When you vacation in a cabin or condo in the North Georgia Mountains, the chances are pretty good that you will see some type of wildlife. Whitetail deer and turkeys abound, and have been seen by many of our guests right outside their cabin! Yes, there have been bears, such as the family in our photo- but that is rare. While awesome to see, we highly discourage feeding the animals or going near them. Take a photo and keep the memory!
However, if you and the family want to see wildlife up close and personal, the North Georgia Mountains is the place to do just that. We recently visited the North Georgia Zoo and Petting Farm, and had a blast! They have been featured on Good Day Atlanta and Dirty Jobs television shows, and are fast becoming a popular stop for visitors and locals. You can tour the zoo and see birds of prey, wildcats, primates, and other exotic animals. You and the kids can wander the petting zoo, feeding the goats, lambs, alpacas, and calves, or enjoy a pony ride. All activities are priced separately, so you can choose how much you want to do and spend. They also offer special activities such as Behind the Scenes Wildlife Walks, Wolf Cub Encounters, and even a Zoo Camp for kids, full or half day, July 30th – August 1st, 2012! They have a newsletter you can sign up for- check out their website at www.myfavoritezoo.com or call 706-348-7279. There are also picnic areas and a gift shop, so you can really make a day of it!
The Chestatee Wildlife Preserve is off Hwy 115 between Cleveland and Dahlonega, so it is less than half hour drive from Helen, Georgia. They are open year round, and have a pavilion area for groups, birthday parties, and animal shows on the weekends. With over twenty acres of rolling farmlands that house exotic and native animals, and winding paths to wander on, you will have plenty of photo opportunities! When we toured, we saw white tigers, leopards, lions, wolves, camels, and much more. There was an exotic bird cage (they are so fun to talk to!), reptile exhibit, and even gorillas. Their most popular residents seem to be the Ze-donks, a cross between a zebra and donkey. As you can see, they love to pose! This zoo also has picnic tables and a playground, so bring a lunch and spend the day.
If you want to see wildlife, but prefer to stay close to Helen, check out the Black Forest Bear Park on Main Street in downtown Helen. They showcase several types of bears, and also have an exotic reptile exhibit. See their website for hours and pricing. Also downtown is the Live Tarantula Gallery, and it is not as scary as it sounds! Along with huge hairy spiders (who are quite tame), you can get up close and personal with iguanas, pythons, and other exotic reptiles. Call 706-878-7041 for details. Something you definitely don’t see every day!
And finally, no trip to North Georgia is complete without a stop at Goats on the Roof. Just outside of Helen on Hwy Alt. 75, you can feed the goats who travel across the bridge from roof to roof! There’s also an Amish deli and ice cream shop if you want to chow down, too. Lots of funky and cool souvenirs in the gift shop. They are closed in the winter months, so check out the website or call for hours. 706-892-1250. Fun for everyone!
We would love to hear about your experiences with wildlife sightings in the North Georgia Mountains. What have you encountered?