Checking out The Wilds Life in Ohio

Rhinos lying in the sun

Ohio is a great place to live and play. As such, we’ve made it our mission to check out all 88 counties and explore the entire state.  The Wilds, located near Zanesville in the eastern part of the state, has been on our Ohio bucket list for a long time now.

Fortunately, my nephew was visiting from Florida. While he grew up here, my brother and his wife moved to the west coast of Florida four years ago. Every year he spends some time here in the summer and we’re always excited to do something fun together.

Zebras take cover in the shade at The Wilds in Ohio

The girls and I put our head together. What could we do that would entertain a 16-year-old boy? He’s been to the zoo, too old for the children’s museums and we do lunch every year. After much thought we decided on The Wilds, followed by a lunch out and some local Ohio ice cream.

Planning a Visit to The Wilds

You’ll want to start your visit to The Wilds with a visit to their web site. There are a number of different tours and experiences, and even some where you can stay overnight.

Wild horses from around the globe roam the enclosures at The Wilds in Ohio

We elected to take the Open-Air Safari tour, mostly due to the cost. The full price is $40 per person, which was in my budget for the four of us. The Wildside tour was highly recommended in the reviews and promised a much closer view of the animals. However, at $139 per person it was a bit out of our reach.

No matter the experience you choose, you’ll want to book it online ahead of time. I’d check the site about a week out to be sure you can secure your desired day and time. You can purchase your parking pass at that time or just pay at the gate. The price is $6 either way.

An Open-Air Safari tour bus travels down a gravel road at the Wilds in Ohio

Pack a bag for your visit as well. Sunscreen is always a good idea in Ohio in summer. There’s a bit of shade on the safari truck, but you’ll still see plenty of sun. You’ll also want to pack a bottle of water or purchase one at the onsite snack stand.

Visiting The Wilds

On the day of your visit, plan to arrive about a half hour ahead of time. After checking in at parking, you’ll be directed to a remote lot. From there a shuttle will take you to check-in. There you’ll check in your group and they’ll show you where to meet for your safari. There are bathrooms and a snack stand there as well.

A gray rhino walks through the weeds

The safari busses for the Open-Air Safari tour are modified school buses, whereas the Wildside tour works off of smaller vehicles that can travel off road and go to the animals. In each of the vehicles the seats are located under a shaded canopy.

Shortly you’ll be on the gravel road and into the animal enclosures. Our first animal was a rhinoceros. I should probably know the type of rhino, but let’s just be happy that I know they were rhinos.

On the left is a giraffe and on the right an ostrich. Both are at The wilds in Ohio

There were a number of other animals along our ride: giraffes, different types of deer and horses, zebras and even ostriches. Our guide was excellent, telling us about the animals and some interesting tidbits from his trip through The Wilds each day.

The Budgie Building

There were two stops along the way. Our first stop was at the budgie building. These are small, colorful, tropical birds. Before entering the budgie building you are able to buy feed sticks for one dollar each.

A bird in the Budgie Building at the Wilds in Ohio

Sure, we thought we’d give it a try, so I purchased one for each of us. I was kind of skeptical that they’d actually eat from our sticks.

I didn’t need to be skeptical! The birds were drawn to the sticks right away. They landed on the sticks and ate right out of our hands! A few of them even landed right on our arms.

Carnivore Station

Our next stop was at the carnivore station. There weren’t any big cats, no lions or tigers. But they did have the African painted dogs, which our tour guide told us are the most viscous animals on the planet.

There were dholes as well. I wasn’t familiar with this animal, but they looked a lot like the red foxes that we see from time to time here in Ohio.

According to our guide they don’t chase down their prey or wear it out. Rather they run alongside the animal, taking bites out of it and eating it as they run. Eventually, the animal drops due to blood loss and the dhole is able to finish the meal.

The station also included the clinic and hospital for the animals. And, after a short walk on the boardwalk, we were able to view the cheetah as well.

After the Tour

After you finish the tour, the driver will drop you by the overlook, cafeteria and gift shop. We stopped for a quick run through the gift shop. They had a number of animal and destination themed products.

The parking lot shuttle will then return to take you back to the parking lot. Our driver was excellent, dropped us right off at our car.

The Muddy Miser

After our tour we were ready for some lunch. We decided on the Muddy Miser in nearby Zanesville. The restaurant is located right on the river and the patio overlooking it looked just dreamy. However, after our trek at The Wilds, I was ready for some air conditioning.

The interior of the Muddy Miser in Zanesville, Ohio

Our service was fast and the wait staff pleasant. The entire property is themed after a fisherman character in a Zane Grey novel.

Fish and chips at the Muddy Miser in Zanesville, Ohio

Amanda and Natalie both ordered the ribeye, my nephew ordered a sandwich and I (per my usual) ordered the fish and chips. Everyone was very happy with their meals. And, of course, I was in love with the fish and chips. I’ve really never met a fish and chips I didn’t like, but their’s was excellent.

A ribeye steak on a white plate with a baked potato

Tom’s Ice Cream Bowl

Because we were entertaining my nephew, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to enjoy some ice cream. Actually, I think just about any reason is a great opportunity to enjoy some ice cream.

The exterior of Tom's Ice Cream Bowl in Zanesville, Ohio.

Tom’s Ice Cream Bowl in Zanesville is a local favorite. The environment is decidedly old school with a soda counter and assorted nuts and candies. Actually, I think they are just as famous for their toasted nuts as they are their ice cream.

An old fashioned ice cream counter.

We all chose different flavors. All of them were delicious and creamy, tasted homemade. If you’re looking for a fun road trip, I highly recommend a visit to Tom’s or any of the other Ohio famous brands.


We hope our nephew and you enjoyed FindingOhio with us. There are so many fun road trips in the Buckeye state. What’s on your bucket list?

Be sure to share any favorite Ohio spots. We are always looking for some new Ohio adventure. And, as always, we appreciate you sharing our content to your social media and promoting our beautiful state as an amazing place to live and play.