When they were younger, your kids were all about Old McDonald. And through the years, things haven’t changed much—animals are still their jam, even if they have outgrown those adorable “moo,” “baa,” and “neighs” of their youth. That’s why we’ve rounded up nine animal experiences any kid can get in on. If you’re ready to have some fun on the farm before your little animals return to the classroom, scroll down.

The Reptile Zoo

Make a date to spend time with a slew of slithery, scaly friends at the Reptile Zoo in Monroe. This rescue facility, dedicated to taking in mistreated animals and giving them a stellar experience as long as they hang around (and that’s saying a lot since some of their rescues can live over 150 years!), is an all-indoor experience so you can make the trek rain or shine. Once you’re there, plan to spend a flexible hour visiting with 17-year old Basker the albino alligator; Pete and Re-Pete, the two-headed turtle; and a host of other reptilian faves like snakes, iguanas and tortoises. Starting at 11 a.m. daily, every hour on the hour until 5 p.m., visitors can log hands-on time with corn snakes, rosy boas and Rocko the Cuban rock iguana, before hitting up the tortoises for some face time. They’re always up for some petting and good conversation with the excited minis who visit them. Wrap up your trip with a picnic in their covered area. On warm, summer days you and your sidekick can nosh next to the tortoises who spend sunny days slowly free-roaming the garden.

Good to know: If you’re looking for an extra thrill, plan your trip to Monroe around the 1 p.m. weekend feeding times. There’s nothing quite like watching fierce reptiles chow down on their faves.

22715 State Route 2
Monroe, WA 98272
Online: thereptilezoo.org


Outback Kangaroo Farm

Hop on over to this beyond-the-everyday farm in Arlington. Dedicated to educating the public about some of Australia’s amazingly original animals, this petting farm tips the scales on usual finds. During the 40-minute guided tour, kiddos can interact with and sometimes feed kangaroos, pygmy goats, wallabies, wallaroos, llamas, lemurs, alpacas and more. Psst...be sure to bring your camera to this one! There are plenty of post-worthy photo ops your won’t want to miss!

Good to know: The farm is closed to visitors Monday and Tuesday, but once hump day hits, it’s a great time to make a trip to the Outback!

10030 State Route 530 N.E.
Arlington, WA 98223
Online: outbackkangaroofarm.com

Kelsey Creek Farm

Bellevue’s favorite petting farm is a family hot spot on sunny days. And although parents think the picnic-able fields and wide stroller-friendly paths are the big draw, their kidlets know it’s all about the animals. Easy-to-follow signs keep the Littles learning as they make the rounds on the farm’s self-guided tour around the barns and pens. This is where they can check out chickens, stare down pigs and baa with the best of ‘em strolling around the property. The park is free to wander, and you can find the animals in their pastures from 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. rain or shine. Our favorite part? When your little farm hand has finally had his fill of Old McDonald’s pals, you can head to the playground for some sliding, swinging and jumping before hitting the road. Yee-haw!

Farm Extra: Mark your calendars for Sat., Oct 6 to celebrate fall at the farm. There will be children's crafts, inflatables, entertainment, tractor rides, animal encounters and more!

Good to know: Touring the farm with your PEPS, co-op or other parenting group in October or November and May is a blast! Plan it now while you can!

410 130th Pl. S.E.
Bellevue, WA 98008
Online: farmerjayne.com

photo: Lindsay Engler

Forest Park Animal Farm

Wander with your waddler around this farm in Everett, where you'll find ducks, rabbits, pigs, goats and ponies looking for a meet-and-greet with your group. The farm is open daily now through August 19, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., and admission is free, although donations to help cover feed and farm costs are always appreciated. Since this park is run by the parks and recreation department, you'll find plenty to do here once your kids have petted themselves out, like a playground, spray park and plenty of shade to take refuge while the kids cool off on a hot day. Sounds like a great way to spend a lazy day with your favorite friends!

Good to know: If your fam is on the lookout for a furry friend, give one a test run with Forest Animal Farms’ Bunny Care Program. For $35, you and the kids can keep an eye on one of their bunnies for up to three days to see how well a critter would integrate into your family.

802 E. Mukilteo Blvd.
Everett, WA 98203
Online: everettwa.gov/773/Animal-Farm

Northwest Trek

Any day at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park in Eatonville is a great day to spot bison, elk, moose and more in the 435-acre park. But when it comes to a different kind of animal experience, the Keeper Adventure Tours ($80/non-members; $90/members) are a behind-the-scenes experience you’ve gotta try, especially if you’re a fan of the Northwest natives that make their home here. It’s a chance to interact with them that goes beyond the everyday tram tour. The trick is riding in back of the keeper’s truck. Not only do you get to put their knowledge to the test (they’ve got great facts and stories saved up just for these trips!), but the animals know these folks bring the food. So they saunter up to the back of the truck without much prompting, giving you and your crew a serious thrill. The tours book Thursday through Saturday at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m., from July 26 to Sept. 29.

Good to know: The tours are open to families with kiddos age 5 & up, and can be booked day-of, but be sure to arrive early if this is the plan!

11610 Trek Dr. E.
Eatonville, WA 98328
Online: nwtrek.org

Wolf Haven International

You little critter won’t get to pet these wily wolves. But walking through the wolf enclosure here is as close as you can get to these magnificent creatures. Each 50-minute walking tour is an educational experience you won’t forget, filled with fun facts and specific details about each of the 10-12 wolves and coyotes you’ll see along the way. Their stories are engaging, but do require lots of listening and looking as your “pack” makes its way around the short wolf den loop. So saving this one for kiddos seven and up is best. Once you’ve met the elusive residents, you can rest easy listening to wolf howls outside the enclosure during a sunny day picnic (pack one for your crew!). Or traipse through the wolf cemetery, out to the 300-year old grandfather tree to add a hiking and climbing adventure to your day.

Good to know: Book online or make a call on your way down to reserve a tour spot!

3111 Offut Lake Rd. S.E.
Tenino, WA 98589
Online: wolfhaven.org

Fox Hollow Farm

One of our most fave farms to visit any time of year, Fox Hollow Family Farm makes planning an easy, active day with your kiddo a cinch. Spring and summer are one of the best times to visit the animals, because the yard is bursting with babies waiting to be doted on by your sweet babe. You’ll find baby turkeys, kittens, chicks, ducklings, piglets and bunnies roaming the grassy field looking for a lap to doze in. There’s no place they’d rather be on a warm spring day! After your crew’s reached their cuddly animal limit, take a spin around the property on their mini ATV’s or hit the trail for a pony ride along the Issaquah Creek and back. While you’re there you might notice kiddos wading into the shallow stream or tubing in the heat of the afternoon sun. If you’d like to join in on the fun, feel free to do so (psst…remember to bring your own tube)! Then, hit the water slide, bouncy houses, hayloft swing, corn bin and life-sized playhouses if your sidekick still has any energy left.

Good to Know: Be sure to snag an Open Farm spot online before heading over.

12301 Issaquah-Hobart Rd. S.E.
Issaquah, WA 98027
Online: foxhollowfamilyfarm.com

Farrel-McWhirter Farm Park

Fill the picnic basket and pack the kite for a trip to Farrel-McWhirter Farm, because you’ll find more than your farm animal faves at this city park in Redmond. It’s a great spot to spend a lazy afternoon when the sun is nudging your family outside. And the wide-open field is a toddler’s dream. They can keep going and going and going while you easily keep an eye on them from your peaceful picnic blanket. Then, there are the easily hikeable trails that run through the lush forest on the property. And that’s all before your tiny tot hits the barns to see his or her favorite barnyard friends. They’re all there—goats, sheep, horses, pigs and more—doing their thing and eager for some attention from their youngest fans. Consider this a morning or afternoon well spent!

Good to know: If you’re little equestrian's looking to get her horse on, this is a good place to give it a try. The riding school on the property offers classes to kids as young as two-and-a-half years old. 

19545 N.E. Redmond Rd.
Redmond, WA 98053
Online: facebook.com/FMFarmPark

Redmond Petting Farm

Tiny animals make for big fun at this smaller petting farm in Redmond. We love it because it’s an easy spot for Eastside families looking to get up close with cuddly critters. If casual and quick is what you’re looking for, the Farm Tour is just the right speed. It can last anywhere from 15 to 90 minutes, depending on your group’s thoughtful questions and attention spans (we’re looking at you, toddlers), and it’s easily customized to whatever piques your interest about the furry farm residents. The Farm Workshops are intentionally focused on education. Time is spent with each animal (think: donkeys, fainting goats, bunnies, chinchillas and sheep) learning all you’ve ever wanted to know about their personalities and habits. You’ll leave with a wealth of knowledge you didn’t have before. Whichever option you choose, this indoor/outdoor farm won’t disappoint.

Good to know: Try your hand at camel riding for a unique farm experience when you visit Redmond Petting Farm.

25634 N.E. 80th St.
Redmond, WA 98053
Online: redmondpettingfarm.com

—Allison Sutcliffe


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