Four Boston-Area Farm Favorites for Kids to Answer the Call of the Barnyard
Local mom and “Outdoors with Kids Boston” guidebook author, Kim Foley MacKinnon, shares her best family outing tips and picks with you as part of our guest blog series with the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Kids Outdoors Boston free online community.
Lion, tigers and bears are all well and good, but sometimes all kids want to do is play like Old MacDonald and hang out with cows, pigs, and sheep. It makes sense, when you think about it: after all, among the first sounds and words we teach kids are moo, oink and baa. Countless books and songs feature life on the farm. Here are some great spots around New England to visit when the call of the barnyard beckons.
This privately-owned, and quite eclectic, zoo in Ludlow, MA does boast exotic animals, such as bears and ostriches, but there are also lots of tamer animals to pet and feed, including miniature horses and goats. A playground and a tiny train to ride make this a tot favorite. Despite not being a farm animal, Geoffrey the Giraffe usually steals the show. Bring spare cash to buy some lettuce leaves to feed him from a raised platform.
This Trustees of Reservations property in Dover, MA is a working farm and is open to visit year-round. You can volunteer to work in the fields if you have any would-be farmers in your family; it’s a great place to let kids get their hands dirty. The farm dates back more than 300 years. After you oink at the pigs and cluck at the chickens, you can take the one-mile loop trail through fields and see what’s growing.
Besides the usual exotic animals found at many zoos, Zoo New England also pays attention to more domestic animals. The Contact Corral at Franklin Park Zoo is always a big hit. Children can pet sheep and goats, and check out baby chicks in the brooder building, where newly hatched chicks stay warm in incubators, and in a chicken coop, where several species of older chickens reside. The main barn also houses ponies and donkeys, as well as some special barn "guests" including snakes, spiders, and mice. The barnyard at Stone Zoo in Stoneham, MA is inviting with sheep, goats, and a pygmy zebu (a miniature humped-cattle species domesticated in India about 10,000 years ago).
If you’re looking for more fun fall activities, Kids Outdoors offers some ideas and tips, from creating autumn art to getting a head start on next year’s garden.
Kim Foley MacKinnon is a Boston-based editor, journalist, travel writer—and mom. She writes the Kids Outdoors Boston blog for the Appalachian Mountain Club and contributes to the Boston Globe, AAA Horizons, Boston Parents Paper, and many other publications.
Photo courtesy of The Trustees of Reservations/ Tori Stuart