Have you ever gone on an outdoor adventure with the hopes of finding fantastic beasts, only to see fellow tourists around every turn instead? For wildlife lovers, this is an all-too-common occurrence. Searching for animals in their natural habitats can be frustrating and, in popular tourist destinations, fruitless. The alternative is visiting a zoo, but these inorganic experiences can feel at best gimmicky, sanitized, and impersonal — and, at worst, unethical.
Luckily, the United States is chockablock with family-friendly locales that bridge this gap between authenticity and ease. These eight destinations offer opportunities to meet some of North America’s indigenous animals — and a few furry foreigners — in safe, natural settings.