Into the Wild(s)
Last fall I was looking for a unique way to celebrate my anniversary with my husband. We both love animals, tasty food and being pampered, so Nomad Ridge at The Wilds quickly rose to the top of my list.
The Wilds has long been known as an innovative animal conservation center offering tours, but its adults-only overnight ‘glamping’ (glamorous camping) opportunity just opened in 2009. Guests can stay in one of nine yurts–complete with bamboo floors, luxury bathrooms and beds, and private decks–nestled into the hillside overlooking the animals. In addition to lodging, the package includes dinner and breakfast prepared by the on-site chef, access to a 24-hour concierge, and two Safari Transport Tour tickets.
Needless to say, my husband had no clue about The Wilds or Nomad Ridge when we drove about an hour east of Columbus for a romantic weekend getaway. It was supposed to be a surprise, but I revealed to him that day that we were going camping (something we’ve never done). When we pulled up to the rural site, bug spray and s’more ingredients in tow, he was pleasantly surprised that our home for the night wasn’t a tent with sleeping bags. The yurt was breathtaking, and the view was even better.
The binoculars we packed came in handy right away, as we could see (and hear) Pere David’s Deer right from our yurt’s deck. We used them again on a short walk to the Overlook Café for dinner, where we could see the Masai Giraffe and a herd of bison. After watching the sunset, we finished the evening around the fire pit on the massive shared deck at Nomad Ridge, where the on-site concierge brought us drinks (not included in the package fee). We chatted with the other out-of-town guests–some coming from other states–while enjoying our s’mores.
The next morning, after breakfast, we set out on an Open-Air Safari tour (which runs every half hour). Our guide drove us around the grounds for approximately two hours, adding interesting facts and stopping frequently to allow guests to take photos. All of the animals roam free in natural, open-range habitats except for the carnivores–which are segmented for obvious reasons. One of my favorite parts of the Mid-Sized Carnivore Conservation Center was watching the cheetahs during feeding time.
If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind spot to take your significant other, definitely check out Nomad Ridge. Even if you can’t take advantage of the overnight, swing by for a tour (most run at least every half hour May through October and do not require reservations). Just be sure to bring your binoculars and your camera. It’s an experience you won’t forget!
What are your favorite romantic (and exotic) Ohio getaways?