Celebrate spring by visiting baby animals and barnyard pets on a local New Jersey farm. In addition to seeing chicks, calves, lambs, bunnies, and piglets, kids can crack corn, collect eggs, and even learn how cheese and bread are made at these family-friendly farmsteads.
Some offer full petting zoos, as well as wagon rides and pick-your-own fruits and vegetables. Read on for more than a dozen of our favorites.
Northern New Jersey
Abma’s Farm – Wyckoff
Head to Abma’s for a quaint farm experience. The family staff welcome everyone to visit and feed their cows, goats, bunnies, and more friendly farm animals. Head into the market to purchase crackers to feed some of the animals, or grab a sandwich, cookie, soup, and other delicious treats for yourself and the kids. The barnyard is open daily (with the exception of Sunday): Monday-Friday, 8am-6pm; Saturday, 8am-5:30pm. And if you happen to be a grandparent taking your little ones out for the day, the farm offers FREE admission (to Grams or Gramps) every Wednesday!
Learn how to handle and care for many different animals at Alstede Farms.
Alstede Farms – Chester
Alstede is a great place to bring the family year-round and offers everything from fresh produce to Christmas trees. 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.
Schedule a visit to the Barnyard Sanctuary to meet rescued farm animals.
The Barnyard Sanctuary – Columbia
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–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 make sure their animals and adopters are ideally matched.
RELATED: 10 Best Farms for Family Fun and Entertainment in NJ
Get a hands-on animal experience at Brookhollow's Barnyard in Boonton.
Brookhollow's Barnyard – 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. Their unique bucket-and-shovel method of safety-first feeding ensures that little fingers are never too close to the animals’ chompers. Many baby animals arrive throughout the spring and early summer. Other activities include pedal tractors and a “cow train” ride. The farm also offers birthday parties and weekly summer camps for kids. Their barn opens its doors in May and closes for the season following Halloween, with hours Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 9:30am–2:30pm; extended hours on Thursdays from 9:30am–6:30pm; and weekends from 10am–5pm each day.
Fosterfields Living Historical Farm – Morristown
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 and 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. Hours of operation are Tuesday through Saturday, 10am–5pm (April through June); Wednesday through Saturday,10am–5pm and Sunday, noon–5pm (July through October).
RELATED: Step Back in Time at NJ's Living History Farms
You can rent two baby chicks for two weeks from Sparta Mountain Farm.
Sparta Mountain Farm – Oak Ridge
Looking for a real hands-on experience for your family? Sparta Mountain Farm's popular rent-a-chick program allows families to rent two newly hatched chicks or ducklings for two weeks during the early spring. Kids will learn how these adorable creatures grow and how to care for them during this unique experience. Though the farm doesn’t currently provide public tours, you can call or email in advance to schedule a visit at your convenience.
Cuddle with a baby pig at Sugar Sweet Farms. Photo courtesy of the farm
Sugar Sweet Farms – Lafayette
Since it opened in 2013 (originally in Andover, now in Lafayette), this petting zoo has been making Sussex County animal lovers smile—and it has everything to do with the family of furry and fuzzy friends that can be found here. Presently, the barnyard boasts goats, lambs, alpacas, pot-bellied pigs, bunnies, guinea pigs, ducks, chickens, chicks, ducklings, and piglets for you and your tinies to enjoy and feed. And speaking of baby animals (and piglets), the farm just celebrated the birth of a brand-new pot-bellied pig, the daughter of two of its prized piggies. So, if your babes ooh and ahh over new arrivals, a trip to Sugar Sweet Farms might prove to be super-sweet! The farm is open all weekend, Friday through Sunday, from 10am–5pm.
Sun High Orchards – Randolph
Sun High has been a fixture in my family since I was in elementary school, and since having my son, I’ve been back every fall for pumpkin picking. The farmstand has grown from a tiny Jersey ripe tomato treasure into a full market that offers an impressive range of fresh-picked fruits and vegetables. Nothing beats the intoxicating aromas of breads and apple pies baking in their ovens. There are well-shaded picnic areas to bring some treats or snag a bite from their on-site snackery, and when you’re ready, pay a visit to all the friendly farm animals. They might not be able to indulge in the homemade gourmet ice cream, but they’ll certainly sneak some nibbles from your cone-dripping cuties.
Valley Shepherd Creamery – Long Valley
This is the place to see everything sheep. Starting in May, 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. Check the tour schedule online to see what is offered seasonally.
Central New Jersey
Visit the gentle alpacas at Bluebird.
Bluebird Farm Alpacas – Peapack
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 and meet and interact with the farm's cuddly herd. Visits are by reservation only or during one of the farm's open farm days.
Bobolink Dairy – Milford
Bobolink Dairy has moved from its old location in Vernon to Milford, but it still raises grass-fed cows and produces outstanding cheeses and wood-fired breads. You can sign up for farm tours (or check their farm schedule for events and farmer’s markets) and show your kids where the cows pasture, see where the bread is made, and taste the different cheeses.
Meet the gentle resident horse and other friendly animals at Terhune Orchards.
Terhune Orchards – Princeton
Terhune Orchards is a fantastic location for a day of family fun on the farm. While it does not advertise 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 has a great walking path for visitors and is also host to fun events coming up in the warmer months.
Make friends with a skunk at Funny Farm.
Funny Farm Rescue Animal Sanctuary – Mays Landing
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 Tuesdays and Sundays from 8am–4pm, and you can purchase food to feed their animals anytime of the day (in their store).
Johnson’s Locust Hall Farm – Jobstown
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.
Paws Discovery Farm – Mt. Laurel
At Paws Discovery Farm, you and your own “Old McDonald”–loving brood will cross paths with more than 80 different kinds of animals. From feathers to scales, they have it all, and if you’ve been scouting out a scene for a holy cow–worthy hands-on animal education, there truly isn’t a more perfect place to visit. The farm is open seven days a week from 10am–4pm, and it offers daily events planned in the summer (in addition to the regular petting zoo hours). Toddler Time happens every Friday from 10am–noon, too, so you might want to swap out your library story time session for a real-life EI-EI-O experience every now and again.
Originally published 2014.
Photos courtesy of the farms.