Take a walk on the wild side—literally. At the Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange, one of NJ's beloved animal sanctuaries, you can do just that!

On Friday, June 17th, members can pre-register to take a special, one-hour guided night tour. First tours go out at 8 pm! (This is open to zoo members only, but you can join!)

1. Safari Mini Golf is now open from 3–8 pm Mondays–Thursdays, 12–9 pm Fridays,  11 am–9 pm Saturdays, and 11 am–7 pm Sundays. Always call ahead, though, because these hours are subject to change.

2. Kids can get their faces painted on the weekends. They won't just get to see animals—they can pretend to be one!

3. Logic will confirm that you're still in NJ, but you can "travel" to South America in this permanent exhibit. Keep your eyes peeled for the native creatures: the flightless Rhea bird, llamas, Capybaras, black-necked swans, and, their newest residents: giant tortoises, both Galapagos (shown in photo above) and Aldabra!

4. All aboard the train ride, which is included with admission! That's right—your adventure begins with a 15-minute train ride through the South Mountain reservation.

5. (Plan to get to the zoo early as the animals are usually more active first thing in the morning!) Call 973-731-5800 to confirm event details before leaving home. Hours, events, and show may change at the last minute.

Another New Jersey zoo to visit:

Space Farms Zoo & Museum in Sussex, NJ has more than 500 animals of 100 different species. And, fathers receive free admission on Sunday, June 19th! (Dads won't want to miss the snake-handling demonstration at 1 pm and special talks on paternal behavior following a nursery feeding at 2 pm.)

What other zoos do you and your family enjoy visiting? Comment below!


Cassie Title is a freelance writer and blogger who grew up in New Jersey.