Visiting a farm can be a real adventure for city and suburban kids. Getting up close to and even feeding farm animals can lead to lots of fun and unexpected learning. We've rounded up some tried and true nearby options where your family can spend a day in the country and meet some new barnyard friends.
For fun on the farm it’s hard to beat nearby Purina Farms. Located in Grey’s Summit, Purina Farms offers up-close interaction with farm animals, but also thrilling Incredible Dog Shows, knowledgable, animal-loving trainers on-site and educational exhibits, open Wednesdays through Sundays through October, with free admission.
Near the Visitor’s Center, you’ll find the Barn and Hayloft Play Area, housing sheep, horses, goats, cows, hogs, rabbits, a pot-bellied pig, chickens and other farm animals, and the petting ring, where kids can interact with chicks, piglets and baby rabbits. There are tunnels to crawl through, a rope to swing on and demonstrations throughout the day where you can try milking a cow. Visit Chickentopia, opened this year, the new chicken "playground," where you can learn about how to raise your own flock at home.
Grab lunch in the Checkerboard Cafe inside the Event Center, then catch the famous Incredible Dog Show, complete with flying disc, agility, and diving disc demonstrations in the pool! The Purina Incredible Dog Team consists of more than 20 remarkably gifted dogs and three trainers who entertain audiences with extraordinary skills and feats of athleticism. And it wouldn't be fall in St. Louis without Purina Farms' annual Howl-O-Ween festival on October 27-29 (more details coming soon).
Purina Farms, 500 William Danforth Way, Gray Summit, Mo. 63039. Open Wednesdays through Sundays from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with free admission. www.purina.com/purina-farms
Nestled in south St. Louis County is Suson Park and its working animal farm with horses, cows, goats, ponies, pigs, sheep, chickens, roosters, ducks, and a barn house for kids to explore. The park is open daily with free admission, but during monthly All Around the Barn Tours ($7), little ones can get up close to the animals while park staff demonstrate grooming, handling and feeding.
Upcoming All Around the Barn Tours are on August 18, September 1, September 22, October 6, October 20 and November 3 from 10 to 11 a.m. Register here (click on Programs/Activities and scroll down), or call 314-615-8822. The Barn House is open daily with free admission from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Suson Park, 6073 Wells Road, 63128. www.stlouiscountymo.gov
The Gentle Barn
Head out to The Gentle Barn in Dittmer, Missouri, to visit an animal sanctuary that aims to comfort people as well as animals. Cow Hug Therapy is just one comforting activity you’ll find there (more on that later). You’ll get to meet the St. Louis Six, a group of cows that escaped a slaughterhouse and ran through the streets of St. Louis on March 30, 2017, trying to find their way home. They now live peacefully in the countryside at The Gentle Barn, along with dozens of other animals, including Petunia the Pig, a “stray” pig found running along the side of a road, and Baron Von Goat, whose previous life was one of neglect where he was chained to a post. You’ll also meet chickens, turkeys, donkeys, sheep and ducks.
The public is welcome to visit The Gentle Barn on Sundays, although Cow Hug Therapy is not available during public Sundays and can be reserved for when you need some unconditional love from one of The Gentle Barn’s therapy cows. Sessions include meditation, hugging, centering, and an escape to the calm surrounding of the quiet barn. Cow Hug Therapy is for ages 14 and up. Private group tours for all ages are available on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Field trips for up to 30 kids are also available.
For Public Sundays, advance tickets are required and are $10 per person. Children under age 2 are free. You can also reserve lunch for an additional fee.
The Gentle Barn, Dittmer, Missouri. The exact location of the barn is disclosed when you make reservations. www.gentlebarn.org/missouri
Longmeadow Rescue Ranch
Longmeadow Rescue Ranch is an animal sanctuary affiliated with the Humane Society of Missouri located in Union, Mo. A day at the farm will include mingling with rescued horses, sheep, pigs, goats, turkeys and ducks, some of whom are adoptable. Families can visit on Fridays or Saturdays, and during special events like Spring Fling and Wagon Days.
Wagon Days include meeting the Barn Buddies and adoptable animals, and taking a wagon ride through the 165-acre facility. Visitors are welcome to pack a lunch, but food and refreshments will be available for purchase. Upcoming fall Wagon Days are set for September 9, October 7 and November 4, 2023 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day.
If, after a day on the farm, your family wants to help support these rescued animals, you can sponsor a Barn Buddy through a donation that will help feed, board and provide medical care to the animals that have found a safe haven at Longmeadow. Longmeadow also offers horseback riding lessons.
Longmeadow Rescue Ranch, 480 Joseph’s Road in Union, Mo., 63084. www.longmeadowrescueranch.org. Admission is free, even on Wagon Days. Family pets are not allowed. Open to the public every Friday from noon to 3 p.m. and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
This St. Louis institution is home to more than 900 animals, including the world-famous Clydesdales. For kids, the petting zoo is always a hit, with baby goats really for bottle-feeding, carousel rides, tram rides through Deer Park. Throughout the park you’ll find farm and exotic animals like lemurs, bison, cattle, rabbits, turtles, deer, a camel, llamas, and even parakeets. Sign up for the Animal Encounters Tour ($26) for the experience of feeding a baby camel or water buffalo and a tour of the zoo barn.
If the Clydesdales are your main attraction, plan a behind-the-scenes Clydesdale Close-Up Tour ($26). You’ll be able to pet these magnificent animals, visit the stables and see them in a more intimate setting. The Clydesdale Close-Up Tour is recommended for visitors ages 7 and up and must be booked in advance.
Grant’s Farm is open daily through August 20, then open for select tours and special events Thursdays through Sundays. Summer Nights at Grant’s Farm are held Fridays and Saturdays through Labor Day weekend and feature a drone show and live music. Fall special events include Oktoberfest on September 8-10 and 15-17, and Fall Fest and Halloween Nights in October. Watch for details in our Things To Do calendar.
Grant’s Farm 10501 Gravois Road, St. Louis, Mo., 63123. www.grantsfarm.com
Fall Farm Festival at The Magic House
The farm comes to you this fall at The Magic House. At the Fall Farm Festival on September 16, families can meet local farmers and visit with the farm animals they bring to the outdoor Play Garden.
The Fall Farm Festival is free with regular Magic House admission. Saturday, September 16 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at The Magic House in Kirkwood.
Photos courtesy of St. Louis County Parks, Grant's Farm, and Purina Farms.
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