Beastie Cheer: Safari West Holiday Open House

No hostess gift is needed for the animal residents; just your presence at the Santa Rosa preserve.

NO HOSTESS GIFT REQUIRED: What's the one place most people stop by on the way to a friend or co-worker's holiday open house? "The store" is a fine answer. Nobody likes to show up empty-handed -- there are etiquette rules to follow -- and a pound cake or bottle of bubbly is just the right thing to have when one walks in the front door. But what of an open house at an expansive animal preserve? The meerkats aren't really into Champagne -- they're bubbly enough, energy-wise, as is -- and the giraffes would probably turn a long nose up at the idea of a pound cake, as it isn't really their bag, as edible things go. Still, the other tenets of a good open house stand at Safari West's annual open house days. And one of those tenets? Get better acquainted. The Santa Rosa animal park makes this easier by changing up the price on their African Queen tour, making it just $25 for adults and free for kids under 13. This is a reserved deal, so you'll need to ring up for your spot on Nov. 16, Dec. 7, or Dec. 14, which, yes, are all Sundays. But isn't Sunday the most open-house-ish of all the days of the week?

MORE SAFARI WEST HAPPENINGS: While Thanksgiving is now sold out at the park -- mark your 2015 calendar for this seriously popular, always-booked-up-way-in-advance meal and event -- there are other choice experiences, like spending a night near the animals. Luxury tents with "polished wood floors, gleaming copper basins in private bathrooms, and one of a kind hand-hewn furniture" are part of the swanky stay, a stay, of course, that keeps you close-ish, or at least not-too-far-ish, from the gnu and the buffalo and the other peepers and chitterers of Safari West. You can also, of course, just visit on a normal day, no open house, no overnight, to get your fill of the fauna that's made the preserve so very famous.

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