Have you ever been at the zoo and thought “man, I just wish I could get a little closer to the animals?” Okay, yeah…me neither. But my kids would gladly get up close and personal with the zoo animals. They love a good hands-on experience!
Lazy 5 Ranch is a “zoo meets wilderness” type of experience. Over 750 animals call Lazy 5 their home and within the gates of the ranch you can have a personal encounter with each one of them!
Lazy 5 Ranch is located about 30 miles outside of Charlotte, North Carolina and it’s absolutely a “must see” destination if you are in the area! Not only will you get to experience the beautiful country setting just minutes outside of a major city, but you will have a one of a kind day!
In my opinion there are a few Do’s and Don’ts when you visit the Ranch. Here are 5 things to know and keep in mind:
- Don’t Drive: There are 2 options for viewing Lazy 5 Ranch- you can take your personal vehicle, or you can ride in an open air wagon pulled by a team of horses. The driving option is a tad less expensive (driving rate: $11- adult, $8- child vs. wagon rate: $16- adult, $11- child); however, food buckets are included in the wagon rate. At $3 per bucket, you really aren’t saving that much! The wagon driver will also identify all of the animals found on the ranch, answer questions, and point out interesting facts about the animals. We found our guide to be incredibly knowledgeable and also good at spotting hidden animals. Additionally, the animals slobber, eat messily, and put their hooves up on the wagon. Personally, that’s just not a risk I’m willing to take with my own vehicle!
- Book Early and Go Early: It was not my original plan to be at Lazy 5 Ranch at the crack of dawn (well…it was really like 9AM…but it still felt really early!); however, we failed to plan in advance and that was the only available wagon space. So my first piece of advice is to plan as far in advance as possible. Quite by accident though, we realized an early ride was the way to go. Most of the animals were very excited to see us and came right up to the wagon. I asked the driver if the animals ever got full or tired of coming over to the wagons and he said “absolutely.” He pointed out that they are very active and friendly early in the morning, but as the day goes on the novelty wears off. As it heats up and they fill up, the animals are less likely to rush the wagons and cars. While I would have been fine to just observe the animals in their habitat, others (especially the kids) would be very disappointed if they didn’t get to actually feed and pet them!
- Buy Extra Food: When you purchase the wagon ride, you get 1 bucket of food included for every 2 people. The buckets are very large and will go a long way…unless you have an animal feeding enthusiast. If you have a child that LOVES feeding the animals and having them up close, then the food will run out quickly. Unfortunately, once you are on the wagon ride there is no way to purchase more food. Fortunately for us, my other child was an extreme food rationer and we were able to share. But for $3 a bucket, I wish I’d just purchased another bucket or two at the start. If you have food left over at the end of the ride you can feed the animals in the petting zoo area.
- Sit Strategically: There wasn’t necessarily a bad spot on the wagon, but in my opinion there were a few GREAT seats! We were able to sit right behind the wagon driver and we loved that spot because we were always able to hear him when he gave out information. Additionally, we interacted with him and asked lots of questions. He seemed happy to chat with my children and they got the benefit of hearing lots of extra facts and stories about the animals. The seats are arranged along the outside of the wagon and also with a center row. I recommend taking both outside seats and inside seats for your group, if possible. We positioned ourselves with the kids on the outside and the adults on the inside. This gave us prime picture taking angles, but also allowed for our younger child to get away from the bigger, more intimidating animals while he was getting warmed up to the concept. The center aisle is a “safe” zone, but you won’t get as good access to the animals.
- Follow The Rules: For your safety and the animals’ safety, Lazy 5 Ranch has some rules in place. They ask that you do not attempt to feed the zebras because zebras have top and bottom teeth. We did not have any zebras approach our wagon so it wasn’t an issue (apparently they are smarter than horses so I assume they know they will not be fed so they don’t even bother trying!) All of the other rules are really just common sense (like don’t get out of the wagon, don’t stand on the wagon seats, etc.) We really appreciated the efforts that Lazy 5 Ranch put in to make sure that everyone has a safe, enjoyable experience!
Lazy 5 Ranch is a cash only establishment. The property is absolutely beautiful and worth the visit even without the animals! In addition to the rides through the Ranch, they have a play ground, a bathroom and a petting zoo area. There are also several peacocks roaming throughout the entrance area.
For more information on Lazy 5 Ranch, visit their website.