- Visit North Central
There’s no doubt about it: kids and animals are always a winning combination for family fun and fabulous photographs.
From fluffy and friendly alpacas to dairy farm cows and even endangered livestock from around the world, you’ll find plenty of photogenic inhabitants in North Central Massachusetts to keep even the most fidgety family members entranced.
Cheese-lovers are sure to enjoy a visit to Smith’s Country Cheese in Winchendon. Kids can visit the cows, and if your timing is right, you can watch the cheese-making operations before stocking up on some tasty (and award-winning) treats to take home.
Nearby Red Apple Farm in Phillipston has a complete menagerie of farm animals, from pigs to chickens and goats, for the kids to see, touch and feed. It’s a place you’ll want to return to again and again as the seasons change — not just to visit the animals, but also to pick fresh fruits and vegetables, so that the youngsters can learn how their favorite foods grow.
Is there anything as soft as alpaca’s fur coat? The entire family will get a kick out of these entrancing creatures that hail from South America. Not only are they cute and cuddly-looking, they’re gentle and easy to handle. Alpacas don’t have incisor teeth, horns, hoofs or claws, and they don’t bite or butt, making them super safe for family visits. What more could you ask for? After the kids enjoy their visit to Plain View Alpaca Farm in Hubbardston, you might want to return without them for a relaxing Sunday afternoon of Yoga with the Alpacas, or maybe a leisurely llama walk. (And don’t forget to stop in the shop to check out the yarn, socks, dryer balls — and even stuffed toys— made from alpaca fiber!)
Want an animal adventure that’s a little less structured than Yoga? How about taking an hour-long hike with the goats at Central Mass. Goat Rental in Lunenburg? This farm rents out its goats in the summer to chomp away at unwanted underbrush and weeds — but through May, the goats are available to take an afternoon stroll with you! Goats tend to play while they hike, jumping on the stumps and rocks, running and throwing some side kicks. They have the natural instinct to play follow the leader, which makes them great hiking companions.
A visit to Rota Spring Farm in Sterling gives the youngsters a chance to check out the cows in the field, and visit the goat petting zoo. But wait! There’s more! Those cows are there for a reason — so bring your appetite: The home-made ice cream will make you glad you stopped by! After the kids make friends with the cows, they might want to dig into a cone packed with Cowabunga Crunch, Moo Tracks or Purple Cow ice cream. Yum!
And a family visit to North Central Massachusetts just wouldn’t be complete without a stop — no, make that an entire day — at Davis Farmland Children’s Discovery Farm in Sterling. The Davis family has spent decades gathering an eclectic assortment of endangered livestock from around the world. In addition to seeing these very special animals, the kids can ride a pony, help a farmer milk a goat, collect chicken eggs and bottle-feed the baby animals … and so much more.
Are you ready to talk to the animals? There’s no shortage of family-friendly farms to visit here! You’re sure to be sending lots of cute-as-a-button photos to your family and friends before you head back home.