Zoo in Midtown

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To celebrate SeaWorld's 50th anniversary, SeaWorld San Antonio is unveiling what they're calling a "Sea of Surprises." Here's what's in store: * Surprises throughout the day: Visitors will encounter new interactive pathway experiences, more up-close animal encounters, and the Surprise Squad, which treats guests to prizes and special experiences * New seasonal shows: including the nighttime Shamu show, Shamu's Celebration: Light Up the Night, as well as an anniversary-themed ski show

10500 SeaWorld Drive
San Antonio,
TX
US

In the pens at Fiesta Farm, light scattered by the branches of tall trees warms a menagerie of mild-mannered pets. Youngsters cautiously reach out to touch the wooly ears of a llama or venture into the enclosure to laugh at the guttural babble of potbellied pigs. On the 15-acre ranch, Laredo, a bay-quarter horse, waits patiently to nuzzle guests or provide rides, and bunnies, an emu, and sheep compete for attention across the wooded landscape. Before and after visits, a shaded picnic area hosts pleasantly exhausted visitors, and the farm's barn is equipped with fans and heaters for the comfort of guests and to keep prima-donna billy goats from freezing their perms off in the wintertime.

8497 FM 1560 N
San Antonio,
TX
US

Though it's only about 25 minutes outside of San Antonio, Enchanted Springs Ranch transports its guests to a totally different world?and to a totally different century, for that matter. Considered an enchanted place by early Native Americans for its rolling hills and flowing rivers, the 86-acre working ranch serves as a living, breathing reincarnation of the Old West. It bustles with activity and has been recognized by Oprah as one of the country's best "Wacky Family Attractions."

Rugged structures, lush pastures, and trickling springs surround guests while they explore the property. Perhaps the best way to do that is not by tossing a saddle on a rocking horse, but by climbing aboard tractor-pulled wagon rides. These tractor tours tote passengers across the premises and past a collection of wildlife that includes longhorns, buffalo, deer, and zebras. On foot, guests may encounter pistol twirlers, bull whip champions, trick ropers, and real cowboys and cowgirls that populate the ranch. Such an authentic experience hasn't been overlooked by film creators or party planners, either: the ranch doubles as a movie set, and can also be rented for wedding receptions, birthdays, and other special events.

242 State Hwy. 46 W
Boerne,
TX
US

More than 500 exotic animals prowl, scamper, and crawl through their expansively recreated habitats at Animal World & Snake Farm Zoo. One of the rarest and most beautiful of all the animals is on display in the Ghosts of the Jungle presentation. There, two white lion cubs, some of a very small number in the world tumble and play. They're not albinos, but uniquely pigmented animals first seen in the Timbavati region in 1938, and they have beautifully colored eyes that flit intelligently around their space.

There's plenty else to see there, as well. Guests quake with curiosity as they watch the alligator and crocodile ponds. Patrons can interact with cuddlier critters at the petting zoo, where dozens of fluffy goats, alpacas, and llamas gather to tie-dye their coats. Elsewhere, cackles of hyenas reverberate throughout the grounds, spurring a pack of wolves to emit a more introspective sound by baying at the moon. Wizened tortoises bask in a field of lettuce and racing trophies as a duo of ring-tailed lemurs relax in their environment.

5640 Interstate 35
New Braunfels,
TX
US

Austin Zoo originated as Good Day Ranch in 1990 featuring pony rides and goat-milking demonstrations. Over the next four years, the founders began rescuing exotic animals and evolving into a rescue center, renaming the facility under its current moniker. After becoming a safe haven for more than 300 rescued animals of more than 100 different species, the Austin Zoo began the process of becoming a nonprofit organization, which it completed in 2000. Housed in native Texas Hill Country enclosures, the animals can enjoy real grass and landscaping instead of concrete exhibits or studio apartments. African lions and Bengal tigers stretch out in the big cat habitats while colobus monkeys and a marmoset swing from tree to tree in monkey areas. In addition to wild creatures, the zoo houses domesticated animals such as a miniature donkey, potbellied pigs, and llamas.

10808 Rawhide Trl
Austin,
TX
US

Every evening from March to September, just before sunset, as many as 12 million Mexican free-tailed bats erupt from Frio Cave in search of dinner. The bat colony is the second largest in the world. Tour guides lead a caravan of visitors driving their own cars two miles from the ranch gates to Frio Cave, then guests are taken to the top of a hill to witness the winged spectacle. With the sun low in the sky and the bat signal shining, the cloud of bats bursts forth alongside cave swallows and rock wrens, seeking insects to eat while evading birds of prey such as kestrels and peregrine falcons. After spending the spring and summer mating in Frio Cave, the bats resume their migration to Mexico and the college students return to their dorms.

Ranch Rd. 2690, 1/3 mi. South
Concan,
TX
US