Animal encounters are fresh on my mind due to the recent re-opening of the Oregon Zoo. They’re also on my mind because my family and I recently visited Wildlife Safari.
Oregon has some excellent options for kids to be around animals. Aquariums, farms, and conservatories are all available to kids in Oregon. If your favorite place to visit animals is currently closed, be sure to check into their virtual options. I have noticed many places try to at least let their guests keep in touch through virtual events/live camera feeds. Below is a list of places that features animals in Oregon.
The Oregon Zoo re-opens on July 12th. Guests who are six and older will be required to wear masks. Young kiddos between two and five years old are “encouraged” to wear masks if possible. Most of the exhibits will be outdoors, there will be limited attendance, a lot of “one way” signage, and other safety precautions will be in effect.
If you have never experienced the Oregon Zoo, you are in for a treat. The zoo is in Portland. It is home to more than 215 species of animals. There are also more than 1,000 species of beautiful plants within the zoo. The zoo is around 64 acres so there is a lot of walking involved.
For more info on the Oregon Zoo, here is the link: https://www.oregonzoo.org/
Wildlife Safari is in Winston, Oregon. We live in Portland, so it was around a three-hour drive for us. The long drive was absolutely worth it. We just visited for the first time a few days ago.
The WS is a two-part adventure: 1) drive-through 2) walking through “The Village.” There are more than 100 species of animals. This establishment prides itself on its conservation efforts. It is famous for its cheetah breeding program, and its associations with 1) The Giraffe Conservation Fund and 2) International Elephant Foundation.
The safari also offers “enrichment experiences” that allow guests (for an extra cost) to feed, take pictures, and learn about certain animals on an exclusive level. The amazing things we did while we were there was hand-feed deer out of our car windows, ($5 for a large cup of food), and the kids rode a camel ($10 per kiddo per ride). The drive-through took around an hour and it was an experience we will not forget. The village was equally amazing. It was nice to get out of the car and stretch our legs after a long time in the car. We will absolutely go back there.
Here is the link for more information: https://wildlifesafari.net/
Oregon Coast Aquarium
Unfortunately, the Oregon Coast Aquarium is temporarily closed. The website states: “We will open when Lincoln County enters phase 2.” There is an option to buy tickets online for when they reopen. The website also offers live cameras to view the animals and access to their educational website. The aquarium has many beautiful creatures such as jellyfish, sea otters, and sea lions.
Here is the link to their website: https://aquarium.org/
The Seaside Aquarium is currently open. We know this because our family visited there lately. Masks are required, there is one-way signage, and social distancing is encouraged.
This aquarium is awesome. You can feed seals (little trays of fish treats are available for an extra cost). There are many exhibits to view and there is also a “touch tank.” Guests are encouraged to pet, feel, and touch different types of sea creatures. Our family always has a blast at the aquarium.
Here is the link to explore the happenings of this aquarium: http://www.seasideaquarium.com/
Alpacas of Oregon
I have never been here, but I cannot wait to go! It is definitely on my summer to-do list. I recently saw pictures on a friend’s Facebook page and was instantly jealous.
The website has a link for booking tours. It also says 1) closed toed shoes are required 2) pets are not allowed.
The tour takes around an hour. The cost is $12 a person, or “half price for kids five and under.” On the tour, you can hand-feed the alpacas and explore the barn store. There is an option to book online, or people are encouraged to call: 503-348-6958 or 503-348-6954.
The link to the website is: https://www.alpacasoforegon.com/
Great Cats World Park
GCWP is in Cave Junction, Oregon. It is home to 17 different species of big cats, around 50 cats total. They are open every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and admission is between $11-15 dependent on the guest’s age. There is also a gift shop on site.
Here is the link for more information: https://greatcatsworldpark.com/
Cascades Raptor Center
CRC is in Eugene, Oregon. They are currently open Tues-Sun from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This establishment is proud to house around 40 different birds of prey species. It is a large aviary.
This place is open to the public all year. Guests can partake in self-guided tours or more in-depth tours with advance notice. Currently, the website says: “advance timed ticket sales only” through the website.
Here is the link for ticketing information, and info on the establishment: https://cascadesraptorcenter.org/
Whale Watching in Oregon
I started to research this and was quickly overwhelmed by all the information I found! There is much to consider while whale watching with kids. Do you feel comfortable going on a charter boat with kiddos? Would you rather stay on land? Would you like to couple whale watching with camping? I found an amazing article that lists recommendations and suggestions relating to whale watching with kids in Oregon.
Here is the link: https://thedyrt.com/magazine/local/whale-watching-in-oregon/
Sea Lion Caves
The Sea Lion Caves are in Florence, Oregon. They are currently open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. with a limited capacity. Masks are required. Tickets are between $8-$14. The website states that this establishment is “America’s largest sea cave.” Guests can expect to see sea lions, sea birds, whales, bones, and the cave itself. There is some walking involved, and then an elevator takes you down to the cave!
Here is a link to the website: http://www.sealioncaves.com/
West Coast Game Park Safari
WCGPS boasts on their website that they are “Oregon’s largest self-supporting wildlife attraction.” They are open 7 days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The website explains that upon entry, guests are greeted by “free-roaming animals.” There is food available for purchase to feed the animals.
Admission ranges from $10.50-$18.00 dependent on the guest’s age. The safari has around 75 species of animals including tigers, lemurs, and chimpanzees.
Here is the link for more information: https://www.westcoastgameparksafari.com/
Tollen Farm is a farm in Wilsonville, Oregon. They are open on Saturdays and Sundays between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. from April to September. The farm features miniature donkeys, Arabian horses, and a llama. The farm also sells products such as plants, flowers, jewelry, antiques, décor, and more!
This would be a fun place to explore. Currently, guests need to make an appointment before visiting. There are three different options to contact them: 1) email: email@example.com 2) call: 503.682.1604 or visit their Facebook page for more information: https://www.facebook.com/tollenfarmoregon/
Oregon boasts a huge variety of animals due to our beautiful climate and environment. It makes absolute sense that we would embrace animal education and experiences for kids. We are enveloped in animals here in Oregon. From whale-watching to safaris to conservation centers, there are plenty of opportunities for youth to be engaged with animals in our state.
Best of luck to you all in exploring animals through these establishments this summer.