Sunday at Rowan Wild + Dan Nicholas Park
Soon after we awoke this morning, Ryan had the idea for a family zoo day. When he suggested a trip to the zoo, I was immediately on board. We got the kids all excited (rookie mistake…) and then went online to purchase tickets ahead of time due to COVID-19 precautions. Of course today was all sold out — so much for spontaneity! — but we were determined to find something fun to do outside with the boys that involved animals in some capacity.
We ended up discovering Rowan Wild, an absolute gem located within Dan Nicholas Park in Salisbury, North Carolina. I found the place after Googling “zoos near me” and the reviews all promised a great place for kids and seemed like a perfect fit for our family.
Rowan Wild is a small wildlife park home to native North Carolinian animals that have been permanently injured or have imprinted, meaning they have no fear of humans and never learned the skills they need to survive in the wild. The animal park is very small but it’s surrounded by a myriad of other activities within Dan Nicholas Park that made our morning and afternoon so, so fun! We spent nearly three hours at the park and easily could’ve stayed longer if we didn’t feel like Rhett needed to get home for at least one decent nap today.
With the park located a little less than an hour away, I’m honestly surprised Ryan nor I had never heard of it before. We read that tickets to Rowan Wild went on sale beginning at 10 a.m. (and they’re only ONE dollar) but we saw pictures of a pretty epic looking playground online, so we ended up arriving 30 minutes early and had no trouble wasting 30+ minutes on the multiple playgrounds within the park.
We actually spent more time on the playgrounds than anywhere else because our boys were so into them!
Once we made our way into Rowan Wild we saw black bears, a red wolf (did you know there are only 40 of them left in the U.S.!?), the spunkiest little three-legged fox, raccoons, owls, hawks, vultures, deer, chickens, bald eagles and more.
It wasn’t a big facility at all but it was well-maintained and entertaining for our young bunch.
Can you spot the lizard?
When the woman who sold us our ticket to Rowan Wild mentioned a barn with more animals and an opportunity for gem mining within the park, we knew we wanted to take full advantage of everything. The barn was once again quite small (tickets were only 5o cents!) and we saw a donkey, goats, a sheep and some very noisy roosters.
After an awesome experience in the mountains last fall, we knew Chase and Ryder would love gem mining so we bought a small bucket of dirt and they sifted through a few trays of sand and added some big gems to their collection.
With bags full of gems, we made our way to the carousel which was like a merry-go-round on warp speed. I’m not sure if it always goes as fast as it did today but Ryan and I both laughed because it was flyin’ around and you better believe our boys loved every second!
(They were only doubled up for this pic. There was no way Mr. Independent — aka Ryder — wasn’t manning his own horse.)
Rhett shocked all of us by making it though every activity without napping but after gem mining, I put him in the baby carrier facing me with the sun shade up with the hope that he might doze off. He fought his nap hard but eventually went to sleep for a little while which gave the big kids more playground time and also allowed us the chance to dig into the picnic lunch we packed… even if I did eat my sandwich while swaying and standing up. #MomLife
Rhett’s nap definitely wasn’t a long one but at least it was something!
After a very full morning/early afternoon, we made our way home, but not before checking out the fishing pond and campsites within the park. (They also have a very basic mini golf course, a splash pad in the warmer months and a small train which apparently begins taking passengers around a quarter-mile loop next weekend. I’m sure our boys would’ve been all over that one!)
We left saying we will absolutely be returning to this park in the future because it really was such a fun spot for our family!
As for the rest of our Sunday, our plans include tackling some remaining weekend chores, grocery shopping, grilling out and movie night. I hope you all enjoy your Sunday!