Have an animal lover on your hands? Westchester and the Lower Hudson Valley are filled with opportunities to see animals up close and personal—including farms, nature centers, orchards, and animal sanctuaries. Many of these spots also offer kid-friendly activities in addition to the chance to see, touch, and feed horses, goats, cows, pigs, chickens, alpacas, and more.
Read on for our top picks, and be sure to sign up for our newsletters for more family-friendly activities. Don't forget to follow us on Facebook!
Faraway Farm Alpacas – Yorktown Heights
Visitors are welcome at Faraway Farm Alpacas. Families can schedule a visit to tour the farm and see the alpacas and Icelandic Horses. Alpacas are soft, sweet, gentle animals whose fleece is valued for its softness in yarn. The farm store features a variety of alpaca garments (sweaters, shawls, hats, gloves, etc.), blankets, toys, and yarn. Visits to the farm are by appointment only, so call ahead of time.
Hold rabbits at Greenburgh Nature Center.
Greenburgh Nature Center – Scarsdale
Greenburgh Nature Center gives kids the chance to see and touch various animals (like ferrets, guinea pigs, snakes, and turtles) at its indoor exhibits. There's also a playground and trails to explore, where kids just might see birds and other small animals like squirrels and chipmunks in their natural habitat. There's even a beehive at the nature center. While the grounds at Greenburgh Nature Center are open from dawn to dusk, the indoor exhibits are open every day except Friday. The indoor exhibits require an admission fee, but kids under 2 and members are free; a Westchester Parks pass gets a user half-price admission.
Muscoot Farm – Somers
Alfred B. DelBello Muscoot Farm is a popular spot for many local kids and families. This beloved, kid-friendly farm—which has been around since the late 1800s—has plenty of animals, including cows, pigs, chickens, goats, and sheep, with lots of places to walk and explore. The farm doesn't allow visitors to touch or feed the animals, and dogs are not allowed. The farm is open seven days a week, year-round—and is free to get in.
Stone Barns Center – Tarrytown
Stone Barns Center is perhaps most well-known for its famous restaurant—Blue Hill at Stone Barns—but the Center has much more to offer. Visitors can explore the grounds and check out the animals (pigs, chickens, sheep, goats, and more). The Stone Barns Center also has events, some of which are family-friendly, like the annual Sheep Shearing at the end of April. The center is open Wednesday through Sunday (closed to the public on Monday and Tuesday). On Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, entrance is free; on weekends from April through November, visitors must purchase admission tickets. Weekends are popular and purchasing in advance is recommended. Dogs are allowed, but they must be leashed and are prohibited from certain areas. Make sure to visit the cafe for lunch or snacks.
Catskills Animal Sanctuary – Saugerties
The Catskills Animal Sanctuary has more than 300 animals, including cows, pigs, goats, sheep, chickens, and horses. If you want to make a weekend getaway of your trip, you can even stay overnight at the sanctuary's guest house or in one of the many nearby hotels or B&Bs. Weekend tours are offered, and Saugerties and the surrounding towns also have plenty of dining options. The Catskills Animal Sanctuary offers special Family-Focused Tours on Saturday and Sunday at 11am from April through November, though kids can go on the other tours as well.
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Meet Annabelle and baby Spencer at Kelder's Farm.
Kelder’s Farm – Kerhonkson
Visitors to Kelder's can pet such farm animals as sheep, goats, alpacas, cows, and donkeys. There's also a playground, giant jumping pillow, and mini-golf—not to mention the largest garden gnome you've ever seen. Dogs are welcome but they must be leashed. Open daily, 10am–6pm, during growing season.
Barton Orchards – Poughquag
Barton Orchards offers tons of family fun in the summer and fall. In addition to pick-your-own fruits and flowers, and a host of other family-friendly activities, Barton Orchards has a petting zoo where children can feed the animals. There's also a Fun Park with giant slides, a bounce house, rope maze, pedal kart track, and lots more. Plus, a new tree top adventure course is coming soon! Open daily from July to November.
Ochs Orchard – Warwick
This favorite pick-your-own spot also has a small petting zoo with miniature goats and resident donkeys Misty and Eeyore. Open daily, 9am–5pm.
Photos courtesy of the farms