This Drive-Through Wildlife Adventure In Wisconsin Is An Ideal Family-Friendly Outing

In spite of having plenty of budget-friendly destinations and attractions, traveling to Africa isn't always easy on the wallet — especially for large families with kids. Luckily, your dreams of embarking on an African safari don't have to break the bank. Still dreaming of getting up close and personal with some of your favorite animals in the "wild" — all without shelling out the big bucks on flights to and from Africa? If you're anywhere near Wisconsin, planning a family-friendly day out at Safari Lake Geneva might be just what you're looking for.

Founded in 2016 by exotic animal expert "Jungle Jay" Christie, Safari Lake Geneva covers a whopping 75 acres of picturesque Wisconsin farmland, and aims to educate visitors on all things conservation and wildlife preservation efforts while protecting animals from around the world. From antelope to camels, zebras, giraffes, and buffalo, the park is home to a variety of species — some of which are considered endangered — that have been born from parents in captivity and are under severe threat.

However, unlike most traditional zoos or animal parks, it's actually visitors — not animals — who are in cages this time: their cars. Similarly to how things work on an African safari — hence the name — Safari Lake Geneva allows visitors to drive through its enclosure and even feed some of the animals, directly from the comfort of their vehicle. The result? An immersive experience that'll let you watch the animals roam freely as they interact with one another — and with you, too!

Planning your trip to Safari Lake Geneva

Located roughly 60 miles south of Milwaukee, Safari Lake Geneva is tucked away from the hustle and bustle in the village of Bloomfield. Per the park's website, online reservations are required prior to your visit, with general admission tickets starting from $23.95 for adults and $15.95 for children at the time of writing. Additionally, animal feed is also available for a $5 added fee. 

Alternatively, the park also offers group safari tours for up to 20 people aboard their own safari wagon ($595 per group), as well as dedicated "Giraffe Encounters" every hour that include feeding opportunities from a designated platform. Part of the proceeds collected at the park also help fund a variety of conservation projects around the globe, including the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF), Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), and the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake Species Survival Plan, just to name a few.

Keep in mind that, with a general admission ticket, guests are allowed to drive through the park as many times as they want, and entry to the park is guaranteed for the entire day. That said, the park's website recommends that guests spend anywhere from 1.5 to two hours inside the enclosure in order to make the most of their experience.

Other tips for your visit to the park

Safari Lake Geneva is currently open Monday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. — with the last admission set for 5 p.m. — from May 1 to October 31. Visitors are welcome to the park rain or shine, since most animals — except the giraffes — don't mind a little drizzle throughout the day.

That said, it's worth noting that motorcycles, open-top convertibles, and vehicles without doors or roofs are not allowed to drive through the park due to concerns for the safety of both visitors and the animals. Once inside the reserve, all doors must remain closed — only windows and sunroofs are allowed to be rolled down in order to feed the animals. Lastly, dogs — aside from registered service animals — are also strictly prohibited from entering the park due to health and safety reasons.

At the time of writing, Safari Lake Geneva doesn't have any on-site dining facilities for guests to use. However, there are plenty of nearby restaurants and cafes that you and your family can enjoy after your visit. Some of the most popular options include Simple Café, a brunch eatery serving locally-grown, healthy options, and The Next Door Pub, known for its scratch-made pizza and casual atmosphere.