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Sunset Safari at the Nashville Zoo Is a Feast For the Senses and One Wild Party, Too!

by Rich and Laura Lynch

The Sunset Safari at the Nashville Zoo in Tennessee was named by NFocus magazine as one of the "Best Parties" and we would have to agree. This event that was held on September 08, 2023 showcased culinary delights from some of Music City's best restaurants and beverage purveyors. This unique social gathering which is a fundraiser for the Zoo also featured live entertainment and encounters with animal ambassadors. In addition to fine food there were auctions with a wide range of selections such as Predators Suite Tickets and Zoo themed options such as becoming a vet for a day.


The Sunset Safari was a most enjoyable culinary adventure.

Friday the weather was picture perfect which was a bonus. As we waited for the doors to open we spotted two entertainers on stilts along with a number of goats who were out and about to greet guests. Upon entry we were give a cardboard tray that had a cup holder along with a map that listed the numerous participants and supporters. As we were making our way to the Festival Field we saw flamingos who were enjoying their own dietary delights. Their handlers told us that these pretty birds can live from 40-60 years in captivity. We would see more of their colorful cousins a bit later at the pond where they reside.


A pair of greeters on stilts set the bar of anticipation high for the Sunset Safari.

At the Field there was a band called The Music City Sound and plenty of sustenance to sample from local favorites such as Dicey's Pizza and Edley's BBQ - both establishments who we were already familiar with. Two new finds among many were the Stoney River Steakhouse who were grilling on site and Island Fin Poke who were giving out a refreshing sherbet like dessert. Grain & Berry were also showcasing flavorful healthy foods from their spot in the African Field. Also in this area was a musician - JL Fulks - armed with an acoustic playing a fine set of covers including Kenny Wayne Shepherd's "Blue on Black". The folks from Margaritaville Hotel accepted our condolences for the recent lost of Jimmy Buffet with lovely mini key lime pies and Frugal MacDoogal were in charge of adult and soft beverages.


Tuna steak samples from the Outback Steakhouse were too tasty to pass up.

Sunset Safari requires walking from various sections to sample all the goodies. There were tables and chairs set up so folks could sit and enjoy a tray full of their finds before moving on to the next part of the hunt. More local favorites were Doughbird, Hattie B's Hot Chicken and Jasper's Restaurant. At Kangaroo Kickabout, MacHenry's Meat & Three served meatloaf with mashed potatoes that made us want to visit their lunchtime establishment on the Murfreesboro Pike. This gathering is a great opportunity to try cuisine from places you may have heard of or perhaps passed in your travels. So, in addition to supporting a worthy cause attendees learn more about eating establishments in the area.


The Music City Sound were top notch entertainers on Festival Field.

Since the Safari takes place at night a lot of the animals are in for the evening but we were pleasantly surprised to see that the Sumatran tiger had decided to sit right next to the glass in its enclosure. The tiger sat calmly as folks took photos. We were thrilled with this encounter as on most of our daytime visits to the Nashville Zoo the tiger would be further away preferring the bushes. Another highlight of the event was meeting Fern the sloth. A bar was set up for her to demonstrate her strength with various maneuvers and she appeared to be enjoying showing off her skills. The last ambassador we met was a cute skunk.


This Sumatran tiger at the Nashville Zoo was a cool cat entertaining all of us on Safari.

The Sunset Safari is considered the Zoo's premier annual fundraising event. It was an elegant, wild night filled with food, drinks, live music and animals. Guests strolled the Zoo's pathways to sample appetizers, desserts, drinks, entrees and more from over 40 of Nashville's best food and beverage purveyors while supporting the Zoo who hosts a number of themed events like this. Later this year Zoolumination which is a must see is returning in the fall/winter to light up the grounds of Grassmere all over again.


We went back for seconds of the Cuban Bites from Jaspers.

The Nashville Zoo located at 3777 Nolensville Pike is a nonprofit organization that is also an accredited member of the Associations of Zoos and Aquariums, exemplifying the highest standards of animal care and husbandry. The Zoo is actively engaged in conservation research, habitat protection, breeding programs and education initiatives locally and globally. With support from the Nashville community, donors, sponsors and events such as Sunset Safari the Zoo has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in Middle Tennessee so come see for yourself why the Nashville Zoo is a big draw.


Food and tip top alcohol choices makes Safari Sunset one of Nashville's best parties around.

Related Links: For more information on the NASHVILLE ZOO and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - Nashville Zoo | Komodo Dragons Have a Big Reveal at the Nashville Zoo | Zoolumination Is Off to a Roaring Start In Spectacular Return to Nashville Zoo


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