For years I’ve wanted to take the kids to Wildlife Safari, but it’s just far enough south that it never made sense to try and pack it into a trip from Seattle. Someday when we live closer, I used to think, a little morosely. Was I sad about not being within easy driving distance of what was surely an overpriced, cheesy operation filled with depressed animals pacing restless circles in their horrible enclosures which were roiling with exhaust fumes and peppered with junk food thrown from car windows? Yes I was, dammit.

It took us a year, but we finally made a trip of it this weekend — and as it turns out, Wildlife Safari isn’t depressing at all. It’s actually pretty goddamned great: filled with contented-looking beasts, beautifully located in a pocket of Eden-like greenery among southern Oregon’s gorgeous rolling hills, and at $60 for the four of us, not a bad deal considering we spent at least a couple of satisfying hours there.

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We stayed the night in Roseburg just to make the visit last longer, and found a place on the Umpqua to play during Saturday’s summery weather.

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Everything about this weekend — the pretty drive, the fun of exploring a new town, the delight on the kids’ faces when they saw the animals, even the tumble and chaos of sharing a hotel room — was perfect. The sort of memories I wish I could flatten between the pages of a book, run my finger over them years from now and remember everything exactly as it was.

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Junni
Junni
9 years ago

I remember going to the safari when I was a kid, and loved it! So much better than a zoo -the animals have more room to roam free.

Molly
Molly
9 years ago

I am finally going to say something ..
I moved to Oregon from Seattle in 1987 when my Daughter was one month old.
It was a total culture shock for me.
One of the first places I took my Daughter was the Wildlife Safari and it was as memorable as what you are saying in this post.
I did move back to Seattle for one year and my Daughter wanted to move back to Oregon and I have been here ever since.
I understand what you are saying.
Oregon is where. it’s. at.
Nuff said.

Laura
9 years ago

We moved to Portland from the East Coast 2 years ago, and I have never heard of this place until today. I’m putting it on our Summer “to do” list. Thanks!

NancyJ
9 years ago

I love the memories you are making – Especially finding a place to swim on a sunny day!

Eric's Mommy
Eric's Mommy
9 years ago

Great pictures Linda. I love animals and that place looks beautiful.

JudithNYC
JudithNYC
9 years ago

I remember taking my little ones to Wildlife Safari in the 80s. We loved it as much as we loved living in Eugene. Now we live in the big city and my little ones turn 40 next month. Excuse me while I go have a little cry.

Amity
Amity
9 years ago

Okay, those antelope (or deer-like creatures…): did they affix balls to the top of his horns for safety, or do the antlers grow with those weird bulbs on the end? Inquiring minds want to know…

Janet in Miami
Janet in Miami
9 years ago

What Amity said – I’ve never seen the like of that before. If you know, do tell….

Erin
9 years ago

Love this, and the photos. Thanks for sharing — your blog is beautiful.

Angella
9 years ago

Oh, love. And I want to go there! My kids would love it.

ememby
9 years ago

These are exactly the days and memories I love for our family, too! Loved your closing paragraph, if only we had a tangible memory to fall back on when we wanted it :)

Lisa
Lisa
9 years ago

Sigh* Those photos of the kids by the river made me miss Oregon so viscerally I could smell the water and the mud and the green all the way here in California. : )Your kids will love these memories too.

Gillian
Gillian
9 years ago

this made me so nostalgic. i went the wildlife safari as a kid in the 80s when my grandparents lived in roseburg. i second what Lisa said…my memories of summers in Oregon are the most solidly etched memories of my childhood. i am so happy that your dream to move to oregon came true :)

Amy N
Amy N
9 years ago

love love love the way you describe emotions. You know just what I’m feeling!

Shawna
Shawna
9 years ago

First, I want to say that those are some pretty awesome pictures.

Second, this Canadian (on whom it was snowing a week ago, mind) cannot get over how GREEN and WARM it looks in all your shots!

Alison
Alison
9 years ago

Great pictures. I always love the llamas. I’m sure they’re noble creatures and all, but they look like the cheerful dorks of the animal kingdom. We just moved to cold and rainy Canada and I want to beam myself to that river. Just lovely.

Holly
Holly
9 years ago

We used to go there all the time when I was younger! I clearly remember having our windshield wipers attacked by an ostrich. not for average zoo, for sure.

Baddest Mother Ever
9 years ago

Wonderful! I just survived a weekend with three kids and two adults in a hotel room (same bedspreads!) and was surprised that it was delightful. My car is filled with boiled peanut shells and stick drawings of each other and I don’t even want to clean it out.

Shalini
9 years ago

That last sentence is just so brilliant.

Kelly
Kelly
9 years ago

I’ve lived in Portland for eight years and never heard of Wildlife Safari. Its a well kept secret (at least from Laura and I). Thanks for the tip!

Jamie
9 years ago

That first picture is particularly stunning. Makes it VERY hard for me to choose to live in the suburbs of Chicago when there are places like that just WAITING for my real estate dollars. So beautiful.

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