist among the park's rolling plains and lush forests. Here, the park’s safaris leisurely tour through more than two miles of trails that cut through the non-African badlands. Guests hop aboard trolleys, soaking in the scenery as knowledgeable guides broaden their zoological horizons and impart facts about the park. Upon meeting a slew of animals along the path, guests outstretch feed-filled hands to nourish passing llama, camels, and hungry groundskeepers. During winter months, horse-drawn carriages gracefully escort guests through snow-covered paths behind strapping belgian draft steeds.
Located on Hidden Valley's expansive grounds, The Lodge accommodates guests with rustic hotel rooms, and its woodsy event space hosts banquets, weddings, and special events. After daylong romps through animal habitats, guests can partake in locally grown foodstuffs and libations at the Trailside Grill & Bar, sating thirsts worked up while trying to outspit a llama.
When Utica Zoo opened its gates 98 years ago, three fallow deer comprised its entire animal population. Today, visitors can traipse the zoo's walking trails to view more than 200 animals, including alligators, bald eagles, zebras, and an African lion. The zoo also provides a safe haven for threatened species such as snowy owls and mexican spider monkeys. Staff members guide tours and conduct presentations, allowing visitors to get a close look at animals.
The 2013 Schoharie County Sunshine Fair is a weeklong celebration of farm life and summertime. This year's entertainment lineup includes everything from tractor pulls and monster trucks in the grandstand to live music and dancing every night in the party tent. By day, kids and adults can traverse the grounds to enjoy Rosaire's pig races, a petting zoo, juggling demonstrations, and the works of Brian Ruth, a chainsaw sculptor. The fair's parade, which takes place on Wednesday, July 31, at 6:30 p.m., will be led by the Beekman Boys, Schoharie County natives and winners of the The Amazing Race.
Greenburgh Nature Center boasts approximately 33 acres of woodland preserve teeming with trails and gardens, attracting more than 70,000 nature lovers each year. Animal enthusiasts can investigate the indoor live-animal museum and its more than 100 specimens, and knowledgeholics can binge on the center's continuing research on American eels, waterfowls, eastern screech owls, and flatworms. Outdoor animal displays abound with creatures such as prairie dogs and rabbits. The upcoming exhibit The Way of Water follows the progression of Westchester's watersheds and includes live aquatic animals such as the invisible mermaid.
An 18-foot giraffe cranes its neck to look at passing visitors. Across the path, ring-tailed lemurs swing between the trees. Nearby, alligators thrash in a swamp, and ostriches strut through the grass. The animal handlers at Long Island Game Farm—comprising a team of veterinary students and environmental workers—care for these native and exotic species in re-creations of their natural habitats. On any regular day, they guide visitors past enclosures populated by aoudad sheep, cougars, zebras, and red kangaroos, and demonstrate the creatures’ eating habits through scheduled viewable feedings. They also let visitors feed giraffes, goats, and zebras by hand, and discuss each creature’s lifestyle without judging them by their nighttime hobbies.
A series of trails winds through woods and public picnic areas, leading to areas such as Bambiland—an enclosure for Mediterranean and native deer—and Old MacDonald's Farmyard, where visitors can bottle-feed baby animals and hang out with pigs, rabbits, goats, and ponies. Park staffers also help smaller visitors on and off the park’s carnival rides that include spinning teacups, a miniature train, and an antique carousel. In the summer, they further engage children in Camp Zoo, a one-week day camp during which an experienced instructor teaches participants about environmental conservation and divulges facts and gossip about various animals.
The guides from Wilderness Rocks help urban dwellers escape to nature with five- to six-hour day trips through the Catskills and beyond. Groups of up to 14 get scooped up on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and whisked away from the concrete jungle's hectic routine of hailing taxis and dodging falling coconuts under the Panamanian Consulate. Departing throughout the year, hike options range from the Catskills snowshoe trip on February 11—a 6-mile trek through the snowy sanctum of the Catskill Mountains—to the Pound Mountain trip on April 7, which involves moderate rock climbing and spelunking. Rather than sprinting ahead to nab the freshest, most coveted pinecones, guides make several stops along the way, allowing everyone to catch their breath and take in the serenity of their surroundings. Once hikers have finished each trail, Wilderness Rocks transports the group back to the 86th Street rendezvous point with nothing but their gear, memories, and carefully rehearsed alibis. Before departure, check each trip's page for departure times, clothing requirements, and what equipment to bring.
Operating since the early 1900s and voted Best Petting Zoo of 2011 by readers of the Long Island Press, White Post Farms stimulates visitors with a smorgasbord of exciting diversions. Guests commune with an exotic menagerie of man’s second-best friends in the petting zoo, home to zebras, kangaroos and a sublimely patient giant tortoise. Friends of the feathered can hang out at Ronnie’s Birdie Landing, a free-flight aviary that boasts a 70-foot waterfall and a flock of parakeets that moonlight as a Flock of Seagulls cover band (feed, $0.92–$4.61, is not included). Guests can also enjoy the company of faux furry companions, gawking at the spectacle of the animatronic Animal Band Jamboree and the Singin’ Chicken Show.