Living in the Bay Area you don’t have to be Old MacDonald to get down and dirty on a farm. It’s easy to have the best of both worlds–dinner delivery by night and rural farm visit by day. Get back to nature (if only for a few hours) at one of these open-to-the-public working farms (bonus: most of them are free!) that are just now welcoming spring’s cute baby farm animals. Read on to discover five of our favorite places to frolic with baby farm animals.
Animals you’ll see: Goats, llamas
You’ll want to design a whole day trip around this beautiful goat farm in historic Pescadero, just 45 minutes from San Francisco via scenic Highway 1. Visitors are always welcome, but the best time to go is in the spring, when hundreds of wee baby goats fill the pastures. After enjoying their unbelievable cuteness, stop by the tasting room for some of the prize-winning cheeses. Grab a loaf of warm artichoke bread from Arcangeli Grocery in town, and enjoy an alfresco lunch under the apple trees out back of the store. (For added fun: Visit the website to watch adorable baby goat videos!)
205 North St.
Hours: Wed.-Sun., 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
Animals you’ll see : Sheep, cows, llamas, alpacas, goats, chickens
Here’s your child’s chance to play farmer, for real! In beautiful rural Petaluma, this farm is dedicated to carrying on the ancient craft of making wool and to educating the public about it. Although not open daily (no unexpected drop-ins, please!), Windrush invites school classes to visit for informative and fun field trips. They also offer lovely outdoor music sessions for kids 5 and under (Wed. and Thurs. at 10:30 a.m.; $12/child-adult pair, $5/siblings), farm camps for spring and summer, and special events such as Spring Lamb Days (where kids ages 7-12 will get to care for sheep, collect eggs, and work in the garden) and Twilight Lamb Romps, pizza included. See their elegant blog for more information.
photo credit: Paige Green Photography
Animals you’ll see: Cows, goats, pigs, chickens
Snuggled among the oaks and bay trees of rustic Los Altos Hills, about 20 minutes north of Palo Alto, Hidden Villa has been providing educational programs to Bay Area kids for over a generation. Although their focus is on field trips and camps, the lovely working ranch does welcome the general public to wander the dirt paths, jump over the creek, swing from branches, and, in spring, coo at the baby animals.
photo credit: author
26870 Moody Rd.
Los Altos Hills, Ca
Hours: Tues.-Sun., 9 a.m.-dusk
Ardenwood Historic Farm
Animals you’ll see: Rabbits, cows, sheep, pigs, chickens, turkeys, peacocks
Go back in time with a visit to this vintage working farm circa 1850, a real hidden gem tucked into a eucalyptus grove in Fremont. As you stroll the elaborate Victorian mansion and gardens, look for the friendly interpretive staff, dressed in period clothing, who are happy to talk to kids about what life was like over 100 years ago. Other fun features include horse-drawn carriage rides, naturalist programs, an aviary, and, of course, baby animals. (Hot tip: The lambs have arrived!)
photo credit: Konrad Summers via Flickr Creative Commons
34600 Ardenwood Blvd.
Hours: Tues.-Sun., 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
Cost: $3/adults; $2/children; free for children under 4
The Little Farm
Animals you’ll see: Chickens, ducks, rabbits, pigs, cows, horses, goats, sheep
Built in 1955, this fun and friendly educational farm, located in the Tilden Nature Area in the East Bay, provides possibly the best petting zoo experience around. One of the great perks here is that visitors are encouraged to bring lettuce and celery to feed the animals. Although it’s been closed for renovation since last October, the farm is scheduled to reopen in April (check website for exact date)—just in time for lamb season.
Parking lot located at the intersection of Cannon and Central Park Drives
Hours: Park gates open at 8 a.m., but the best times to see animals are between 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.
Good to know: In all cases, before you go, check the website or make a phone call to make sure the new arrivals are ready for viewing.
Have a hot tip to share? Tell us where you see baby animals in the comment section below!
— Emma Bland Smith