After spending several nights camping in Beverly Beach, we headed over to do some camping at KOA Lion Country Safari Florida. It was a relatively easy 4 hour drive as Florida is very flat.
Arriving for Camping at KOA Lion Country Safari Florida
As you pull into this kitsch style KOA, you immediately get the feeling of stepping back into seventies Florida, in a magical way. The winding road, full of palms and overflowing with wildly manicured green, feels like you could be entering an episode of Fantasy Island.
Like most KOA’s, you pull up to the office that also serves as a well stocked store. Here you find the check in area. With KOA check in in my experience is fast and friendly. There was an activity schedule posted, and there were area brochures available.
I have found that not all KOAs are consistent and that they offer a varying degree of services. Some KOAs begin texting you upon arrival, sharing activities and updates for the campground during your stay. Others offer delivery services from their store or restaurant to your campsite. Sometimes there is a KOA employee on a golf cart that you follow to your camp site. Often they help guide you while parking.
This KOA took a more hands off approach. The woman was very friendly, squared away our payment, and handed us a map with our site number.
The Campground – Camping at KOA Lion Country Safari Florida
Keeping with the “Old Florida” charm, this campground fluctuated between kitschy and unkempt.
Atmosphere Camping at KOA Lion Country Safari Florida
The atmosphere of this KOA is unique in that many people come here for extended stays. Some campers indicated that they return each year. It felt like a neighborhood of sorts, where people knew each other. For example, there was a morning water aerobics class in the pool. It appeared to be a regular activity for a group of older patrons who chitchatted as they were drying off. I noticed many license plates from Canada, so perhaps people “winter” here in Florida. The overall feeling is laidback, friendly, and welcoming.
Unfortunately during some campers’ longterm stays, their sites expanded to include netted tents, equipment, and various stuff; Most of which was prohibited by the posted rules. I think that this is what caused the campground to feel a bit unruly. It was not that feeling of people living in a trailer park environment in a campground, but more that campers were just untidy.
The campground is relatively large and extends to the edges of the adjacent Lion Country Safari Park.
Amenities while Camping at KOA Lion Country Safari Florida
The amenities offered while camping at KOA Lion Country Safari were very nice and plentiful. I see why people like to stay for extended periods.
There is a resort-size pool behind the office that has a variety of seating options. The pool is clean and the area surrounding it is very pleasant. Also in the office building is the store. It sells a variety of food and drinks, including beer, in case there is something you forgot. It also has useful items from hoses to paper goods and toiletries.
There are also some activities such as shuffle board, basketball, volleyball, and a playground, scattered around the property. There is also a dog park if you are traveling with a pet. The wifi is free. It has a strong signal, so it is easy to work, watch a show, or post on social media.
The campground at the KOA Lion Country Safari perhaps feels a little worn in places. I think the feeling comes mostly from the patches of dead grass and dirt. Sites seem to be scattered somewhat sporadically with a few trees here and there. Most of the site privacy comes from all of the parked cars perpendicular to most sites. Most of the sites do have a good amount of space in between them.
From the sites that are located closer to the park’s perimeter, you can enjoy the wild green vegetation that you are met with at the park’s entrance, as it surrounds the campground. This scenery is enchanting. I personally wish it extended to all of the sites. The sites like ours, off to the side, or ones in the middle, did not enjoy the lushness and felt barren.
All campsites in this park appear to have full hookups. Each site has a concrete patio area and a picnic table, which was very functional and nice. The campground is very flat and most sites seem level. Each site has grass, but it is in varying states of growth with bare dirt patches. Trash was not collected, so you need to take it to one of the dumpsters located within the property. The wifi was free and functioned extremely well.
To me, this campground does not have a “parking lot” feel, but at the same time, does not quite offer the serene “I’m in nature” setting either. Overall, the landscape on the outskirts, combined with the kitschy buildings and adjacent safari park, conjures a sense of laid back old school fun.
*Tip: Many Florida campsites do not offer fire rings. The only way you are permitted to have a campfire is in a fire pit like this, (which you must supply yourself). It must be elevated off the ground and have a lid. Also, we brought environmentally friendly, man made long burning “logs” like these – the type you purchase wrapped in paper. Many sites do not permit the burning of wood.
Our campsite had a man next door with a large tent set up near his trailer and adjacent there was a small private building that was used by KOA personnel. So, by no stretch of the imagination was the site a beautiful setting. While the overall park reflected a bit of the wild nature of the KOA entrance, our site was in contrast.
While we really enjoyed our activities at Lion Country Safari, the proximity to it, and the kitschy community areas, our site itself was nothing special. It did have well functioning water, sewer, and power. The site’s picnic table was in good shape. I especially enjoyed the concrete slab patio that our site had. It was level, and easy to set up chairs and a projector to enjoy the Super Bowl game.
We had purchased this really cool, inexpensive projector so we could watch movies outside in the evening. Since it was Super Bowl, we projected the game on the side of our trailer and watched by the fire. This is a super fun camping activity that I highly recommend. Whenever we project a movie, passersby immediately stop to comment and sneak a peak.
Sounds of Safari
While our site was not very visually pleasing due to longterm neighbors with tents and an abundance of stuff, it was interesting to be backed up to the animal reserve. At various times of the day/evening, you can hear the lions roar as you sit by the campfire! These sounds are unique to this KOA and bring a surreal element to your camping experience here. It definitely contributes to the fun.
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Top Reasons to Camp at Lion Country Safari
To my understanding, the West Palm Beach KOA and Lion Country Safari share the same owners. The KOA and Lion Country Safari are literally right next door to each other.
This is beneficial for several reasons:
- First and foremost, it is amazing to hear the thunderous roar of the lions from your campsite.
- Visiting Lion Country Safari
- You receive a generous discount to Lion Country Safari as a camping guest of the KOA; Just buy your tickets in the KOA office.
- The proximity to the entrance of Lion Country Safari from the campground is literally about 2 minutes by car, if that.
- A paid Lion Country Safari Ticket allows you to come and go all day from the park, so you can return to the campsite for a break, a swim, lunch, etc. and easily go back and forth.
- Friendly KOA
- Kitschy Florida Experience
- Nice swimming pool
Visit Lion Country Safari
About the Lion Country Safari Park
The park continued the kitschy “old Florida” theme of the KOA, in terms of its attractions, style, aesthetics and landscaping. Lion Country Safari dates from 1969.
The Park’s Animals
While I am not a fan of caging wild animals, Lion Country Safari is quite impressive. It was really fun and educational.
The animals are in habitats created to simulate their natural environments, and mostly roam freely. Apparently Dr. Jane Goodall has visited several times to observe the primate population in this park. She, along with the staff, implement techniques to elevate the animals mental and physical health, diet, and environment.
The reserve provides brain activities such as toys and natural elements for the animals to scratch, swim, play, and interact. They also work to give the animals physical stimulation.
We visited on Valentine’s Day. Most animals in both the safari and park, big and small, had appropriate Valentine treats. For example, parrots had heart shaped feeding treats and other habitats had colorful Valentine displays.
Lion Country Safari has a vibe of observation, education, and raising money to support the animals’ wellbeing.
Your Visit to Lion Country Safari
There are 2 parts of the Lion Country Safari Park; 1 is a drive through Safari, and the other is a small, well landscaped park that you can walk around.
Drive through Safari
The primary attraction is the drive through Safari and this alone is well worth a visit. You drive your own vehicle through a clearly marked paved trail. The winding road takes you through various animal habitats.
Upon entry, you are provided a map that shows you the animals in residence. It guides you as you slowly cruise through each of the 7 clearly marked sections of the refuge. Additionally there is a phone app that you can play as you drive. It provides information along the way about the animals and the park.
The safari is really well done. You are welcome to take your time and pull over most anywhere along the route to observe the animals. You must drive extremely slowly. Whether it’s crowded or not, this Safari will take 1 to 2.5 hours, depending on how many times you pull over.
*Note that this Safari takes place completely inside your own vehicle and you must drive. There is no option of walking or cycling for the safety of the animals and yourself. As a matter of fact, you must remain in your vehicle at all times with all windows and Roofs securely closed.
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Tip: Since you are permitted to drive through as many times as you like in one day, try going through early in the morning and then returning late in the afternoon (allowing yourself enough time prior to closing of course). Animals definitely have different behavior patterns at various times of the day, depending on heat, feeding, etc., so you will have a new and different experience each time you go through.
The Lion Country Safari Walking Park
The park area that you visit by walking, has a free parking lot adjacent to it. Approaching the park, you will find the same old style Florida, wild yet maintained landscaping, as the KOA.
Within the park it is more manicured, like a secret garden, and contains paths to meander. You will find kitschy wild animal sculptures tucked into greenery. There are areas painted with fun activities for kids such as hopscotch. There is also a lake reminiscent of the Everglades.
Other Lion Country Safari Park Attractions
There is a boat ride on the little lake, included in your ticket that takes you around monkey island. I am sure the captain offers information on the animals and park. Unfortunately the boat was closed due to weather the day I visited.
There are also several animal exhibits set up like an outdoor zoo, a few children’s rides, mini golf, a seasonal splash pad, other fun attractions, souvenir stores, and some snack shops.
After spending hours in the park, it is especially nice to drive only 2 minutes back to your campsite, where you can relax, barbecue, and listen to the sounds of the wild.
All in all, I highly recommend this entire experience from camping to the Lion Country Safari.
Additional Nearby Attractions to Visit while Camping at KOA Lion Country Safari Florida
There are so many fun activities nearby this KOA! It is no wonder people stay for an extended amount of time. If you have a few days or more, don’t miss these awesome experiences:
- Kayak down the wild and scenic Loxahatchee River on this professionally guided tour
- Take this 2.5 hour off the beaten path walking food tour of West Palm Beach and experience some of the best key lime pie!
- Up for an adventure, literally? Soar over Palm Beach on this parasailing experience
- Set sail on this 2.5 hour narrated historical tour of Jupiter and see houses of the rich and famous on Jupiter Island
- Immerse yourself in all things candy on this 45 minute West Palm Beach evolution of candy sampling tour
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