Safari West is one solution following yesterday’s wine blog about children being welcomed into wine country…

[With the exception of the overnight tent accommodations, these images are of my daughter Melanie Hoffman and her children.]

Where to stay, so kids aren’t totally isolated into an adult world… Why not a wild animal preserve? Just minutes from where I live, Safari West is such a special place.

It’s always such an inspiring meeting with nature, when I go to their location, and I always want to bring children with me in the process.

… And, they have a GREAT wine list, parents …

Here’s a bit about Safari West, from their site.

Here in the heart of California’s wine country… in the fields of wheat-colored grass, on the slopes of rolling green hills, among the trees and ranches and vineyards is where you will find the essence and spirit of Africa.

Not a drive through park…this is the home of Nancy and Peter Lang.

Come through our gate and be transported into an exotic, new world. A captivating tapestry of raw sounds and earthy smells; a magic place with the sights and sounds of the Serengeti where the air is filled with melodious chirps from the aviary, squawking calls from gregarious parrots, and a occasional lemur screech. An African style oasis where guests experience a rare sense of freedom and gain renewed inspiration..

Safari West serves two important functions: first and foremost, we are a wildlife preserve, with several important ongoing projects such as:

The propagation of endangered species. Safari West is the home of zebras, giraffes, cheetahs and many more exotic creatures.

Under the directorship of Nancy Lang, Safari West is breeding several endangered bird species.

Several Research and Conservation programs are ongoing: Conservation through Education.

But Safari West is more than a preserve. We are dedicated to raising awareness of our exotic neighbors and promoting understanding through in-person contact. That’s why we offer safaris year-round. If your only experience with a zebra or giraffe has been at a zoo, you should see these beautiful animals in their natural habitat. You owe it to yourself, and to them.

And you thought coming to wine country is all about wine… Not if you have children.

Safari West features luxury tents that are imported from Africa, and they’re built on high wooden platforms with spacious decks. The pale green canvas walls make them part of the landscape… but they’re not just any old tents… like the ones I used in camping out in days of old. These tents enclose plush beds, hot showers, and rustic but elegant decor. They have polished wood floors and unique hand-hewn furniture. A continental breakfast is included, and you can enjoy that overlook wildlife. For me, the giraffes make me smile, every time I see them.

I’ve borrowed this image from their site, because I haven’t photographed inside their tents, but you really need to see why I, my children, and grandchildren are so excited about this area as an option for being here.

If children are coming along with you to wine country, as parents you have an obligation to them (and the people around you who either didn’t bring theirs, or don’t have any of their own), to make sure that your children are happy and engaged. They’ll learn that wine is an everyday part of life as a liquid food, most especially if they wake up in an area that’s designed to inspire them, first thing in the morning and last thing at night, before they head off into dreamland.

When you return from your day of tasting, your children will be able to explore the following on tours:

  • Birds: in an aviary and on the lower grounds
  • Carnivores ~ Cheetah, Fennec Fox, and  Serval
  • Hoofed Mammals ~ Addax, Aoudad, Blue Duiker, Bongo, Bontebok, Cape Buffalo, Common Eland, Dama Gazelle, Gemsbok, Grant’s Gazelle, view more, including their zebras
  • Primates ~ Black-and-White Colobus Monkey, Black-and-White Ruffed Lemur, De Brazza’s Monkey, Patas Monkey, Ring-Tailed Lemur
  • Reptiles ~ Tortoise, Sulcata or African Spurred
  • Rodents ~ Indian Crested Porcupine

Yeah… all in wine country…

Conservation through educational opportunities

At Safari West, they strive to promote the most thorough understanding of our natural world, and they emphasize how and why it is what it is, and where it’s heading.

Established early on as grade school excursions, our trademark Safari tours present guests with an entertaining and academic adventure covering many of the fundamental and advanced aspects of environmental studies from behavioral ecology, through evolutionary theory,and most importantly to conservation.

Aside from our tours Safari West continues to promote education with hands on training and research in various scientific fields. Through our Wildlife Foundation we support student researchers in their ongoing ambition to work with these animals in their natural environments. This task is not only sponsored by the Foundation, but students are actively trained on property in the fields of physiology, anatomy, and ethology.

I highly recommend Safari West as a wine country destination for any adults who are bringing their children with them. As a family destination in wine country, it gives parents a great base from which to explore, while your children also enjoy a vacation that inspires and wows them. The day I discovered Safari West is the day that my life because enriched, because I’m an animal lover… always bring home the strays. I understand how Peter Lang had a need to rescue Hollywood animals… Bringing them to a place that would be a sanctuary and a base to educate people about wild animals.

Again, from their site:

Since its founding, Safari West has grown from a small safari based operation, serving several hundred visitors to a premier educational facility. Safari West’s continual growth and evolution were carefully steered during the past two decades by Peter and Nancy Lang… Now with over 60,000 annual visitors, Safari West was rated by AAA second only to Disney Land as a must experience location in California. This year, Sunset Magazine listed it as one of the top 300 destinations in the western United States.

I bring my children and grandchildren to Safari West for occasional updates… I hope you can, too.