6 Farm Experiences For The Whole Family
City slickers looking for an exciting agrarian getaway often visit farms for a change of scenery, and for thrilling, up-close encounters with animals such as alpacas, reindeer, sheep, and horses. Many agricultural sites offer tours as well as play areas, special classes, and more. With such variety, there's something for everyone in the family. In no particular order, this list shares many farms that are open to visitors and offer activities sure to please people of all ages.
The #1 entry is Apple Hill Farm, a mountaintop fiber agricultural center in Banner Elk, North Carolina. There are several tours available for visitors. The more general, educational excursion allows guests to learn about the farm's many animal residents, such as alpacas, llamas, dogs, pigs, and horses.
There are two specialized tours. One, called Knitting with the Alpacas, lets visitors stitch and crochet outdoors near the animals. The Farm Photo Tour allows guests to take photographs on the grounds and with the creatures. A local photographer, Cindy McEnery, and the Apple Hill team are present to help locate the best spots to capture memorable pictures of the landscape and its furry friends.
Coming in at #2, we have the Reindeer Farm in Palmer, Alaska. Co-owner Tom Williams grew up on the land, which was previously used as a dairy farm. It is now home to many animals: reindeer, elk, bison, alpacas, and moose. It offers several activities, including a horse ride up a nearby butte where visitors might encounter foxes, bald eagles, or porcupines.
The farm's signature tour includes fun facts and general information about reindeer. Visitors can enter the animals' pens with a cup of food to hand-feed and take photographs with the Arctic beasts. There are also more involved tours every autumn that include wagon rides, hay mazes, and more.
Next up, at #3, we have The Hop Farm in Paddock Wood, England. It has many attractions for children, including giant jumping pillows, a magic castle, an outdoor adventure play area, rides, and discos. The Animal Farm features donkeys, horses, and many other cuddly creatures.
If they wish, visitors can enjoy more personal animal adventures, such as the Shire Horse Experience, which includes a meet-and-greet with the equines. Guests will learn to prepare a horse for showing, including grooming and plaiting mane and tail. A demonstration of harnesses is also included.
The #4 entry is Fishers Farm Park, a family-run amusement center set in the West Sussex countryside. It offers a selection of indoor soft play, farm animals, and exciting rides. It also has a range of food outlets and outdoor picnic areas.
Fishers runs a daily farm show spectacle inside the Animal Encounters Barn. Visitors get the opportunity to bottle-feed baby lambs and calves, watch Shire horse demonstrations and learn facts about farming. Children can also enjoy a short pony ride around the outdoor sand-school and walkway on one of the on-site horses.
For the #5 entry, we present Charmingfare Farm, located in Candia, New Hampshire. It is a working agricultural site with several attractions for visitors to enjoy, such as horse rides, including carriage-drawn ones, and meet-and-greets with various animals. In wintertime, journeys via sleds or sleighs are available.
Child visitors can enjoy the Dairy Discovery Barn, home to a hands-on petting area. After seeing the farm animals, one can follow the paths leading into the woods and encounter wildlife exhibits, home to black bears, a wolf, a camel, fallow deer, and skunks. Charmingfare Farm and Hopkinton State Fair have put together a traveling van to bring critters out into the community, whether for special events or presentations.
Rounding out our list, at #6, we have Stepney City Farm in London's borough of Tower Hamlets. It is a three-acre working agricultural site that gives children and adults a chance to meet many animals, learn how to grow food, and try out arts and crafts. Every Saturday, Stepney City hosts a farmers' market.
The farm runs a special education program, organizing classes, tours, and projects throughout the year. It offers pottery and woodworking programs on-site. The Allotment Kitchen, headed up by Lucy Cuthbert and Betty Gilbert, is Stepney City's cafe, serving meals prepared with locally-sourced produce.