Wildlife Observation

Enjoy animal adventures at Virginia's nature centers, zoos and natural area preserves. Meet aquatic life at indoor aquariums, touch pools and interactive living exhibits. Or maybe you'll be lucky enough to have a friendly encounter along the Blue Ridge Parkway or Skyline Drive!

Primland, Auberge Resorts Collection

Northern Virginia

Sky Meadows State Park

1. Leesburg - Leesburg Animal Park features llamas, donkeys, sheep, goats, deer and other domestic livestock that visitors can pet and feed. See some exotic animals, too, such as monkeys, parrots and flying squirrels!

2. Fredericksburg - George Washington's Ferry Farm is the boyhood home of our nation's first president. Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the farm, which is located on the banks of the Rappahannock River.

3. Fredericksburg - G. Richard Thompson Wildlife Management Area is a sanctuary for wild turkey, rabbits, squirrels, grouse and wildflowers.

4. Lorton - Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge was created to protect bald eagle nesting, feeding and roosting habitats along the Potomac River. There's also more than 1,200 nests for great blue herons. See other birds and ducks, too!

5. Fredericksburg - Pettigrew Wildlife Management Area offers a diversity of upland and wetland habitats.

6. Remington - C.F. Phelps Wildlife Management Area is 4,539 acres of low hills and shallow

7. Woodbridge - Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge is home to 650 plant species, 218 bird, 55 butterfly and other robust wildlife communities.

8. Lorton - Pohick Bay Regional Park occupies a spectacular bayside setting and shelters a profusion of wildlife, especially the bald eagle.

9. Leesburg - Audubon Naturalist Society Rust Sanctuary is a 68-acre preserve. See many species of birds and other wildlife.

10. Leesburg - Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve is a 700-acre preserve with wildlife habitats including wetlands, fields and forests. Nature trails provided.

11. Purcellville - Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship includes a farm, forest and meadows as well as a historic village landscape. Walk the trails, help on an archaeological dig, attend a workshop and learn about land practices.

12. Herndon - Frying Pan Park features a 1940's farm with drafts horses and other farm animals, a schoolhouse, blacksmith shop and country store.

13. Woodbridge - Julie J. Metz Wetland Bank features great blue herons, wood ducks and other marshy birds as well as songbirds and grassland birds.

14. Alexandria River Farm is the headquarters of the American Horticultural Society and features 25 acres of gardens, a 4-acre meadow, woodlands and view of the Potomac River. This is a great place for birdwatchers.

15. Leesburg - Temple Hall Farm Regional Park features a variety of heritage breed farm animals, tours of the farm and wagon/tractor rides.

16. Arlington - Theodore Roosevelt Island is an 88-acre bird sanctuary in the middle of the Potomac River with 2.5 miles of trails.

17. Paris - Paris Barns is a magnificent bank barn farm store at historic Liberty Farm c.1800's in heavenly Paris, Virginia. A farm animal sanctuary and historic working farm.

18. Stafford - Crow's Nest is a crown jewel among Virginia's natural areas. The preserve is home to nesting bald eagles and more than 60 species of neo-tropical songbirds.

Central Virginia

Richmond Metro Zoo

19. Richmond - Maymont Nature Center is a favorite among Richmonders with its 13 huge aquariums that show the story of life within Virginia's rivers. The river otters are delightful! See the childrens' farm, too!

20. Moseley - Metro Richmond Zoo is home to more than 600 animals. Learn about their darling African penguins at the 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. daily feedings. Take the Safari Sky Ride, too!

21. Lynchburg - Blackwater Creek Natural Area features eight miles of hiking and biking trails that follow the creek through the city! Enjoy the Ruskin Freer Nature Preserve, a plant and animal sanctuary.

22. Farmville - Dick Cross Wildlife Management Area is 1,400 acres are maintained and cultivated to benefit wildlife. The area is used for bird dog field trials and is a safe habitat for eagles and waterfowl.

23. Lynchburg - Percival's Island Natural Area is maintained in its natural state as a haven for plants and animals. An old railraod bed runs the length of the island.

24. Beaverdam - Alpaca Pastures of Virginia invite you to watch Alpacas play and eat carrots out of your hand.

25. Lovingston - Nelson County Wilderness Area offers two areas in their natural state, and both are accessble from the Appalachian Trail and the Blue Ridge Parkway.

26. Lovingston - Fortunes Cove Preserve features 755 acres with 5.3 miles of hiking trail, seven viewpoints overlooking the preserve. See bear, turkey and migratory songbirds.

27. Madison & Greene Counties - Rapidan Wildlife Management Area features eight tracts of land. Four tracts adjoin the Shenandoah National Park. Camping is allowed subject to some restrictions.

Southern Virginia

Edgewood Plantation Garden 

28. Danville - The Butterfly Station at the Danville Science Center is open April-October. It promises to inspire visitors of all ages to create their own butterfly gardens!

29. Bassett - Fairystone Farms Wildlife Management Area features deer, turkey, squirrel and raccoon and is part of the Virginia Birding & Wildlife Trail system. See white-tailed deer grazing and a variety of eastern woodland birds.

30. Bassett Philpott Lake Dam and Overlook on the Birding & Wildlife Trail is one of the best spots for brow3n-headed nuthatch, pine warbler and yellow-throated warbler. The lake is host to a variety of waterfowl during migration and winter months.

31. Axton - Turkeycock Mountain Wildlife Management Area is popular with horseback riders and is part of the Wildlife & Birding Trail system.

Virginia Mountains

Waynesboro Fly Fishing and Wine Festival

32. Roanoke - Science Museum of Western Virginia features the Hardbottom Reef Tank featuring fish native to the Atlantic. Live animals as well as reptiles and amphibians make sceduled appearances, too!

33. Roanoke - Mill Mountain Zoo on top of Mill Mountain features more than 55 species of mammals, birds and reptiles. Kids love the Siberian Tiger, Snow Leopards and Red Pandas.

34. Millboro - Coursey Springs State Fish Hatchery is fed by Virginia's third largest natural spring and is a temporary home for trout. Fingerlings are received from the Paint Bank Fish Culture Center and grown to a catchable size at Coursey Springs before being released. There is no visitor center but a free guided tour is offered to visitors.

35. Monterey/McDowell - Highland Wildlife Management Area is home to bear, deer, turkey, squirrel and grouse!

36. New Castle Barbours Creek Wilderness Area covers the southeastern slope of Potts Mountain in northern Craig County. Barbours Creek itself is a popular trout-fishing spot.

37. Blue Grass - Buck Run and Locust Spring Run Trails. The Buck Run Trail provides a view of beaver ponds, open glades and vegetation that you would expect to see in Canada. The Locust Spring Run Trail provides views of northern hardwoods and is an ideal trail for viewing deer and wild turkey. Waterways in the area contain native Brook Trout.

38. Troutville - Woodpecker Ridge Nature Center offers birders and nature enthusiasts many opportunities for wildlife watching, such as a hawk-watch platform, feeding stations for songbirds and butterfly gardens. Trails meander from open fields through pond habitats, hardwood forests, spruce and cedar stands. 

Shenandoah Valley

Scenic Skyline Drive

39. Luray Luray Zoo is home to over 250 animals, and is the only true rescue zoo in Virginia! Luray Zoo offers one of the largest venomous snake collections on the east coast, outside exhibits, as well as a petting zoo.

40. Natural Bridge - Virginia Safari Park is Virginia's only drive-thru zoo with hundreds of animals roaming free on the park's 180 acres. Feed, touch and observe camels, zebra, llamas, bison, ostrich, deer and antelope, giraffes and more. Not to be missed!

41. Staunton - The Frontier Culture Museum features four farms spanning the 17th-19th centuries in Europe and America. See the livestock and farm lands of the eras.

42. Lexington - Enjoy Llama Trekking at Applewood Inn during a two-hour guided hike over trails with views of the Blue Ridge Moutains. An optional picnic on the hilltop is included.

43. Winchester - The Wagon Wheel Ranch invites you to trail ride on horseback to see many kinds of wildlife.

44. Lexington - Chessie Nature Trail is a 7-mile trail along the old railroad bed. For pedestrians only and great for birding.

45. Glasgow - Locher Tract Balcony Falls Trail is home to beaver, deer, herons, quail, turkey and other creatures. It's an easy 1-mile loop trail along the James River.

46. Natural Bridge - Natural Bridge State Park has lizards, frogs and other woodland critters, an underground stream and beautiful waterfall. The park also offers an owl walk, among other wildlife hikes.

47. Luray - Outdoor Adventure Programs in Shenandoah National Park include activities along the Appalachian Trail. Guides are emergency medical technicians, too!

48. Staunton Betsy Bell Wilderness Park offers a magnificent view of the Shenandoah Valley from its observation platform (elev. 1,959 feet). Hikers will find a welcome natural area to explore and may catch a glimpse of the deer herd which haunts the slopes.

Coastal Virginia - Hampton Roads

Virginia Living Museum

49. Norfolk - Nauticus, The National Maritime Center features exotic aquaria, touch pools and a shark-petting tank!

50. Newport News - See animals native to Virginia at the Virginia Living Museum, which has been expanded three times its original size! See a cypress swamp with alligators and snapping turtles and even a limestone cave with various nocturnal creatures!

51. Virginia Beach - Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center features aquariums that are home to the largest collection of Chesapeake Bay fish in the world. Visitors can visit the touch tanks with gentle stingrays, horseshoe crabs and other marine life. The museum offers special boat trips to see dolphins, whales and other ocean creatures during the year, too!

52. Virginia Beach Dolphin and Whale Watching Boat Trips are led by naturalists from the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center. April-October for dolphins; December-March for whales.

53. Virginia Beach - The Chesapeake Bay Center at First Landing State Park features three aquariums, environmental exhibits and a touch tank maintained by staff from the Virginia Marine Science Museum. The park is a terrific place to stay, too!

54. Virginia Beach - Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge is a habitat for a wide assortment of endangered species such as loggerhead sea turtles, piping plovers, peregrine falcons and bald eagles.

55. Norfolk - The Virginia Zoo has more than 400 animals living there. Africa, the most exciting expansion in the Virginia Zoo's history, takes visitors to the Okavango Delta in Botswana to see the animals native to that part of the world. During the summer, kids can camp overnight at the zoo!

56. Hampton - Grandview Nature Preserve is right on the Chesapeake Bay and includes 2 1/2 miles of bay-front beach to observe birds.

57. Suffolk - The Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge is world-famous for its unique ecosystem! The swamp supports a variety of mammals including otter, bats, raccoon, mink, grey and red foxes, and grey squirrels.White-tailed deer are common throughout the refuge and, although rarely observed, black bear and bobcat inhabit the area.

58. Portsmouth - Hoffler Creek Wildlife Preserve includes a unique saltwater lake and is a thriving habitat for native species. There's a butterfly garden and pond, wildlife meadow, an oyster garden, walking trails and an observation tower.

59. Hampton - Sandy Bottom Nature Park features two lakes, wetlands, a nature center and children's playground as well as hiking trails and camp sites. Nature programs are offered throughout the year, too.

60. Williamsburg - Chickahominy Wildlife Management Area has mowed trails to benefit wildlife as well as hikers. Visit bluffs along the river and see ospreys and bald eagles. The interior roads lead to turkeys, deer, rabbits, and other creatures.

61. Hampton - Bluebird Gap Farm features barnyard animals and a petting zoo.

62. Smithfield - Ragged Island Wildlife Management features nature trails and panoramic views of the James River.

63. Virginia Beach - Hunt Club Petting Farm has sheep, goats, pigs, zebu cows, donkeys, llamas, geese, swans and more!

64. Newport News - Peninsula SPCA & Petting Zoo has an exotic animal area with leopards, mountain lions, jaguars, bald eagles, lynx, fox and others. The petting zoo features barnyard animals.

65. Virginia Beach -  The Bunny Hutch is an exotic shelter and educational facility. Visit today for a backstage tour to see the zookeepers work and visit America's largest bunny (Lord Roland Watson Beldon Maxwell VIII), all his animal friends! 

Blue Ridge Highlands

Fort Chiswell Animal Park

66. Marion - The Clinch Mountain Wildlife Management Area offers roaring mountain streams and easy-going Laurel Bed lake to view wildlife as well as along hiking trails through the woods.

67. Woodlawn - Crooked Creek WMA Birding & Wildlife Trail has numerous habitats to explore with seasonal periods of hawk and butterfly migration.

68. Saltville Hidden Valley Wildlife Management Area features Hidden Valley Lake and 6,400 acres developed for wildlife habitats.

69. Marion - Mt. Rogers National Recreation Area is a 115,00-acre wonderland within the George Washington & Jefferson National Forests. With hundreds of miles of hiking trails, you're sure to spot plenty of wildlife. The Naturalist Rally tours showcase the natural wonders of the mountains, too!

70. Abingdon - Pinnacle Natural Area Preserve is habitat of more species than any other preserve in the region. Hiking trails and a suspension bridge get you closer to wildlife.

71. Lambsburg - Stewarts Creek Wildlife Management Area is located just off the Blue Ridge Parkway. It has clear running mountain streams, wildflowers, deer, grouse, turkey and squirrel and is part of Virginia's Birding & Wildlife Trail.

72. Hillsville - Beaver Dam Creek Birding & Wildlife Trail meanders through a peaceful canopy of hardwoods.

73. Fancy Gap - Devil's Den Nature Preserve is just off the Blue Ridge Parkway and features a type of cavern that was formed by the movement of rock. Trails cross the tract.

74. Stuart - Fairystone Loop contains a mix of wildlife known from the western mountains and the central piedmont. Just back from the shores of Philpott Lake, visitors can find the small pinkish-brown, cross-shaped fairystones.

75. Max Meadows - Fort Chiswell Animal Park features some exotic wild animals in the "Outback" and a variety of petting animals in the "Petting Zoo." 

Chesapeake Bay

Chapel Creek

76. Mathews New Point Comfort Nature Preserve and Observation Walkway gives visitors an intimate look at life at the edge of the Chesapeake Bay. It's also a great place to view the New Point Comfort Lighthouse.

77. Mathews - Mathews Birding & Wildlife Trails features 94 square-miles of natural habitat on the Atlantic flyway and is considered a "Birders' Paradise."

78. Mathews - New Point Comfort Nature Preserve offers a variety of waterbirds, fiddler crabs and yellow seaside dragonlets. See the lighthouse, the third oldest still standing in the Bay.

79. King George - Caledon State Park is the summer home of one of the largest concentrations of American bald eagles on the East Coast. Call for access to marshes and the Potomac River. Forest trails are open year around. 

Coastal Virginia - Eastern Shore

Assateague Shore Birds

80. Chincoteague Island - The Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge is a habitat for waterfowl, shorebirds, wading birds, wild ponies and other wildlife!

81. Chincoteague - The Chincoteague Pony Centre features pony rides on precious Chincoteague ponies, all related to Misty.

82. Cape Charles - Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge features a wildlife viewing area, foot trails, wildlife observation platforms and a photography blind.

83. Eastville - Savage Neck Dunes Natural Area Preserve features a migratory songbird habitat and other wildlife.

84. Nassawadox - Virginia Coast Reserve: Brownsville Farm has a 3-mile nature trail through woodlands, farm fields, wetlands and salt marshes. 

Heart of Appalachia

Gap Caverns

85. Buchanan and Dickenson Counties- Buchanan County hosts three sites of the Wildlife and Birding Trail System with six adjoining sites in neighboring Dickenson County. These sites and the area between each are prime locations for migrating warblers as well as many other species.

86. Wise Lake Keokee is home to bass, sunfish, tiger, catfish, muskie and a variety of other fish and wildlife. Boating is limited to non-motorized or electric motor boats only. Take the Loop Trail 3.7 miles around the 92-acre lake.

87. Tazewell - Sandy Head Ostrich Farm offers ratites (ostrich and emus), birds, and llamas. Open Fridays and Saturdays.

88. Wise - The Phillips Creek Loop Trail includes special stops for wildlife viewing, namely deer and turkey. It's 1.3 miles and less than a 20% grade.

National Parks

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Waterfalls in Virginia

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