You don’t need to trek through the woods to see a great horned owl or have a butterfly land on your shoulder.
Northeast Georgia has several options for families to get up close and personal with both native and exotic wildlife. If you’re interested in meeting some new furry or fluttering friends, check out these four local places.
Elachee Nature Science Center
Dive into the natural history and ecology of Northeast Georgia by visiting Elachee Nature Science Center. Visitors can see native snakes, turtles and amphibians at the nonprofit’s live animal exhibit and learn about bees from its active hives on display. People can also meet Chewy, a great horned owl that serves as the nonprofit’s resident animal ambassador. The center features several trails and a picnic area with a pavilion.
Hours: Live animal exhibit, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday
Where: 2125 Elachee Drive, Gainesville
Price: $5 per adult, $3 per child, free for Elachee members
More info: elachee.org
Dahlonega Butterfly Farm
Dahlonega Butterfly Farm offers an oasis full of hundreds of colorful fluttering insects.
At the property, people can interact with both native and tropical butterflies. The farm provides tours of its butterfly conservatory, which take visitors through each stage of the insect’s life and highlight their contributions as pollinators.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday; noon to 4 p.m. Sunday
Where: 427 Castleberry Bridge Road, Dawsonville
Price: $8 per adult, $5 per child, $6 for seniors and military
More info: dahlonegabutterfly.com
Chestatee Wildlife Preserve and Zoo
Take a tour through the Chestatee Wildlife Preserve and Zoo to see exotic animals you can’t find in your backyard. Some of the furry and feathery residents include zebras, tigers, exotic birds, camels, bears and even a zedonk, a cross between a donkey and zebra. Those wanting a close encounter with the property’s friendly animals can purchase a feed bag for $5.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday-Saturday
Where: 469 Old Dahlonega Highway, Dahlonega
Price: $15 per adult, $10 per child
More info: chestateewildlife.com
North Georgia Wildlife and Safari Park
General admission at North Georgia Wildlife and Safari Park will allow you to see a large variety of animals on a guided tour, interact with furry friends at the petting farm and view daily demonstrations and shows. The park also offers a drive-thru safari that features camels, zebras and the new “llama lane.”
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday
Where: 2912 Paradise Valley Road, Cleveland
Price: $24.99 per adult, $22.99 per child for general admission; $14.99 per person for for drive-thru safariMore info: northgeorgiazoo.com