With spring almost officially upon us (and a big school break on the horizon, too), NYC parents are on the hunt for fun family day trips. One place my daughter and I like to visit at this time of year is White Post Farms, an awesome animal farm and petting zoo located in Melville, Long Island. Although we drove the last time we went, the farm is accessible via the Long Island Rail Road to Huntington Station and a quick taxi ride, so it's a great destination even if you don't have a car.
Unlike your typical nature farm where families pick fruit or watch cows being milked, White Post Farms is for little animals lovers. My daughter was so excited about our last visit, she even agreed to pay her own way (with coins from her piggy bank, of course). If your kid's into exotic animals, pony rides, train rides, treasure hunts and animatronic shows, you'll want to plan a visit. Bonus: Visit between now and Easter and you'll get face time with the Easter Bunny.
Feeding the farm animals is a big thrill for little kids. Be warned: The residents here tend to be more assertive than the ones at the Central Park or Prospect Park Zoos. Kids can also get up close and personal with more exotic creatures like zebras, lemurs, camels and antelopes.
The pony ride was one of the highlights of our visit. Unlike the large "ponies" you see at NYC street fairs or Brooklyn's Kensington Stables, these equines were tiny and gentle. My only regret once we got home was that I didn't pony up a few dollars more for a second ride for my child.
Ronnie's Birdie Landing (open weather permitting) is a cool outdoor aviary. You can purchase birdseed sticks and if you're patient, calm and lucky, the birds will swoop down from the branches to feed. It's a tranquil setting with a waterfall and stream.
My daughter's favorite activity was going on a Mining Adventure. You purchase a bag of mining rough and kids can sift through it for hidden treasure, like arrowheads, gemstones or fossils. You also get a card to help you identify your loot and a carrying bag. The Farmland Express Train Ride was also a big hit with my preschooler.
Admission to White Post Farms is currently $8.29 plus tax per person (the price increases as it gets warmer), and many activities like buying animal feed, taking a pony ride and the Mining Adventure cost extra. So when you visit, be prepared to spend some dough. Bring cash! Credit cards aren't accepted.
There are a number of attractions that are free with admission, like the animatronic Singin' Chicken Show (which mesmerized if slightly confused our kids), a play area with sandboxes and slides, and a summer Splash Zone with a giant inflatable water slides.
Currently White Post Farms is only open on weekends 10am-6pm. The farm frequently hosts special events, like right now you can pose for photos with the Easter Bunny, which is free with admission. You can also sign up for discount coupons on the website. Pony ride birthday party packages are also available.
White Post Farms is located at 250 Old Country Road in Melville, Long Island. Parking is free.
Read about other awesome spring day trips in our Family Travel Guide.