Living in or near the city means most kids today don’t have a lot of access to farm animals. But many children absolutely love cows, chickens, pigs, goats, and sheep. If your little one warms to barnyard creatures, they'll have a blast at one of these local farms or zoos, where they can interact with some favorite furry creatures.
Bedford’s Chip-In Farm is a family-run working farm that’s most known for its super fresh eggs, which you can purchase in the country store alongside other local food products. Chip-In invites families to visit the petting zoo and feed the animals free vegetable scraps provided by the farm. There are goats, sheep, cows, bunnies, and chickens that you can visit all year (weather permitting). If your child is nuts for farm animals, consider booking a birthday party at Chip-In.
Franklin Park Zoo—Boston
Experience farm life without ever leaving the city at Franklin Park Zoo. Open during the warmer months, Franklin Farm has a Contact Corral where kids can interact with friendly goats and visit other animals like cattle, donkeys, chickens and a barn cat. And of course, Franklin Park Zoo houses many more animals that are available for looking, not touching, like giraffes, lions and kangaroos. Franklin Farm is included with zoo admission.
Great Brook Farm State Park—Carlisle
Most state parks offer hiking, a pond or lake, and a place to picnic. Great Brook Farm State Park in Carlisle has got all that and much more because it’s also a working farm. Visit the Holstein cow barn before heading over to the petting zoo, where you’ll find goats, sheep, pigs, chickens and ducks. Round out the day by snagging a scoop of ice cream from the on-site shop. Parking at Great Brook is only $2 per day and animal feed can be purchased for 25 cents.
Lookout Farm has a train that takes you to a petting zoo.
Established in 1651, Lookout Farm in Natick is one of the oldest continuously operated farms in the country. The farm is primarily known for its u-pick fruit orchards, which include strawberries, peaches, nectarines, plums and apples. There’s a train that takes you through the orchards and to a children’s play area that has a petting zoo with goats and sheep. Pony rides are available for an additional cost and there is an admission fee (varies by season).
Annie's Animal Barn at Parlee Farms has 70 animals to meet.
Open seasonally, Parlee Farms in Tyngsborough is most known for its extensive u-pick operations. Throughout the summer and fall, Parlee has strawberries, cherries, blueberries, peaches, apples, pumpkins and even flowers. The on-site Annie’s Animal Barn has 70 animals, like goats, chickens and bunnies, which are available for petting and feeding. Parlee Farms has no entrance fee.
If you visit Stone Zoo in Stoneham when the weather is warm, make sure you make a stop at the Barnyard. This area has a petting zoo with sheep, goats, and more. There are lots of other animals at the zoo to see, like snow leopards, wolves and bears, but only the animals in the petting zoo are available to touch and interact with.
Bonus: If your child is more into sea creatures than those that roam on land, take them to the New England Aquarium. There they can touch sea stars, urchins, and snails at the Edge of the Sea Touch Tank, which is included with aquarium admission.
Top photo: Lookout Farm. All photos courtesy of the farms.