Safari Adventure at Lazy 5 Ranch


Mooresville calls itself Race City USA, but amid all the NASCAR team shops and attractions such as the North Carolina Auto Racing Hall of Fame, lives something a little bit wild. It's the Lazy 5 Ranch, which is an ideal place for a quick and fun safari with the kids.

The ranch is a privately owned animal habitat that offers visitors a 3.5-mile trek where you will see animals from six different continents. Zebras, giraffes, camels, llamas, deer, bison and many other creatures make up the 750 animals on the property.

Located just off Highway 150 East near Mooresville, the Lazy 5 Ranch allows folks to either drive their own cars through the park or take a horse-drawn wagon ride. Both options allow children to get up close and personal with the ranch's collection of exotic animals.

Henry Hampton is the owner of the ranch and has worked with exotic animals for more than 35 years. Before opening Lazy 5 in 1993, Hampton allowed school groups to come to his property and see his animals. Soon, he realized that the park could have a great deal of interest to the public.

In addition to being a habitat for exotic animals, the Lazy 5 Ranch is also host to a number of endangered species such as the Ring-tailed lemur and a Grevy's zebra.

But the real appeal of the ranch is that it gives a child the ability to interact with animals from all over the world. You'll have to make a reservation, and spend a few extra dollars, for the wagon rides, but it's well worth it. It's an old-fashioned hayride through an exotic animal habitat. On the ride, a guide will take you through the ranch and get you close enough to feed and pet many of the animals. There aren't many places in the Southeast where your child will be able to give a handful of feed to a giraffe and rub its nose while it grazes.

The ranch also has areas where visitors can walk about and see smaller farm animals such as goats and pigs. Like the larger creatures, these animals live in their own preserve and can be observed in a more natural setting.

Since its opening, the park has grown into an ideal destination for parents and children. In addition to wagon rides through the park, the Lazy 5 Ranch has several other attractions on-site. There is a blacksmith's shop next to a 100-year-old horse barn, which is part of the original property from when it was an agricultural farm. There are ample areas for picnicking and a large playground area with a kid-size replica of Noah's Ark.

If you have an animal-obsessed child with a birthday on the horizon, you might want to consider the Lazy 5. The ranch offers a variety of birthday party packages for smaller groups of 8 or larger gatherings of 15 or more. Each package features a ride around the ranch on a horse-drawn wagon and a bucket of feed to give the animals. The ranch can also accommodate larger gatherings under a big-top-like tent.

If You Go
Lazy 5 Ranch
15100 Hwy 150 East

Hours: Monday-Saturday 9 a.m. until one hour before sunset
Sunday 1 p.m. until one hour before sunset
Admission: Adults $8.50 - Add $5 for wagon ride
Children (2-11) $5.50 - $3 for wagon ride
Children under 2 are free
Seniors $5.50 - $3 for wagon ride

Michael Huie is a Winston-Salem freelance writer and father of one.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Content

8 Scenic Drives in North Carolina for Families

North Carolina is home to many scenic routes for families who enjoy road-tripping.

Family-Friendly Fall Festivals in North Carolina

Venture out of town for a day trip or weekend getaway to enjoy one or more of the state's best fests.

Kid-Friendly Music Festivals in the Carolinas

Regional music festivals offer fun for the whole family.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Newsletter Sign-Up

Stay connected to what's going on for kids and families in the Triad by signing up for our FREE e-newsletters!


Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Annual Guides

Education Guide

The all-new 2015-2016 Education Guide is packed with everything parents need to know to navigate more than 500 education options and resources in the Triad, including area preschools, private schools, public school systems, charter schools, boarding schools and academic resources.

GPS [Go. Play. See]

It's your complete family guide to Triad living. Parents are busy and on the go. Use this guide to help you explore all this great area offers for families in Winston-Salem, Greensboro, High Point and surrounding communities.

Exceptional Child

For parents of kids with special needs, finding help and support can be challenging. We've compiled valuable resources for Triad parents in our latest annual publication, Exceptional Child, which is also available as a digital guide.