Best Zoo (2001)
Fossil Rim Wildlife Center
For the chance to rub noses with a zebra (literally) and gaze into the vacant eyes of an ostrich, we choose Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose. It's not exactly a zoo. Few of the animals are in cages, and you drive safarilike to each zone of the 1,500-acre wildlife park, slowing down for elands and aoudads. Even the most jaded urchins are fascinated by it; you can open the windows or sun roof and let them immerse themselves in the animal kingdom. You won't get closer to the animals anywhere else in the region. Halfway through your self-guided excursion, which takes 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours (guided tours are also available for an additional fee), you'll find a café on a steep hill offering a lovely view of the park. It serves excellent charbroiled hamburgers, and beside it is a large, well-stocked gift shop. Fossil Rim has a few minor drawbacks. It's light on predators, since they can't exactly allow the cheetahs to roam among the wildebeest, and you won't see lesser life forms such as amphibians, reptiles and fish. But Fossil Rim's an easy pick over the popular Fort Worth Zoo, where every elephant turd has a corporate sponsor, and the Dallas Zoo, which gets demerit points for its policy of gassing the chicks in the petting zoo when they're not young and cute anymore. Fossil Rim's a 90-minute drive from downtown Dallas, but you'll be glad you took the time.