Worth the Drive: Safari Lake Geneva

It’s been a long 120 days in quarantine, but who’s counting?


If your family is in need of a safe socially-distanced activity, Safari Lake Geneva is the perfect and unique option for a fun-filled day.


Located in Genoa City, Wisconsin, about an hour and a half from Chicago and 15 minutes from downtown Lake Geneva, Safari Lake Geneva is billed as Wisconsin’s only social distancing safari.


Before the COVID-19 pandemic, guests could hop on wagons and visit with animals on a guided tour. But now, the wildlife preserve has been turned into a drive-through safari where kids can pet, feed and interact with more than 20 animal species including zebras, ostrich, bison and camels, from the safety of their own cars. The owner, a former zookeeper that goes by “Jungle Jay,” says that business has never been better.


The experience is virtually contactless. Once you pull up to the entrance, a masked employee will confirm your reservation and hand you your feed buckets (which are sanitized after every guest). If you’d like to add more, they’ll automatically charge the card on file. Cash is not accepted.


The experience could take anywhere between 10 minutes and an hour, depending on how fast cars move. A few times, we were sidelined by a camel who wouldn’t get out of the way!


We drove through twice, and my daughters, ages 7 and 4, described the outing as “epic.”

Tips before you go:



    • If possible, opt for an SUV instead of a car for better traction on gravel.


    • Safari Lake Geneva has portable, clean bathrooms on the premise (at the entrance/exit circle), so don’t stress if your kiddos need to use the facilities.


    • Ask for a few extra empty feed buckets so you can portion food for each animal.


    • Hold the feeding buckets from the bottom, or the animals may walk off with your bucket (my daughter lost hers to a bison).


    • The animals aren’t afraid to poke their heads far into your car. If you’ve got a little one who may be afraid, close their window.


    • Once you’re there, you can drive through as many times as you want in one day. You can even leave for lunch and come back.



    • Between the animals licking the windows and the food pellets flying in the car, you’ll need a car wash the next day.



If you go


Safari Lake Geneva


W1612 Litchfield Road, Lake Geneva, Wis.


Adult tickets are $18.95, children ages 3-15 are $11.95, while those 2 and under are free. Feed buckets can be purchased for $5 each.


Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, last admission at 4 p.m.


Find more information at safarilakegeneva.com.


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Lori Orlinsky
Lori Orlinsky
Lori Orlinsky is an award-winning journalist and bestselling children's book author. She is the mom of three little ladies who keep her on her toes.
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