Places near Stuttgart to get your animal fix…

I usually update my blog on the weekends, but we are going to Italy for the Labor Day holiday and I may be indisposed.  Aside from that, my husband is on his way back to Germany today and I’m trying to keep busy.  With that in mind, I thought I’d write a post for those looking for local places to visit animals.  A few of my suggestions may be well-known or even obvious, but I hope to surprise a few people with something unexpected.  I don’t have children, but I think it’s safe to say that all of these places are kid friendly.

I’m going to list these in no particular order.  We visited each place at least once and you can search the blog for my reviews.  Here goes…

Wilhelma Zoological and Botanical Park- Stuttgart

I might as well start with the obvious, Wilhelma Zoo, which is located in the Bad Canstatt area of Stuttgart.  I went there for the second time a couple of weeks ago and had a pretty good time visiting the animals.  Some people seem to think this zoo is outdated and poorly maintained.  Although I know there are better zoos out there, I had a good time visiting the one in Stuttgart.  It does get crowded and, at 16 euros per adult, is probably the most expensive choice on my list.  But I have to include it because obviously, you’d go to a zoo to see animals, right?  And this zoo includes plants, an aquarium, a petting area, and access to a public park, as well as a pretty cool insect exhibit.  You can spend a few hours at the zoo and still not see it all.  It does get crowded on nice days, but I think it’s worth a visit, if only to make you appreciate some of the other choices.  Public transportation is a snap, since there’s a station right outside the main gate.  Also, the sea lions are fun to watch!

I think s/he stole the show!

Tierpark NymphaeaEsslingen

Germany has what they call “Tierparks” (animal parks).  They’re basically like small zoos that are more kid focused.  So far, we’ve visited two of them and at both parks, it was easy to pet and feed some of the animals.  We visited Tierpark Nymphaea a couple of weeks ago, mainly because I’d repeatedly heard it was a nice place to take kids.  Although the animals at the park were not particularly exotic, it was a lot of fun to feed and pet the donkeys and goats.  And you can also feed the ducks and deer and look at all of the other animals who live at the park.  Tierpark Nymphaea offers a nice, stroller friendly trail around a large, attractive lake and a number of interesting exhibits. Afterwards, your kids can play while you enjoy a beer in the Biergarten.

A very persistent goat begs for popcorn.


Der Kleine Tierpark Göppingen- Göppingen


Speaking of Tierparks, we visited one last year in the town of Göppingen, a city east of Stuttgart, kind of on the way to Ulm.  To be honest, I’m not sure where I first heard about this park.  I do have a German friend from Göppingen, but although she is an animal lover, she’s not a mom and she currently lives in North Carolina.  This park, compared to Tierpark Nymphaea, is a bit smaller.  However, there is a wider variety of animals at this park, including camels and monkeys.  I’m not sure I’d necessarily advise a road trip there unless you’re already in the neighborhood, but I did enjoy meeting their friendly camels and goats, who are pros at scoring food.

What, me worry?

Wildpark Pforzheim- Pforzheim

Of all of the animal friendly places I’m going to list today, Wildpark Pforzheim is probably my favorite.  This is a huge park in the Black Forest where you only pay to park and buy some food.  Then, you and your little ones can scurry around the park mingling with deer, elk, Highland cows, mini horses, owls, donkeys, and many other friendly animals looking for a handout.  Seriously… this is a great park.  Not only is there a huge array of animals to be visited, there’s also a ropes course and playground equipment.  You could easily spend several hours here, enjoying the many exhibits and burning energy.  Highly recommended!

A wild cat on the prowl!  This is one of the animals you aren’t allowed to feed!


Alternativer Wolf und Bärenpark Schwarzwald- Bad Rippoldsau-Sheppach


This small park in the Black Forest hamlet of Bad Rippoldsau-Sheppach is home to bears, wolves, and lynxes.  Many of the animals at this sanctuary were once circus performers or zoo animals.  This isn’t really like a Tierpark or a zoo; it’s really more of a place where these animals can live out their lives in peace.  In 1996, I visited Bulgaria and, in those days, many Roma people were making money with “dancing bears”.  These bears had been trained to “dance” via cruel methods involving pain and heat.  Since I had actually witnessed cruelty toward bears in Bulgaria, I was very glad to see that the animals at this park in Germany have such a nice home out in the forest.  Although this is a small park and doesn’t take long to visit, it can be combined with a number of other activities in the area.

One of the more social wolves at the park.

Monkey Hill-Affenberg Salem  

If you prefer feeding monkeys, you can venture to Monkey Hill, a really cool park near Lake Constance, maybe 90 minutes or so south of Stuttgart.  Those who have been to Monkey Mountain in Kintzheim, France, may already be familiar with the concept.  That’s because both parks, as well as another one in France and one in Great Britain, are owned by the same people.  At this park, you walk around a loop and offer popcorn to docile monkeys who gently take it from you.  Although you aren’t allowed to pet the monkeys, it is fun to feed them.  Some will practically mug for the camera as they take popcorn from you.  This is probably my second favorite animal activity on the list.

Sweet family portrait… not of my family, mind you.

Fischzucht Zordel- Neuenbürg/Eyachtal

And finally, here’s a place where you can feed fish… and they can feed you.  This fish farm near Pforzheim appears to be a very kid friendly activity.  You or your kids can feed the fish, then have a nice lunch of fresh or smoked trout.  I’ll leave it up to parents to decide if they want to tell their children what will happen to the fish they feed.  Still, it’s a lot of fun and, if you like fish, you can get some very fresh trout here.

Fish waiting to be fed and harvested.


I know I’m probably leaving off some places, but these are the places I have been to and can evaluate based on personal experience.  I figure this list will give people a good start for the time being.  Frankly, for my money, the Wildpark Pforzheim is the best of the lot, offering the most fun for the euro.  I hope you’ll visit and let me know if you agree!


Beautiful Burgbach Wasserfall, and lunch at the Klösterle Hof!

A few weeks ago, after Bill and I visited Glaswaldsee in Bad Rippoldsau, I read up on what else was in the area.  I learned that the tiny spa town, also home to the wolf and bear park, is also where there are splendid waterfalls and hiking trails.  In fact, Bad Rippoldsau is not only beautiful, but one could spend a whole weekend busy with things to do in nature.  And if it’s too rainy, there are spas to visit in nearby Bad Peterstal-Griesbach and a glass blowing factory in nearby Wolfach.  Once again, I am reminded of why I really like where we live, for Unterjettingen is just on the edge of the Black Forest, where there are plenty of cool things to do.

Today, while everybody else was watching Prince Harry and Meghan Markle getting married, I had tentative plans to visit two waterfalls.  We only made it to one, the Burgbach Wasserfall, which is very close to both Glaswaldsee and the wolf and bear park.  After reading up on the official info, which is in the first link in this paragraph, I read a more personal account of visiting the waterfall.  A very helpful guy who lives in The Netherlands wrote up his experience hiking around the falls.

Bill was a little worried there would be rain today, but we had perfect weather, at least while we were actually hiking.  There is a large, free parking lot on the side of the road, where there is a map showing where the falls are.  The waterfall can be accessed by two trails.  One is .8km, but a bit steep.  The longer one is about twice as long, but a bit more gradual.  We took the short hike to the falls and the longer trail back.  I think that’s the better way to do it, especially if you’re in crappy physical shape like I am.  The .8km trail is a bit steeper, but it’s shorter.  You still have to walk up hills on the longer trail.  The hills aren’t as intense, but they take longer to climb.  I do recommend taking the longer trail back, because it’s a very beautiful walk.  In fact, we even saw a family with their young boy riding his bike and the mom pushing a stroller.  That’s pretty hard core!

Below are some photos from today’s hike to the waterfall.  Afterwards, we had a marvelous lunch, on which I will report after the photos!

The helpful map.  There is also a picnic table near this map, though we also saw people eating lunch by the falls.  Bear in mind that it’s a wild area, so there are no trash cans or other facilities at the falls.  There are also no admissions fees!


The first glimpse of the creek…


We’re in the right place.  We took the road in the photo.  We could have also turned right onto another road which allows a longer hike to the falls.  The longer way appears to be easier, but it’s kind of deceptive.  The hills aren’t quite as steep, but they last longer.

The area is full of beautiful wildflowers.  I don’t think I quite did them justice with my camera.


Helpful signs show you where to go.

Peaceful creek…


In the distance, I spotted what appeared to be a burg on the mountain.  To get to the waterfall on the shortest route, you pass through a neighborhood.  It appeared that they had a trout farm there, though I can’t swear to it.



I stopped on the trail to take a photo.  There are some beautiful views.


Our first glimpse of the falls.  There were a few other people there and some who had braved a walk up to the burg we spotted on the way into the woods.


Near the base of the falls.

I think it was worth the trip… the falls are very photogenic and not too hard to get to, even if you’re not in great shape.

After a quick pit stop, Bill and I headed back down the long way.  


Der Burgbachfelsen…

Glad I had a zoom lens.

This is what the road looked like most of the way down.  However, we made the mistake of going all the way back to the highway.  I would not advise doing that, especially if you have children or are in any way mobility challenged.  There isn’t much of a walkway by the road and it gets very busy with scary bikers and speeding cars.  There is another, well-marked trail on the gravel road before you get to where the traffic is.  That’s probably the one you’d want to take, rather than trying to walk by the highway.  However, because we didn’t take that trail ourselves, I can’t swear to the accuracy of my advice.

Stop and enjoy the views!

That’s a wrap!

This was on the walk back, which was pretty scary due to no sidewalk or trail.  However, I did get a few shots of the wildflowers. 

The restaurant where we had lunch was at a hotel called the Klösterle Hof, which is the site of an old monastery.  Bill and I had noticed it the first time we visited the area, but didn’t happen to be there at a time when it was open.  Today, we had no problem getting a table, even though there was a wedding going on at the huge church next door.  There are a couple of other restaurants near this hotel, but I had read about the hotel restaurant and noticed the stellar reviews.  Having eaten there today, I can add my own stellar review.  We really enjoyed our lunch, even though we got caught by a rainstorm.

We sat outside at first, along with a large group of bikers and another couple.

A very kind waitress, who appeared to be working alone, brought us wine and water.  I loved the little wine barrel pitchers the wines came in.  I had a riesling and Bill had a gray burgundy.  Both were local and very good.  The riesling tasted of limes, while the gray burgundy had a honey essence.

We ordered our food and waited a bit, but the sky began to darken right after the church bells stopped ringing for the wedding.  Our waitress kindly opened a previously closed dining room for us, since all of the inside tables were taken.

It was very quaint and comfortable. 

Bill ordered the fresh trout, which probably came from a very local source.  It was grilled with lemon and served with a green salad and parsleyed potatoes.

I had Seeteufel medallions (a dense white fish– kind of like catfish without the dirt flavor) with white asparagus and Hollandaise sauce… as well as the aforementioned potatoes.

This sauce was the real deal.  No blender cheats with this one!

And a nice table full of digestives, of which we did not partake.  Our bill was about 62 euros and well worth the expense.  I felt great after lunch– not too stuffed and like I’d eaten really high quality food.


While we were eating, a group of gentlemen from the wedding showed up.  If I had to guess, I’d say they might have been part of a band.  They came in, had a round of beer, and headed to the church.  We saw them all waiting on the front stoop as we drove past on the way home.

The outside of the restaurant and hotel as it was pouring rain.  There was no rain once we got over the mountain toward Freudenstadt.  Had it not rained, we might have tried to visit the other waterfall I read about.  As it is, we’ll save that one for another day.  I would love to go back to the restaurant and try the Black Forest ham, which I noticed the lady sitting next to us having.  It smelled wonderful.

A trippy photo I took as we drove through the misty mountains.  I love visiting the Bad Rippoldsau area.  It feels like a mini vacation.

 Below are a few more photos of Burgbach Wasserfall I took with my digital camera.  I’m really glad we visited.  The falls are beautiful and, at least today, not nearly as crowded as some of the other waterfalls we’ve visited.  I would highly recommend a trip there, especially if you’re looking for something different and cheap to do.


Gasping my guts out on the way to Glaswaldsee…

Today was another beautiful day here in southern Germany.  Despite that, I gave some serious thought to staying in and being lazy.  Fortunately, Bill decided he wanted to go out and see something new.  It wasn’t too hard to convince me, since the sun was out and the temperatures were so agreeable.  Plus, there was a place I had in mind to see.

Last month, Bill and I visited the Bärenpark, which I had discovered on our February trip to the Dorotheenhütte (glass blowing factory) in Wolfach.  As we were leaving the bear park, I noticed a sign for a place called Glaswaldsee.  My rudimentary German skills told me that Glaswaldsee translates to glass forest lake.  That sounded interesting to me, so I did an Internet search and learned that the Glaswaldsee is a wild lake referred to as the “blue eye” in the central Northern Black Forest.

The Glaswaldsee is a “Karsee“, meaning that it’s a remnant from the last ice age.  These lakes formed when ice water could flow down a mountain side and collect on a flat surface.  The water formed a lake that is fed only by melting snow and rain.  During periods of drought, the lakes can dry up and become overgrown.  After the ice age, there were as many as 35 Karseen in the Northern Black Forest.  Now, there are only a few left, many of which are near Freudenstadt.  As luck would have it, we live relatively close to Freudenstadt.

We put the top down on the Mini and took off for the tiny spa hamlet of Bad Rippoldsau, since that was close to where we’d seen the sign.  Alternatively, we could have reached the lake via another spa town, Bad Peterstal-Griesbach.  On the way there, we stopped at a hotel in a really tiny village called Zwieselberg and had lunch at Hotel Hirsch… one of many Hotel Hirsches in the area.  We stopped there because we saw a sign that read they had non-stop food from noon until 9:00pm.  Just before I got out of the car, the strap on my new purse broke… the one I bought two months ago to replace the last purse I had whose strap broke.  I guess I should stop carrying so much crap with me.

Hotel Hirsch in tiny Zwieselberg welcomes you…

Bill looks relaxed in the empty restaurant…

It was really dead in the restaurant and super quiet, but soon some hikers came in.  The bartender, who seemed to have a rather stoic personality, turned on the TV to music videos.  The menu was limited and simple… it was mostly stuff like schnitzel, goulash, wurst, and salad.  Everything was super cheap, though…

I had red wurst with fries and salad.  Props to the Hotel Hirsch for bringing out a big ramekin of ketchup.  I was surprised they didn’t supply mustard, which also would have been welcome.

Bill had white wurst.


While we were eating, a guy came in and asked to turn the channel to sports.  He asked us in English if we minded.  We didn’t, actually, because the video that had just played was by a woman named Noah Cyrus.  The song was called “We Are Fucked”.  It always amazes me how much freer Germans are with English swear words… not that I mind the f-word, but that particular song was kind of depressing.  It was followed up by a song from Justin Bieber.  So yeah, turn the channel to football, please!

After we paid our twenty euro bill, we headed toward our final destination.  We found the road I had spotted during our last trip to the area.  It was narrow and rather primitive.  There were a couple of times when Bill was sporting white knuckles as he gripped the steering wheel.  We made one wrong turn and ended up at someone’s private abode.  Then we finally spotted a sign for a parking area for the Glaswaldsee.  After several more scary minutes ascending the primitive road, we reached the edge of the nature park where the lake is located.  Bill parked, paid for the 1,50 euro Parkschein (which is good all day), and noted that there’s also a zip line at that location.

I listened to the peaceful creek…

We took a look at the map…


Then it was a one kilometer walk to the lake…  however, that one kilometer hike was entirely uphill.  I got a bit winded, and I’m sure my hips and legs will complain tomorrow morning.  I was still able to walk up the gravelly road without too much trouble.  And when we reached the lake, we were rewarded…

A sandstone wall borders the lake.

It should be mentioned that swimming is not allowed at this lake.  I did see a couple of people wading in the water, including a little girl whose mother was taking pictures.  Personally, I thought the water looked more brown than blue, but it was definitely quiet and serene and I didn’t regret the challenging climb.  Needless to say, it’s not exactly stroller friendly.  I did see people with dogs, though.  There was no one official there to make sure people followed the rules.  Below are some photos I got before we headed back down the mountain.

Ducks live there.

There is a path that surrounds the lake.  It takes about twenty minutes or so to stroll around it.  There are other trails you can take, including one that goes to Bad Peterstal-Griesach.  I was glad we didn’t start from there, since the sign said it was 7.8 kilometers away on hilly terrain.  Those of you who are more fit than I am may find it a good place for a challenging hike.  

A long walk…

The path around the lake is pleasant.

Here’s a little hut and cookout area.  We saw a few people enjoying it today.  I did not notice any public restrooms here, but there are plenty of bushes for ducking behind…

A nice view down…

I snapped a picture of Bill as he was telling me about some guy he met in Iraq on a “vomit comet”.  Apparently, the guy was a jerk and warned Bill not to throw up.  Bill responded by grabbing a barf bag and threatening to use it.  My mild mannered husband is endlessly patient, but he has a snarky side, too.


The journey home was excellent.  Below are a few more photos of the lovely drive…  Yes, this area is a long way from downtown Stuttgart, but we wouldn’t trade living out this way for being closer to Bill’s work.  There’s so much to do in and around the Black Forest.  Lots of bikers, on bicycles and motorcycles, were also enjoying the views and the weather.

I’m really glad I noticed the sign for Glaswaldsee…  I don’t think it’s one of those places tourists usually find.  Glaswaldsee, by the way, is very close to the Bear Park.  You could easily combine the activities.

Really… if you live near the Black Forest, you owe it to yourself to get out and explore it.  The last time we lived here, we didn’t do nearly as many local activities.  We’re making up for that now, but not everyone gets to come back to Germany.  So, I urge you to make the most of your time here, however long or short it might be.  And if you feel up to it, maybe you should visit the Glaswaldsee.