The N.C. Zoological Park (www.nczoo.org), 75 miles northeast of Charlotte in Asheboro, is billed as the largest walk-through natural-habitat zoo and home to the largest population of chimps in the country. Its focus is on North America and Africa. Bison and elk roam an 11-acre prairie; the American area also houses polar bears, gators and everything in between. Of special note is the indoor Sonoran Desert, with animals and plants of the Southwestern deserts.
Impala and other antelope ply the 37-acre African Plains. Nearby: giraffes, elephants, lions, warthogs and more.
Whats new? Dinosaurs. Through September,15 enormous animatronic beasts (including a T. rex), in a special exhibit adjoining the North America area. Dinosaurs are also the stars of the nearby, 40-seat 4-D Adventure Theatre.
Bring your binoculars and wear comfortable shoes youll be outdoors most of the day. Use trails or trams to get around. Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily through October; until 4 p.m. daily November-March. $12; $8 for kids. Combo pass ($18, $14 for kids) required for dinosaur exhibit and movie.