We are not very spontaneous people. Well actually I am, but my husband is not. I love to just think of an idea and go with it, especially when it comes to traveling and exploring new places. On the other hand, the very thought of doing such stresses my husband out. So generally our outings are pretty planned. We don’t have to have an itinerary, but we at least have to have already decided we are going to said place before it’s actually the day to go. This past Sunday just so happened to be the day before my birthday, so I knew that I pretty much had him wrapped around my finger in terms of how I wanted to spend the day. It was a perfect warm sunny breezy October day, so I wanted to be outside! When wracking my brain for ideas of things to do, I remembered the Briarwood Safari Park. We had discussed checking this place out for a while but hadn’t had the opportunity to do so yet. I told Brian my idea and he agreed…if I would drive. Ok, so I’d kind of have to pay for this outing by driving but whatever I’ll take what I can get.
After Lilly’s nap time we set out for our adventure. The safari park is an hour and 20 minute drive from our home. It is located in Bybee, TN, just outside of Morristown. So it was just enough of a little drive to be a short trip. I’ll warn you, when driving the last 5 miles or so of the trip; it’s easy to feel like you must be lost. You’re not. Keep going. It’s located out in the country, on a back road and then up a little lane that looks like it’s definitely going to dead end in someone’s driveway. It does. It’s the driveway of the Safari Park.
The admission was $30 dollars for us. It’s $15 for each adult. Admission for kids 2-11 is $10, while seniors pay $14.00, and kids under 2 are free. The only inconvenience we found at Briarwood Safari Park is that they do not accept credit or debit cards. We were unprepared for this, but thankfully they do accept cash and checks so I was able to write a check for the admission. As you enter the park you’ll be greeted by very friendly faces. There’s a small shelter to stop at to pay the admission and also purchase feed for the animals. The feed is $3.00 per bucket. We ended up with 2 buckets and felt that that was plenty to have with us. For all that this place has to offer it is certainly worth the price they charge in my opinion, especially considering that you can drive through as many times as you wish and stay as long as you want.
After paying for admission, you drive into an open area where there is a petting zoo. A nice lady greeted us to brief us on some things we needed to know, like how to hold the food bowls when feeding the animals, which animals were safe to pet, and she also warned us that the animals are very friendly and will put their heads in the car with you if you are still long enough. You can get out at this point and see the animals first or do that after you drive through the park. We opted to drive through first and then stop at the petting area afterwards. They also do guided buggy tours, so that’s something to ask about if you’re interested.
There is a clearly marked area that guides you into the drive through portion of the park. The drive is through a wooded area and you barely cruise through it the entire time, so it is safe for children to be out of their car seats to get a better look. I held our 13 month old on my lap so she could see while Brian drove through and fed the animals. From the second we entered the driving portion we were met with deer of all kinds. The lady at the entrance was right! They will climb into the car with you if you let them. They’re so friendly. We were then greeted by emu, elk, water buffalo, llamas, rams, pigs, alpacas and more! The park is home to animals from six continents and as we drove the 4 mile stretch of road way through the hills and pasture land, we saw so many animals that I can’t even remember them all. This is an adventure that’s way cooler than a normal zoo though, this is interactive! The animals literally walk right up to you and eat out of your hand. When an animal got too close for comfort for my liking I simply rolled the window up and they were out of my face. One of the most impressive things about the four mile drive to me though, is that there was no point on the drive where we went more than a minute without encountering another animal. Lilly was very interested in all of the animals. She sat very quietly and watched each one. I think she was a little shocked to be so up close and personal with these animals and even more shocked to be out of her car seat in the car. Ha!
After the four mile stretch, we ended back at the petting zoo and got out to explore. In this area there was again a great variety in the kinds of animals we saw. There were animals ranging from donkeys, to goats, to wallabies, to lemurs, to a zorse and many more. Again some of these animals are safe to pet and feed while others are not, but the park officials do a good job of keeping you informed on that. Within this walk through area, there’s also a nice shaded picnic area to enjoy. We stopped here to relax and take some photos of Lilly.
Briarwood Safari Park is the perfect afternoon outing. It’s a great place to kill a few hours, learn a few things, tire out the kids, and enjoy all that nature has to offer. Even my “have to plan everything” husband was super pleased and impressed by this little hidden gem. We will be going back there sometime soon. My only regret is that we didn’t go sooner. If you’re in our neck of the woods in East Tennessee be sure to check out Briarwood Safari Park, I guarantee you won’t be sorry you did.