Family Activities:

John Ball Zoo


John Ball Zoo

1300 W. Fulton St., Grand Rapids, 49501, MI

The Stingray Lagoon at this small, hilly zoo is the best buck you’ll spend on your vacation. The 5,000-gallon outdoor touch pool offers the chance to pet stingrays and sharks as they glide through the water. From little ones to grown-ups, all will love skimming their hands on the stingrays’ silky backs. Another dollar gets you in to the Budgie Aviary, where you can have the flamboyant Aussie birds eating birdseed out of your hand. Camel rides ($5) and a petting zoo round out the hands-on experience here, which includes more 1,100 animals from five continents (tigers, chimps and lions have the best exhibits). Added attractions, such as the four-story, 300-foot zip line, the four-story ropes course, and paddleboats, cost $3-$5 extra.

Begin your trip to the zoo by taking the funicular tram up the hills for just $3, so that when you disembark, you’ll find yourself at the highest point of the zoo and will now be able to see the sights walking entirely downhill. Great for parents with strollers!