Some kids just want to reach out and touch. Everything! If you have one of these hands-on types (or even if you don’t) head to one of DC’s local petting zoos where even the animals aren’t off-limits. From snuggling up to a baby goat to riding a camel, these are the best places to meet-and-greet with furry and feathered friends.
photo: National Zoo
Meet and greet cows, alpacas, hogs, donkeys, goats, chickens and fish at the National Zoo’s Kids’ Farm. Zoo keepers are on-hand to answer questions about the animals’ personalities and the skills, dedication and knowledge it takes to care for them. Adjacent to the farm, kids can learn about a farmer’s best friend, the honeybee at the Me and the Bee playground.
3001 Connecticut Ave.
Open: 8 a.m.-7 p.m.
photo: Tomasina R. via Yelp
Get ready to hitch up the wagon and go for a zoofari ride at this small petting zoo that is just perfect for the mini set. Upon arrival kiddos can grab a bucket of feed and a bottle of milk for a baby goat and start meeting and greeting the animals while giving them a tasty treat. Explore a reptile house and the Budgieary Adventure Aviary, too.
1228 Hunter Mill Rd.
Open: 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Leesburg Animal Park
This 21-acre facility offers little ones the chance to take part in interactive animal shows, arts and crafts, as well as visit and pet the animals. Ride a pony on a nice day or head inside on colder, rainy ones to enjoy all the activities that this park offers. Visit everything from farm animals to monkeys, llamas and lemurs. A toddler playground space is just perfect for restless younger siblings or to get out the wiggles before heading home.
19270 Monroe-Madison Memorial Hwy.
Open: 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
Photo: Martha Heinemann Bixby via flickr
This working farm in Chantilly boasts a playground, carousel and wagon rides for tiny tykes. Laid back with enough activities and open outdoor space to please all types of small ones the Ticonderoga farm creates a friendly atmosphere to pet baby and adult animals like goats and seeing proud peacocks on full display.
26469 Ticonderoga Rd.
Open: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Cost: $12.95-$14 .95
Rabbits, sheep, chickens, cows and draft horses are in the mix at this Frying Pan based petting zoo located in Fairfax County. Add in the pigs and a peacock or two and you have yourself a fun, educational day spent outside. The traditional red barn farm is a working demonstration full of new baby animals joining the Kidwell Farm family.
2709 West Ox Rd.
Open: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Photo: Jason and Tina Coleman via flickr
Catoctin Wildlife Preserve & Zoo
Head into Maryland for a day of outdoor adventuring at Catoctin Wildlife Preserve an d Zoo where families can roam for hours and always see something new. Over 100-acres of wildlife fun little ones can touch and feel large herbivores like while bouncing around the grounds on a safari ride. Take in an interactive show for more touchy-feely moments.
13019 Catoctin Furnace Rd.
Open: Various times; see website
Green Meadows Farm
Get up close and personal at this petting zoo where you can milk cows, feed sheep and goats for free and even take in a pig race or two. Green Meadows has over 200 animals to visit and touch from alpacas and llamas to pea fowl and draft horses with a kangaroo or two as well. Check opening dates as they do vary with seasons.
Green Meadows Farm Urbana Petting Zoo
10102 Fingerboard Rd.
Open: Wed-Fri, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat-Sun, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Cost: $14.50; 23 months and under/FREE.
—Ayren Jackson-Cannady and Victoria Mason
featured photo: Shannan Rouss