Zoo/wildlife sanctuary with comfortable overnight accommodations
April 11, 2014 9:44 AM   Subscribe

I'm helping come up with location ideas for a small wedding for a couple that loves animals and trying to find locations like zoos or wild animal parks/sanctuaries in North or Central America where there are nice, comfortable overnight guest accommodations for ~15 on the grounds of the facility.

The couple plans to have 15 guests and pay airfare and three nights lodging for their guests (Yes, it is a destination wedding, but they're paying the freight). The guests are in the western U.S. and the wedding will be at the end of February. They love animals and their first idea was to do the wedding (and accommodation) at a southern California zoo. Our first idea was the San Diego Safari park, but in addition to being expensive ($15k for a single night) the staff was concerned that our guests might get cold/wet in tents in February.

We're trying to think of other ideas. They think they can afford airfare for 15 to Central America, but anywhere farther afield is out of the question (so Africa is unfortunately not an option). They have several older guests so are looking for more comfortable places. They will not be having a formal ceremony, no event set-up required, just a space to all be together.

Anyone with any other suggestions? Thanks
posted by arnicae to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Not super exotic, as destinations go, but there's The Wilds in central Ohio (I'd fly into Columbus). A quick look says that they do events like weddings, and also have private yurts as well as a lodge that sleeps 12. So maybe a combo of both, though central Ohio in February... *shiver*
posted by librarianamy at 9:51 AM on April 11, 2014

Safari West has tent cabins that would be quite comfortable even in winter. Many rooms are right next to the main pen where they have giraffes roaming around. Bonus: located in Sonoma.
posted by mshrike at 9:58 AM on April 11, 2014 [4 favorites]

There's always Disney's Animal Kingdom.
posted by jmsta at 10:01 AM on April 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Duke's Lemur Center? No acomodations on the grounds, but it would be easy to find a place to stay nearby.
posted by MsMolly at 10:06 AM on April 11, 2014

The Los Angeles Zoo does weddings. It is also a botanical garden, so is quite beautiful. It is small enough that it is easy to wander around in, even for the older folks. It really is a darling zoo. Actually, if I were to ever get married, I have already chosen it as my spot.

The only caveat would be that they are expanding and doing construction in certain areas, so be sure to ask about that and any noise it would produce.

(I also like the fact that you can walk around with wine!)
posted by Vaike at 10:23 AM on April 11, 2014

The Santa Barbara Zoo is BEAUTIFUL and small enough for people to get all around. It is across the street from the beach and has many hotels within about a block of the zoo entrance.
posted by magnetsphere at 10:28 AM on April 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have never been to Safari West but a friend went and it sounded really cool, and they do special events.
posted by radioamy at 10:42 AM on April 11, 2014

Hi, just to clarify...only looking at zoos/what have you with lodgings actually on the premises. There are lots of amazing and gorgeous zoos that don't have lodgings on the premises. Thanks for the tip on Safari West though!
posted by arnicae at 10:52 AM on April 11, 2014

Seconding Safari West. Really neat place.
posted by jcworth at 11:56 AM on April 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh! Stay at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge at DisneyWorld. We stayed in a 2 bedroom unit at Kidani Village there-could hear the giraffes chew from our balcony. Beautiful, beautiful building, too. They have a couple really fabulous restaurants, as well. I'm a complete Disney parks fanatic but could very happily have had a vacation just at that resort-the art, the pools, the animals, tons of activities.

I'd recommend renting points to stay in one of the timeshare units, which is what we did. It was much less expensive than a cash registration and the rooms are beautiful, with kitchens and living rooms. The company I linked to will walk you through the options if you want to consider that.
posted by purenitrous at 1:55 PM on April 11, 2014

nthing Safari West, I gave a gift certificate for a stay to my sister as a thank you for many years of support she gave me. She absolutely loved it there! The close proximity to the Napa area is a big plus as well.
posted by IpsoFacto at 3:39 PM on April 11, 2014

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