Best Kids' Thrill - 2001
Lion Country Safari
All right, so the winner isn't actually in Miami. What's more important -- your children's happiness or simple logistics? Exactly. Drive eighteen miles west of West Palm Beach on State Road 441, and you'll be at Lion Country Safari, where the kids can observe beasts in their nearly natural environment, as opposed to watching out for them in school hallways. When it opened in 1967, the animal park was the United States' first drive-through cageless zoo, a place where you could drive right through into a herd of zebras and cruise by a few rhinoceros as they graze by the side of the road. These are wild animals, though, and you'll have to make sure the little ones don't roll down the windows to get a better look at the lions. In fact if you drive a convertible, the park will insist that you rent a car at the gate. After the kids get restless, you can park and step into Safari World, the walk-through portion of the park. Here's a tip: To catch the animals at their liveliest, get to the park in the morning, before the heat of the day takes its drowsy toll. The park is open 365 days per year, from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Last car enters at 4:30. Admission is $15.50 per adult and$10.50 per child, but be sure to check local papers and visitor centers for discount coupons. Lion Country's Website also offers coupons. One more thing: Beware of the ostriches and emus. They have a thing for windshield wipers.