8 Great Places to Experience Africa in North America

Here are some relatively wallet-friendly destinations to experience Africa without leaving North American that, while not being reasonable substitutions for visiting the Africa, might satisfy your Dark Continent craving.

In another article, I listed places in North America to experience Europe, European culture, and European food.

What if you want to experience Africa? Are you yearning to see wild animals or experience the culture and cuisine of Africa?

8 Great Places to Experience Africa in North America

1. Zoos and Theme Parks

Glimpse African wildlife without flying 18 hours and spending thousands per person, by visiting many US zoos. The Edge of Africa attraction at Busch Gardens Tampa will make your youngsters shriek in terror, or at least ooh and awww.

2. Disney’s Animal Kingdom

There are over 1,700 animals in Disney World’s Animal Kingdom, so you are guaranteed to see many African animals during your safari. If you stay in the Animal Kingdom Lodge, choose a savannah view room and a giraffe may peek into your balcony. For African cuisine, pop over to the Morocco pavilion at EPCOT for a shawarma.

3. Drive Through Safari

At Lion Country Safari in South Florida, and other drive through safaris, it is highly recommended that you rent one of their cars because the animals might cause severe damage to your vehicle. Try explaining THAT to your insurance agent.

lion standing on a car in Lion Country Safari
Lion Country Safari, photo courtesy of FloridaPast.com

4. New York City

Persons born in Africa make up 4% of New York City’s population, so there is plenty of African culture (especially NYC African restaurants) to find in the Big Apple. In addition to the United Nations and various consulates, other African organizations and events in New York City include: Africa Center, African Film Festival, Africa House at NYU, African Restaurant Week, International African Arts FestivalAfrican Day Parade, and several African art museums.

>>> See the McCool Travel article 8 Great Ways to Get Free Lodging in New York City

5. Washington, DC

In addition to housing many African embassies, Washington, D.C. has the second largest population of Ethiopians of any city in the world (including Ethiopia!) and, of course, has amazing Ethiopian cuisine. There are other Africa restaurants and the National Museum of African Art. DC also hosts African Fashion Week.

Ethiopian food truck in Washington, D.C.
experience Africa in North America: from a DC food truck

>>> See the McCool Travel article 8 Great Washington, DC Food Trucks

6. Kalahari Resort

Kalahari appears on many top 10 USA water parks lists and is mentioned here because their properties are 100% African themed. Before the third Kalahari Resort—in Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania—officially opened, I was fortunate to get an insider preview tour from Travis Nelson, the founder’s son.

Travis enthusiastically described his family’s trip to Africa to purchase authentic African art to adorn the new property and source Rwandan coffee for their cafe. Another member of the tour group told me, “I would never want to leave this place.” Yes, Kalahari is THAT nice.

authentic African door at Kalahari Resort
experience africa in North America: Kalahari Resort, Pocono Mountains

7. National Parks and Wildlife Areas

A grizzly bear or mountain lion can do as much damage to you as any member of the Big Five. Take an airboat ride in the Everglades and see several wild alligators and other animals. Children (and most adults) will be thrilled by the nightly spectacle of the bat parade in Austin, Texas. Check here for National Park free days.

wild alligator at Okefenokee Swamp
experience africa in North America: Alligator at Okefenokee Swamp
American Bison (buffalo) in grass field at Custer State Park
experience africa in North America: Bison, Custer State Park

8. Rescue Centers

At Safari Wilderness Ranch in Central Florida, visitors can view a wide range of African animals, including Defassa Waterbuck, Common Waterbuck, Red Lechwe, Ostrich, Livingstone Eland, Red Forest Buffalo, Wildebeest, Zebra, Camel, Warthog, Watusi, and Aoudad.

McCool Travel tip: take advantage of opportunities during your visit to feed llamas, Asian cattle, and lemurs.

>>> See the McCool Travel article Fun Things to do in Central Florida

By no means are these the only places to experience Africa in North America. Do you know of others?

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19 thoughts on “8 Great Places to Experience Africa in North America”

  1. The African Lion Safari in Hamilton, Ontario Canada felt very authentic and offered a bus you could ride in or you could drive in your own vehicle.

  2. Our African safaris in South Africa and Zambia were eye-opening experiences. We learned so much about animal behavior in the wild (we even witnessed a lion kill!). But they are expensive trips. And so your ideas give people a taste of what they might see and do if they visit Africa, and they’re a lot less pricey too :-).

  3. I thought the blog would only be about African animals in zoos; I love that you added culinary experiences and theme parks to the list as well. Museums are also a great place to experience Africa.

  4. I love this idea of experiencing different cultures at home in the USA. You’ve got a terrific list of experiences in North America that will give you a wonderful taste of Africa. Well done!

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