We got a chance to visit and tour Southwick’s Zoo in Mendon, Massachusetts, this week with our friends at New England Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions.
It was a great excursion, full of animal sightings and animal music. Music? We’re talking about a male lion whose roar echoes through the whole zoo, along with occasional, wild outbreaks of gibbering apes and cackling birds. Map.
This small family-owned and -run zoo is very personal, hospitable, and especially ideal for parent and kids. A lofting tree canopy shades all of the walkways. The Skyfari is a sky ride above the zoo, similar to a two-person chair lift. Signs posted high in the sky tell you about the creatures below (for example, do you know the difference between horns and antlers?) The 15-minute Woodland Express Train ride takes you through the North American exhibit and local wetlands (get up close to an elk).
Exotic animals range from a rosy gaggle of flamingos to a true white tiger, a python in the reptile house that folds itself triple just to lie in its cage, many apes and monkeys, two young warthog sisters, massive tortoises … and on and on. Giraffe, Rhino, and sloth encounters give you a chance to learn about these critters in depth and see them up close.
Bring some extra $$$ — the zoo shop has nearly irresistible stuffed animals and there are plenty of little snack shacks on the property to buy treats, like ice cream. (Also, a coin-operated machine dispenses food treats in the goat pen – and you know that goats are keenly aware of what comes out of those machines).
A really delightful restaurant, Galliford’s Restaurant & Tavern, is a posh place where everyone in the group can enjoy excellent food and, for adults, alcoholic beverages. Other eateries are the Zebra Café, Pizza Shack The Sweet Stop, and Snack Shack. Fun events happen all year. Examples are:
Sunset Serenade. Wednesday and Thursday evenings in the summer. Cocktails, appetizers, and music on the Galliford’s lower patio. Learn More
Christmas in July on July 27 and 28. Christmas entertainment and even a visit from Santa.
EARTH Awareness Day on August 3. Learn about conservation and other topics including beekeeping, endangered species, wetlands, birds of prey, and more. Learn More
Sounds of Africa on August 10. A day of African music, drumming, and dance. Learn More
Summer Slam Safari Scavenger Hunt on August 18. Test out your knowledge of animals during this scavenger hunt. Scavenger hunts are of varying difficulties.
Families with Multiples Day on September 29. The zoo welcomes families with twins, triplets, or other sets of multiples!
Zoo Boo Days on October 19 to 31. Who’s ready for Halloween?
Harvest Fest on October 29. Live music and entertainment, craft and farmers market vendors, and much more.