Why is it that our to-do lists, filled with places we want to visit and restaurants we want to try, always seem to grow rather than get smaller? When my fiancé and I found ourselves with a free weekend recently, we decided to take full advantage and finally cross an item off our list. After much debate—yes, the list is that long—we settled on the Wilds .


Located in southeast Ohio, the Wilds is one of the largest conservation centers in the country. Rare and endangered species from around the world live in this 10,000-acre, open-range habitat. Take one of the several tours offered, and you will get an up close and personal look into this extraordinary world. Only 74 miles from Columbus, the breathtaking views—think open land and rolling hills—made it hard to believe we were still in Ohio.

Once there, we opted for the Open Air Safari, a 2-½ hour tour of the open-range animal areas. We felt like we were entering a scene from Jurassic Park, minus the dinosaurs. Buffalo, giraffe, rhinos and more roamed about freely. A curious few even ventured near enough to the bus for some great candid shots. Along the way, our tour guide shared a wealth of knowledge, fun facts and funny stories with us. At the end of the day, we walked away with more information, stunning pictures and a deeper appreciation for the Wilds’ mission to “advance conservation through science, education and personal experience.”

If the Wilds is not already on your to-do list, it should be. Complete details on tours, pricing and special events can be found here .