15 Fun Farms
The Delaware Valley is home to dozens upon dozens of farms and orchards that serve up family fun along with fruits, veggies and other local fare. MomSpeaker/special needs advocate Lisa Lightner has visited a wide range and makes notes about 15 that her family keeps in its sights.
We just love visiting farms. Both of my kids love seeing animals, Kevin in particular. He loves to see them, pet them and it helps us help him with language. He can say some of the words and mimic the sounds they make. So I thought, "Hey, how many fun family farms have we visited? And are we missing any?" I started to list them in my head. With warmer weather here and babies being born, now is a great time to get out and visit your local farm and the animals.
1. Baily's Dairy of Pocopson Meadow Farm, West Chester
Hands-down our all-time favorite. We go at least once a month and I just love their skim milk. In the spring you can visit all the baby cows, and they also host an annual egg hunt around Easter. Just a great place to visit and it is free except for what you purchase. They have bunnies, ducks, geese, chickens/roosters, cats, cows, goats, sheep . . . I think I got them all.
2. The Barn at Spring Brook Farm, West Chester (special needs only, I believe)
I'm embarrassed to say that I've never been to this place. It's always on my to-do list; it just never gets to-done. The Barn sits on 13 acres of open space, including green pastures, gardens and nature trails. The fully accessible Chester Co. bank barn was designed specifically to provide children with disabilities, including autism spectrum disorders, to participate in animal-assisted activities. The family-centered approach allows parents and children to identify specific goals to achieve through interaction with miniature horses, donkeys, goats and rabbits. One of their keys to success is providing a safe, nurturing environment where kids can have fun while supporting therapies they may be receiving. They also offer organized programs and summer camps.
3. Cherry Crest Adventure Farm, Ronks
Cherry Crest has a ton of things to do, including animals, corn mazes, hay rides and more. But it also gets very crowded during the peak months and I find it to be one of the more expensive farm outings. Still, it's lots of fun. I personally would take older kids here and not babies/toddlers. Check out this map of what they offer and you'll see what I mean; it's a big, noisy place. Again, my son does not do well in big crowds, particularly if we are out in the sun, so I do not take him here.
4. Coverdale Farm Preserve, Greenville, DE
This is another one of our local favorites. The animals are very well laid out for easy access for kids to visit. They also have a small farm store and plenty of events scheduled throughout the year. I have previously done a full special needs travel review.
5. Green Ridge, Parkesburg/Coatesville
Very hard to find information, as it appears they do not have a website or Facebook page, so my guess is that it is run by Amish or Mennonites. It's on Octorara Rd., in either Parkesburg or Coatesville. From what I can find from random postings and Yellow Page listings, it appears that fall is their big season. They do have animals and are likely closed on Sunday.
6. Highland Orchards, West Chester
Offers many fun activities for kids, including hay rides, story time and pick your own. This one is a bit sentimental to me because it is one of the first activities we did with Kevin when he was a baby. They have animals sometimes, not out in all weather.
7. Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site, Elverson
I wrote up a full special needs review of our visit here. They do have animals there you can visit with, as well as many other activities for kids, including the Junior Ranger program that included a scavenger hunt.
8. Hurricane Hill Farm Corn Maze, Coatesville
Only open in the fall; offers a corn maze and other fun things to do for families.
9. Kreider Farms, Manheim
It's a working dairy farm that offers tours. Seems to be more scheduled and organized rather than the low-key random wandering that we do at Coverdale and Baily's, if that makes sense.
10. Linvilla Orchards, Media
I've actually been here only once and that was recently to play mini-golf. In the winter they offer mini-golf in one of their buildings. They sell plenty in the warmer months. Linvilla has a ton to offer as far as activities for kids — the animals, mini-golf, all kinds of festivals and pick your own, a gift shop. But it is a busy place. It sits right outside of Philadelphia, but once you're there you'd never know how close to the city you are. Fun but busy.
11. Milburn Orchards, Elkton, MD
This is one of our family favorites and we meet our cousins there every fall. Tons of playground equipment, animals to visit and feed, pick your own, food, games . . . . In recent years, they have raised prices to $10 a person in fall, which is their peak season when they offer the most activities. However, in the summer it is often free and much less crowded. Even during the busy fall months they often offer $1 Fridays and other specials, so poke around the Internet before you go.
12. Milky Way Farm, Chester Springs
A creamery, birthday parties and tours/learning activities about sustainable farming are just some of the things they offer for families.
13. Ryerss Farm for Aged Equines, Pottstown
Ryerss Farm cares for aged, abused or injured horses, providing a home where they can spend their golden years out to pasture. The horses at Ryerss are never worked, go to auction or are used for experiments. They simply spend their days grazing and enjoying life with their friends, as part of the herd.
14. Farmland Fun at Verdant View, Paradise
Offers a whole bunch of different tours and visiting options for kids of all ages.
15. Woodside Farm Creamery, Hockessin, DE
A really fun place to visit even if you are just stopping for an ice cream cone. They offer plenty of events for families and kids on their "Events Cow-lendar."
If you want to do an overnight on a farm, I found this list of Farms in Pennsylvania where they have either a guesthouse or B&B attached.
Lisa Lightner is a Chester County, PA mom of two. This post was adapted from the blog A Day in Our Shoes, which she co-authors. It provides support, resources and advocacy services for parents of children with special needs.