Yes, we the lone, lame, left Americans finally went somewhere this weekend. No, it wasn’t Munich, though a plan was hatched for that which later crashed & burned. Instead, we kept it somewhat local and hit up Steinwasen Park.
Never heard of it? Strange. It’s only like an obscure wildlife park hidden in some random corner of the Black Forest.
Of the handful of places I looked into going for a half-day trip, this was the cheapest. It’s true, that could possibly mean the lamest. But, it’s 34C here (about 93F), no air conditioning, no breeze, no Slurpees. I thought perhaps going up would cool us down.
Unfortunately, that theory only worked when we were in the shade. Fortunately, this park has LOTS of shade. And, we were pleasantly surprised by this place. Skeptic-of-zoos-and-animal-parks me included.
The first thing you should know about Steinwasen Park is that it is literally on the side of a mountain. In fact, all you can see from the outside entrance of the park is this chairlift and a mountain covered in trees!
The website says, "There is no obstacle to strollers. Please note that the park is mountainous." Translation - you're going to have to push your kid up the mountain. If this doesn't suit your fancy, use a backpack carrier or cough up the extra dough and pay to ride the chairlift. If your kid isn't big enough to ride the chairlift, you're hosed.
And speaking of tickets, there are two main categories: Full park ticket and Wildlife park ticket. We purchased two Wildlife park tickets (kids 0-3 are free) which includes everything except the 4 major attractions such as this bobsled run.
After paying for your ticket, you walk through a hall with animatronics - not as great as Disney but three year-olds don't know that.
Next comes a gallery with Schwarzwald (Black Forest) architecture. Signs are in German, English, and French. I didn't get to read much since I have to make sure my boys don't end up part of the exhibit.
Major cool feature - a room with a huge screen playing Winnie the Pooh (auf Deutsch) where kids can chill out while parents eat lunch or take a break in the next room (a window helps you make sure they're not dismantling the screen to take home as a souvenir).
Major creepy - this Little Red Riding Hood display is in the tiny entrance hall to the major cool movie screen.
The park also shows nature films every 30 minutes or so in an adjacent theatre.
After you've made it through the entrance building, it's time to see the animals! These little funky chunkies are marmots. We thought it was hilarious to see them chowing down on carrots with their big buck teeth.
And then we turned around and noticed a CARROT vending machine! Fifty euro cents for two. I'm still chuckling. I'm the only one. I know. It's okay.
This bad boy here is a reindeer. I asked him if he was on Santa's good list this year. He had no idea what I was talking about. Maybe he's fake.
Boars! These lucky ones escaped the destined-for-Aldi farms.
If I haven't said so yet (and I haven't), one of the best parts of this park is how close the animals are. This is Mr. T-Rex man right next to a big ol' buck.
And this is a European lynx. Though I was only 18 inches from him, he had no interest in my gigantic, manly, marathon-running calves. He was waaaay more interested in the female lounging in the adjacent cage.
Screech tried to break in to the deer pen. He hasn't turned all MacGyver on me yet, thank goodness.
Doc Sci was fascinated by this Red Deer buck. We watched him clean his points in this muddy puddle.
After you've gorged your eyes on the many amazing animals, it's time to feast on lunch. I propose two options other than the obvious park restaurants. To get to the first one, you'll have to check your stroller at the gate (it's a turnstile entrance), and hike 5 minutes up these crazy steps.
The reward? This amazing view of Feldberg. Please remember not to drool while you eat.
The other option is this playhouse, suspended above water, and accessed by a rope bridge. Or just an ordinary bridge, if you please. Note that it can be reserved for birthday parties in which case you'd have to decide whether or not the party was worth crashing.
Here is the aforementioned rope bridge. It looks like a doozy but my no-fear Screech went across just fine with a little help from Doc Sci.
Now that you've got a full stomach, it's time to hit up the playgrounds.
T-Rex made it to the top of his first rock climbing wall!
If you just. can't. take. the. heat. any. more. hit up this indoor playground for the under-8's.
And last, but not least, here's a budget-buster alert! The park is full of way awesome stuff like this WORKING digger. The catch? At 50 cents a pop, with two kids you could easily double your admission price.