Fosterfields Living Historical Farm functions exactly as it did at the turn of the 20th century. This is no petting zoo, but kids can see exactly how the animals were raised in the olden days. They can watch pigs, sheep, horses, and donkeys in the fields and pens. Kids can also crack corn and feed the chickens, and they can even go into the hen house to collect eggs at the end of the day. Bear in mind that the animals are just a small part of the farm, and kids are expected to help out with other chores such as pumping water, doing laundry, churning butter, and much more. Open May through October, farm tours are by online reservation only.
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Learn how to handle and care for many different animals at Alstede Farms.
Alstede is a great place to bring the family year-round, and it offers everything from fresh produce to Christmas trees. There is always a seasonal fruit to pick, and the barnyard animals meet you right at the parking lot! It also has a baby animal tour for children: A scenic hayride brings everyone to a heated barn, where you can visit all the babies. Children can pet ducklings and visit baby goats, pigs, cows, lambs, and more. There are pony rides during certain seasons, too! You can purchase feed bags filled with veggies to feed the animals.
The Barnyard Sanctuary is a safe place where animals are rescued, rehabilitated, and re-homed. Currently, the property is home to more than 720 rescued farm animals, including horses, donkeys, mules, cows, water buffalo, sheep, goats, llamas, alpacas, emus, pot-bellied pigs, farm hogs, and many birds. This unique place is open to visitors, but you must schedule an appointment to visit. Open Monday through Friday between 9am and 3pm or Saturday from 9am-noon. If you’ve been thinking about adding to your family (by two or four feet), the farm has an ‘Adopt Me’ program and a very vigilant vetting process to ensure its animals and adopters are ideally matched.
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Visit Brookhollow's Barnyard in Boonton.
Brookhollow's Barnyard is a small petting farm where kids can interact with animals such as alpacas, llamas, sheep, goats, ponies, donkeys, chickens, peafowl, ducks, and miniature horses. Its unique bucket-and-shovel method of safety-first feeding ensures little fingers are never too close to the animals’ chompers. Many baby animals arrive throughout the spring and early summer. Other activities include a playground and seasonal fun from egg hunts to a pumpkin patch. The farm also hosts birthday parties and weekly summer camps for kids. The barn is scheduled to open its doors on May 1 and typically closes for the season following Halloween.
This is the place to see everything sheep. Starting in April, the farm offers weekend spring and summer lambing tours, during which kids can see hundreds of lambs. It also offers milk and cheese tours in the fall, where you can learn how cheeses are made, see the milking and cheese-making process, and enjoy tastings. Online reservations are required for all tours.
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Visit the gentle alpacas at Bluebird.
Central New Jersey Petting Zoos
The Bluebird Farm Alpacas is a unique type of petting zoo, with an 11-acre farm situated in the Somerset Hills. On a visit, you are encouraged to take pictures, meet, and interact with the farm's cuddly herd. Tours are available on weekends and are by online reservation only.
Bring your family to 10 Lil' Acre Rescued Animal Farm to meet rescued animals like bunnies, ponies, ducks, pigs, sheep, cows, horses, and more. Learn how to care for them and buy a bag of food to try feeding them yourself. The farm is open weekends only and pony rides are included with your petting zoo ticket purchase.
The Allaire Community Farm is operated and supported by more than 200 volunteers year-round and is home to many rescued animals, from goats to horses to ducks. Walk around the farm, say hello to the furry and feathered friends, and buy a bag of food to feed the animals. The farm is closed to visitors on Mondays.
Bobolink Dairy raises grass-fed cows and produces outstanding cheeses and wood-fired bread. Show your kids where the cows pasture, see where the bread is made, and taste the different cheeses during farm tours. Farm tours are by online reservation only, and group sizes are limited to 12 or fewer.
Book a 90-minute tour at Doyle's Farm, and you'll get to experience a bunch of fun farm activities, including meeting farm animals like cows, sheep, goats, chicken, bunnies, pigs, and donkeys. Learn their purpose on the farm and the differences between breeds. In the spring, you can go on hayrides, learn (and try!) goat milking, collect eggs from the coop, hand-feed the sheep and goats, plant seeds, and more.
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Meet the gentle resident horse and other friendly animals at Terhune Orchards.
Terhune Orchards is a fantastic location for a day of family fun on the farm. While it does not advertise itself as a petting zoo, it does welcome visitors to meet and feed the animals living on the farm. The barnyard animals include sheep, chickens, a horse, a friendly duck named “Egg,” and more. Terhune boasts robust pick-you-own schedule and hosts fun events year-round.
South Jersey Petting Zoos
Go on a Barnyard Walk at this working dairy farm to see the animals frolic and play on the farm. Meet Elmer the donkey or visit the nursery of baby calves and baby goats. The Barnyard Walk is open this spring, Wednesdays through Saturdays, from 10am-4pm.
As a charity organization, Funny Farm Rescue has made it a goal to provide food, shelter, medical care, and love to unwanted farm, exotic, and domesticated animals for their entire lives. Visiting times for this special environment are Sundays and Tuesdays from 8am-4pm, and you can purchase food to feed the animals any time of the day in its on-site store.
This popular NJ farm offers year-round family entertainment, including an outdoor fun park for kids, splash pads, and a barnyard with friendly animals, including cows, ducks, goats, sheep, mini donkeys, and chickens. Admission to the barnyard area includes access to the play area that has climbing, slides, pretend play, go-karts, and more. Timed-entry tickets are available online. There is plenty of year-round pick-your-own produce happening at Johnson's Corner Farm, too, including strawberries, apples, and pumpkins.
Head to this historic, 315-acre farm—built 100 years before the 13 colonies became a nation—and step back in time. You will have the chance to meet and feed the goats, sheep, and chickens, and there is a perfect view from the animal farm to the pasture and side yard, where the cows and ponies hang out. It reopens for the season in May, and you can visit the animal farm Friday, Saturday, and Sundays from 10am-5pm.
This animal rescue farm offers a petting zoo and pony rides, so kids can get a taste of farm life. No appointment is necessary during typical public hours to see the baby goats, chicks, sheep, and bunnies.
This post, originally published in 2014, is updated annually. All photos courtesy of the farms