I thank my lucky stars for the incredible cultural opportunities living in New York City offers my kids. But sometimes I fret over the disconnect from the natural world, especially since my mom was a certified country girl.
I want my three kids to be as comfortable in the country as they are in the urban jungle. So we're always looking for ways to get out of NYC and explore the expansive farmland that borders the city. While you can meet some furry friends at the city's wonderful zoos, and even feed them at places like Prospect Park Zoo, there's something special about getting a bit closer, or enjoying that farm setting. We've rounded up nine petting zoos or animal havens to get some serious face time with furry friends—whether you're petting a donkey, bottle-feeding a baby goat, hand-feeding a giraffe, or letting a lorikeet land on your shoulder.
Here are our favorite spots for an up-close animal encounter, all within two hours of NYC.