Sabin Robbins is executive director of the Friends of the National Zoo (FONZ). Not surprisingly, he prefers the "wilder parts" of the world.
That could be as close as Tropic World, a stadium-size area of Chicago's Brookfield Zoo that houses gorillas, hippos and monkeys, or as far away as a hot-air balloon ride over the Serengeti Plains in East Africa. Many of his adventures occur while taking FONZ members on animal study tours around the world. Among his favorite spots--not always related to animals--are:
* Kenya: The great thing about Kenya is that you can go from the Space Age to the Stone Age in 30 minutes: You can go from the sophisticated pleasures of the capital city of Nairobi to drinking blood and milk with Masai warriors in Ngong Hills. At Lewa Downs you can ride horses through herds of giraffe on the Equator with clear views of snowcapped Mt. Kenya. The food is 5-star.
* Mexico: There are a couple of favorites--I love San Miguel: the church, the classic square, and the strong tradition of arts and crafts. The square in Oaxaca is even better with its wedding-cake bandstand and, of course, the nearby pre-Columbian ruins.
* Lancaster, Pa.: I like to visit Pennsylvania Dutch country in the spring, when the Amish are plowing their fields, and in the winter, when they are skating on their ponds.
* Charleston, S.C.: I think it has the sophistication of a large city but the slow-paced charm of a southern village. All those magnificent 18th-century houses, marvelous low-country food, and flowers everywhere.
* Northern Michigan: Most of my summers as a child were spent there. We have a cottage at Northport Point near Lake Michigan. Whenever I can get away in July and August, I get a bottle of wine and a couple of sandwiches, sail off in my sunfish and spend the day on the bay.