America’s First Zoo is still the place to go when you want variety, but what about when you’re looking to get up-close-and-personal with the animals? That’s when it’s time to head to the petting zoo! Luckily, the Philadelphia area has a few good ones, because let’s face it—the only thing more fun than watching the kids get excited over baby goats and sheep is getting the chance to pet them yourself! –Chelsea Karnash
With more than 300 animals housed on its 16 acres, the Elmwood Park Zoo is actually a regular zoo—not a petting zoo. Still, they do have a “Petting Barn,” where the kids can coo over sheep and goats and feed them pellets or even ice cream. Plus, you can get through the place in just an hour or two, and there’s a large playground and pony rides, making this spot perfect for toddlers. Alas, Elmwood used to be free, but it’s still pretty reasonable—just $12 for adults and $9 for kids ages 3-12.
In addition to pick-your-own produce, a farmers’ market and a bakery, Johnson’s in Medford also offers a double whammy of fun for the kids with its Discovery Barn & Animal Farm. Both are included in a single admission option, so you and the kids are free to enjoy a rock climbing wall, go-karts, play areas separated by age group and a pretend farm after you pet the sheep, goats and chickens.
When it comes to farms, Linvilla is pretty much the ultimate. There are fields upon fields of produce, a massive farmers’ market, a garden center, pick-your-own galore and of course, a petting zoo. Children and adults alike will love watching, feeding and petting pigs, cows, ponies, emus, rabbits, chickens…the list goes on and on. A word of advice though: If you go during peak-season (September through Christmastime), be prepared for hordes of screaming kids, lines that could keep you waiting for hours and a harder time getting close to the animals.
Set in scenic Brandywine Park, this tiny gem of a zoo is just 16 acres, making it ideal for small children or slow-moving seniors. Realistically, you can get through the whole thing in under an hour, but make sure you spend ample time with the adorable goats inside the petting area!
At Lansdale’s Freddy Hill, kids can hang out with goats, sheep, pigs, llamas, deer, highland cattle and elk at the farm’s zoo, or try their hand at milking cows in the milking parlor. If that’s not enough to keep you busy, the farm has two mini golf courses, batting cages and tons and tons of flavors of FRESH HOMEMADE ICE CREAM (Cinnamon Bun, Butter Brickle, Bordeaux Cherry…okay, must stop before start drooling). Quite frankly, the trip is worth it for the ice cream alone!