We were trying to come up with places that wouldn’t require a lot of driving since we would only be taking 2 days off from work.
Tip: If you plan on visiting, you must book your tickets weeks in advance.
So, we settled on our second choice, the Ark Encounter.
If you have children 10 and younger, you will be pleased to know that the entrance fee to the Ark is free for the 2021 season!
I will say, that when I went online to buy tickets for the zoo , they had implemented a reservation system due to Covid. The earliest available entrance time was 2:00 pm so, I went ahead and purchased the tickets even though they closed at 5.
The tickets were $22.50 each. We also prepaid for parking which was $10. When you purchase your tickets online, you will also have to pay a $3 convenience fee.
Tip: There’s a huge parking lot very close to the Zoo where you didn’t have to pay to park.
We booked a room at the SpringHill Suites by Marriott as it was centrally located for visiting both the Ark & the Zoo.
Read reviews here
The hotel was located 35 mins from the Ark and 25 mins from the Zoo in the town of Florence, KY.
We left on a Thursday morning and came home on Sunday…the drive to our hotel was approx. 3.5 hrs from our home.
After having breakfast at a local restaurant, we headed to our hotel.
We arrived around 2:00 pm and checked into our room.
The room was very clean and spacious and had the best shower I’ve ever seen in a hotel room!
There was a spacious seating area and the couch had a bed that pulled out from underneath it.
The room also had two separate sinks..one in the bathroom and one near the shower.
After spending a few hours just relaxing, we headed out to dinner.
We found a place online called Bj’s.
The restaurant had a wide variety of foods and had a gluten free menu…Yay me!
I ordered a hamburger with sweet potato fries and my hubby ordered the french dip with fries. The food was average but their gluten free chocolate chip cookie was delicious!!
After dinner, we headed back to the hotel and called it a night.
The next day, we slept in since we already had our tickets to the Ark and could arrive at anytime.
After getting up & having our coffee, we headed out to have lunch at a nearby Rafferty’s.
After lunch, we headed to the Ark.
Once you arrive, you drive into the parking lot and will have to pay to park.
After parking, you will have to show your tickets to one of the employees who will then give you a wristband. You will then board the shuttle bus to be taken to the Ark. The drive takes about 5 mins.
Once you arrive, you can head straight to the Ark or go zip lining, head to the small zoo, go eat at one the restaurants, go to the gift shop, take a camel ride or take your children to the huge play ground!
Click here to see all of the activities that are offered at the Ark
After exiting the bus, you enter a huge building where you will find a gift shop, coffee shop, food items, restrooms & a huge theater where they have an itinerary of activities throughout the day.
The day we visited, the founder of the Ark, Ken Ham was going to be speaking but we missed it.
After walking around for a few minutes, we exited the building and headed to the Ark.
At 510 ft long, the $100 million pine-clad Noah’s Ark replica is the largest pine framed structure in the world!
The Ark Encounter was engineered and built using exact biblical measurements, requiring over 3.3 million board feet of timber to construct it, and fitting over 16,000 people simultaneously.
The Ark features museum-like exhibits, displays of Noah’s family, and lifelike models of animals – existing in pairs and in compartments just like the Bible described.
I liked how they depicted some of the animals arriving in pairs
Walking along the sidewalk to the Ark
We headed into the Ark entrance
A shot of the interior map – there are 3 floors to explore.
There were lots of exhibits & information plaques that explained the construction of the Ark & the days of Noah.
The Ark mainly consisted of compartments that held animals, food, water sources, etc.
The models of Noah & his family were very lifelike!
The animals looked very real as well!
A model of the Ark
It took 2 years to build the Ark (6 years from contract date to completion).
There was a ton of research & work that went into building the Ark. They have short films you can watch that show how they made the animals ….it was amazing!
The models even moved and talked
A replica of the door to the Ark where the animals would have entered.
On each floor, they have restrooms, snacks & drinks.
The living quarters on the boat
They had a small museum of Bibles inside the Ark – some were from the 1500’s!
Hudson Taylor’s chair…he was a British missionary who spent 51 years in China. The society that he began was responsible for bringing over 800 missionaries to the country who started 125 schools and directly resulted in 18,000 Christian conversions.
One important scripture to remember
A shot of the outside map
Such an amazing structure!
We decided to order a coffee from Kezia’s Coffee and it was so good!
We then exited the Ark and headed to the small zoo.
Shots of the Ark
During your stroll through the zoo, you will encounter mammals, birds, reptiles, a petting zoo, animal shows, camel rides & a kangaroo walkabout.
The first animal we came to was the Aoudad…I couldn’t get a good shot due to the chain linked fence.
We spotted the camels but they weren’t doing the camel rides when we visited….they had at least 5 camels.
They also had a HUGE Dromedary Camel…these types of camels can weigh up to 1500 lbs!
The Zorse – it’s a cross between a zebra and a horse.
So, we decided to walk around the outside a bit longer.
More shots of the Ark
Shots of the playground
A shot of a menu from one of the restaurants
A few more shots of the Ark
After leaving the Ark, we headed to a nearby restaurant called Beans Cafe & Bakery to have dinner.
They mostly had sandwiches but they also offered soups, salads and wraps….they also had gluten free bread and desserts! Yay me again!
They also serve breakfast, homemade baked goods like donuts, cookies & bread, coffee, hand dipped ice cream, shakes & other desserts.
Read reviews here
I ordered the bacon cheddar chicken sandwich with soup and my hubby ordered the Reuben w/ chips. You also get a baked treat of the day w/ your order as well as a pickle spear.
The food was delicious!! and they gave me a gluten free cookie with my order! Yum!
After eating, we headed back to the hotel and called it a night.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for day 2 at the Zoo!
Click here for more things to see/do in the area.