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Issue Date: April 2011

The City List: 2011 - Zoos & Nature Centers

African Safari Wildlife Park

267 Lightner Road, Port Clinton, 419-732-3606 or 800-521-2660, The Midwest's only drive-through safari, home to more than 300 beautiful and exotic animals. Free animal food provided. Camel and pony rides, educational animal shows and pig races. Daily 10 a.m.-5 p.m. March 3-Dec. 4. $8.95-$17.95 (rates vary with season), kids 3 and under free.

Akron Zoo

500 Edgewood Ave, Akron, 330-375-2550, Home to more than 700 animals, including Sumatran tigers, African lions, red pandas, otters and Komodo dragons. Daily 10 a.m.-5 p.m. May-Oct., 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Nov.-April. Winter admission $6, summer admission $6-$10, kids under 2 free.

Cleveland Botanical Garden

11030 East Blvd, Cleveland, 216-721-1600, Ten acres of gorgeous gardens and an 18,000-square-foot conservatory with authentic re-creations of the spiny desert of Madagascar and the cloud forest of Costa Rica. Special exhibits throughout the year. Tue-Sat 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun noon-5 p.m., Wed 10 a.m.-9 p.m. (Memorial Day through Labor Day only). $8.50, children (3-12) $3, members & children under 3 free, seniors (60+) $5.50 (Tue).

Cleveland Metroparks

4101 Fulton Parkway, Cleveland, 216-635-3200, Comprises more than 19,000 acres of land in 16 reservations, connecting parkways and the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. Enjoy picnic areas and all-purpose fields, hiking trails and wildlife-management areas, stables and seven outdoor education facilities.

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo & the RainForest

3900 Wildlife Way, Cleveland, 216-661-6500, One of the country's oldest zoos, featuring 3,000 animals on 168 wooded acres. The African Elephant Crossing habitat and conservation center opens in May. The RainForest is home to 600 animals and 10,000 jungle plants. Wolf Wilderness features Mexican wolves, beavers, bald eagles and wetland species. The 8-acre Australian Adventure children's area takes visitors Down Under. Daily 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (until 7 p.m. Sat & Sun in summer). Winter tickets $5 for kids 2-11, $7 for adults; summer tickets $7-$10; kids under 2 always free, Cuyahoga County & Hinckley Township residents admitted free (zoo only) Mon.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

216-524-1497 or 800-445-9667, Explore 33,000 acres of parkland stretching 22 miles between Cleveland and Akron. Includes the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad and the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail.

Holden Arboretum

9500 Sperry Road, Kirtland, 440-946-4400, A 3,600-acre preserve of woodlands, display gardens, horticultural collections, ponds and walking trails. One of the largest arboretums in the country. Daily 9 a.m.-5 p.m. $3-$6, kids 5 and under free.

Lake Erie Nature & Science Center

28728 Wolf Road, Bay Village, 440-871-2900, Scenic outdoor gardens, live animal exhibits and a planetarium show. Wildlife rehabilitation available. Open daily 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Free.

Lake Metroparks

11211 Spear Road, Concord Township, 440-639-7275, Lake Metroparks is made up of 29 parks and 8,051 acres that offer two golf courses, a 4.8-mile paved trail, five parks on Lake Erie's shoreline, a nature center, a wildlife center, a farm park and a cross country ski center.4Check website or call for hours.

Lake Metroparks Farmpark

8800 Chardon Road, Kirtland, 440-256-2122, More than 50 breeds of farm animals, the Great Tomato Works and hydroponics exhibits.

Lorain County Metro Parks

12882 Diagonal Road, La Grange, 440-458-5121, The 6,500 acres in 22 parks offer activities for nature lovers of all ages. The park offerings include Splash Zone Aquatics and Fitness Center and Forest Hills Golf Course.

Nature Center at Shaker Lakes

2600 S Park Blvd, Cleveland, 216-321-5935, Regular classes for children, plus naturalist-led tours of the trails. Mon-Sat 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun 1-5 p.m., trails open dawn to dusk.

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