Whether you’re a dog person or a cat person, or you relish the thrill of seeing wildlife in its natural habitat, there are plenty of ways to combine your passion for animals with a vacation at home or around the world.
A visit to the American Kennel Club’s Museum of the Dog, in New York City, is a chance to become immersed in all things canine. You’ll find an extensive collection of artwork, as well as trophies and other dog-related memorabilia in the museum’s permanent collection. Interactive displays let you explore different breeds and learn about the many types of working dogs, from law enforcement to therapy to service animals.
Afterward, you can head to Central Park to see the bronze statue of Balto, the sled dog who braved a blizzard to deliver medicine to the children of Nome, Alaska, in 1925.
If you’re a cat fancier who’s planning a trip to Europe, there are some small, charming museums that you may want to add to your itinerary.
Amsterdam’s Cat Cabinet traces its origin to a Dutchman who wanted to honor the memory of his beloved pet, named after the American financier J.P. Morgan. The museum, located in a 17th-century canal house, offers a look at the role of cats in art and culture, including posters, sculptures and photography.
The German city of Ludwigshafen, on the Rhine River about an hour from Frankfurt, is home to the Katzinett cat museum, a whimsical place devoted to cat-themed artwork.
A safari will give you an awe-inspiring look at the variety of Africa’s wildlife. South Africa’s Kruger National Park is one of the best places on the continent to view the Big Five: lions, leopards, elephants, Cape buffalo and rhinoceros.
In Kenya and Tanzania, you can witness one of the world’s most remarkable sights — the Great Migration of hundreds of thousands of wildebeest, gazelles and zebras in search of food and water. The best time to go is between July and October.
The Central American nation of Costa Rica is a leader in ecological tourism, giving visitors a chance to see the natural world in unspoiled surroundings. One such place is the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, a mountain rainforest filled with hundreds of species of plant and animal life.
The country is also home to nesting beaches for sea turtles. Conservation groups offer a look at the work they’re doing to preserve these endangered marine animals, as well as volunteer opportunities.
Closer to home, the United States has wildlife refuges from coast to coast. One of the oldest, St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, is about an hour from Tallahassee, Florida. Whenever you go, you’ll see diverse plant and animal life.
In January, you’ll find waterfowl, otters and bobcats, as well as nesting eagles. In February, heron and bluebirds begin nesting. In March, spring migration begins and alligators will be basking in the sun.