For animal lovers, creatures are compelling. Here are five places where critters will keep your family’s attention:
1. Dino Digs
The kids can sleep well knowing Stanley is standing guard. The life-sized stegosaurus serves as the Best Western Denver Southwest’s mascot and offers a statuesque tribute to nearby Dinosaur Ridge, where the first stegosaurus discovery took place and work continues today. Hotel owners partnered with paleontologists and museums to create an authentic museumlike experience where families can observe artifacts, learn more about these ancient creatures and get a good night’s sleep.
2. Leaping Lamb Farm
For a trip they’ll remember till the cows come home, choose a farm vacation. Learn about raising lamb and heritage turkeys. Hang with the chickens, brush the horses, admire the peacock and ask about Paco the donkey. It’s all possible on the 64-acre Leaping Lamb Farm in Alsea, Ore. Lend a hand in the greenhouse, find your way to the orchard to pick apples, pears, plums or wander off to forage for mushrooms. Plan for a hike or bike along neighboring trails and marvel at the star-filled sky come nightfall.
3. Ducky Delight
If it quacks like a duck, you must be in a Peabody Hotel. To the delight of visiting landlubbers, a squad of North American mallards waddle through the hotel twice daily, on a red carpet trek from their rooftop home to the lobby water feature. The fanfare is now a time-honored tradition that began in 1932 amid some late-night shenanigans that resulted in fowl swimming in the fountain. Today the birds strut their stuff in the company of their “Duckmaster.” Of comfort to many guests; you won’t find duck on the hotel menu.
4. Big Cat Country
Eureka Springs, Ark.
This unusual 450-acre sanctuary provides refuge for dozens of abandoned, abused and neglected tigers, lions, leopards and cougars while welcoming visitors eager to observe and learn more. Guests at the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge stay in safari-themed lodges, rooms or a treehouse bungalow. Educational talks, learning stations and a half-mile habitat tour led by a keeper are part of the experience. Behind-the-scenes tours and kids day camps are also possible.
5. Canine Comfort
Jokes about sleeping in the doghouse are unavoidable. But good behavior should earn your kids the chance to spend the night in this super-sized beagle where everything comes in the shape of a lovable canine. Relax with books, puzzles and games that are also — you guessed it — dog-themed. You can keep the memory of your Dog Bark Park Inn stay alive by taking home the carved dog art lovingly created by the establishment’s owners.
Responsible pets arriving with their well-behaved humans are welcome with prior approval.