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Best Zoo within 4-6 hours driving distance of Las Vegas?

Discussion in 'United States' started by kemilie, 26 Jan 2015.

  1. kemilie

    kemilie New Member

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    Anchorage, AK 99507
    Hi! We are going on a trip to Las Vegas (from Alaska, where we live!) for a karate event, and my son would really like to go to a "big zoo" - this desire comes from a visit to the San Diego Zoo this past fall in which he became quite enthralled with animals. :) I google "top 10 zoos", and get lots of different advice.... but you guys look like experts on this sort of thing. :) If you were in Vegas and willing to drive 4-6 hours, and wanted to go somewhere different than the San Diego Zoo/Wildlife Conversation, where would you go? Or is there nothing all that spectacular and I'd be better off spending more and flying somewhere close to there (that's a bit more logistically challenging, but if it was worth it I would try to make it happen... !).

    Thanks for any input/advice!
     
  2. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Moderator Staff Member

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    Sadly, no other major American cities (and thus zoos) are within easy driving distance of Las Vegas. However if you don't mind a bit of a drive there are options. Of course the American southwest has lots of great landscapes that are worth seeing. I realize you have great landscapes in Alaska too, but these are quite different.

    Living in Arizona I am biased, but I would do a route straight to Phoenix (4 1/2 hours on Highway 93) and visit Phoenix Zoo and Wildlife World Zoo. Then go back via the longer route of Interstate 17 and see Sedona and Grand Canyon. Other animal parks along the way (if you have extra time) include Out Of Africa, Bearizona, Keepers of the Wild.
     
  3. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Moderator Staff Member

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    By the way, I think all of us on ZooChat will give you a vote for World's Best Parent for being willing to go so far out of your way to take your son to a zoo!
     
  4. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Moderator Staff Member

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    Another option is to go 4 1/2 hours southwest (instead of southeast to Phoenix) to Palm Springs / Palm Desert. This is home of The Living Desert, which is one of my favorite zoos. Since you are from Alaska, you will see a lot of desert wildlife you won't see at typical zoos. It is also near Joshua Tree National Park. However, Joshua Tree is not nearly as scenic as Grand Canyon and Living Desert does not have as many animals as either of the two Phoenix Zoos. It is also a more boring drive through open desert while the route to Arizona goes through scenic mountains.
     
  5. kemilie

    kemilie New Member

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    Thanks for the suggestions, I'll go look them all up and get to planning! We have a few days so maybe we could go both directions but I'm *probably* not THAT crazy! :)
     
  6. zoomaniac

    zoomaniac Well-Known Member

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    I don't know the actual traffic conditions in Southern California and Arizona, because it's been about 10 years since my last visit there.
    But I recommend you to go to drive to Southern California and check San Diego Safari Park in Escondido (huge, with interesting species), Los Angeles Zoo (not a leading zoo, but at least okay and and with a good collection for ABC-visitors) and - as Arizona Docent already wrote - The Living Desert in Palm Desert. As the name indicates, this zoo is (mostly) for desert animals (from North America and Africa) in a desert environment (even in spring and fall in can extremely hot there, not to mention the conditions in summer). For you guys from Alaska this must be a special experience.;)
    If you are interested in marine creatures as well, Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach is a good option (although Las Vegas has its own - but smaller - Aquarium in the Mandalay Bay Hotel).
    All those destinations can be reached from Las Vegas within 6 hours.
    And I agree with Arizona Docent: You deserve the title "Mama/Daddy of the year".:)
     
  7. cloudedleopard

    cloudedleopard Well-Known Member

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    Pacific Marine Mammal Center, Santa Ana Zoo, OC Zoo, Living Desert maybe? What about the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum?
     
  8. kemilie

    kemilie New Member

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    Thanks again for all the great suggestions! Should be fun. :)