Add some animal magic to a family day out with a visit to one of East England’s best petting zoos and farms.
Children love getting close to animals. Whether it’s cuddling a cute rabbit, grooming a pony, bottle feeding a kid goat or seeing a newborn lamb take its first steps – a trip to a petting zoo is a wonderful experience. From getting up close to farmyard favourites to learning more about exotic species, we’ve picked some of the best petting zoos in the region for a perfect family day out.
Fordfield Road, Millbrook, Bedfordshire, MK45 2HZ
Animal Edge is an award-winning small farm surrounded by beautiful Bedfordshire countryside. Visits, which must be booked in advance, give exclusive access to the farm where children can tickle a pig or take a goat for a walk and teach them tricks. Drinks are served from a converted horse-box, or you can bring a picnic to enjoy while taking in the views.
Mead Open Farm
Stanbridge Road, Billington, Bedfordshire, LU7 9JH
From alpacas and calves to pygmy goats and piglets, baby animals are born at Mead Farm throughout the year. But spring is perhaps the most special time when the pregnant ewes give birth to fluffy, bouncy lambs. With go-karts, crazy golf, sand play and award-winning food in the Grainstore Kitchen, it’s a great family day out.
Wimpole Home Farm
Arrington, Royston, Cambridgeshire, SG8 0BW
Discover rare breeds and make friends with familiar farmyard favourites on this working estate with impressive mansion, parkland, and café. Visit the White Park cattle and Longhorns in the yard along with Shire and Shetland ponies. Meet the Oxford Sandy and Black pigs, rare breeds of sheep and mischievous goats skipping around the paddock. Find out more.
Old MacDonald’s Farm
Weald Road, Brentwood, Essex, CM14 5AY
There are so many animals to meet at this award-winning farm including meerkats, pigs, wallabies, rabbits, ponies, cows, chinchillas, rheas, tortoises, and wallabies. Don’t miss the Spring Babies event, which runs from February to April, when you can see the newborn farm animals. With rides, indoor play areas and a café, there’s plenty to keep the whole family happy.
Aldenham Country Park Farm
Aldenham Road, Elstree, Hertfordshire, WD6 3BA
A not-for-profit farming, food, and education enterprise where you can meet and feed the animals. Enjoy acres of countryside, explore the farm and the 100 Aker Wood, home of Pooh Bear and friends. There is also a pavilion and playground for children with special educational needs and you can enjoy a cuppa in the Rustic Rhubarb café. Read more.
South Angle Farm Park
Angle Common, Soham, Cambridgeshire, CB7 5HX
Cuddle the rabbits and bottle feed the lambs. Or, if you’re feeling brave, you can meet the reptiles and mini-beasts and say hello to the tarantula. There’s plenty to occupy the kids with sand play, a craft barn, reading corner, pedal-powered racetrack, woodland walk and watering cans aplenty in Mr McGregor’s garden. Plan your visit.
Willows Activity Farm
Coursers Road, London Colney, Hertfordshire, AL4 0PF
A day out for the whole family with farmyard animals, shows, rides, inflatables, acres of outdoor space, and the popular Peter Rabbit Adventure Playground. Look out for their spring events which include Easter egg hunts, cow milking demonstrations, bottle feeding newborn lambs and sheep racing. Book your tickets.
Barleylands Farm Park
Barleylands Road, Billericay, Essex, CM11 2UD
Home to traditional farm animals as well as nocturnal and exotic creatures such as fruit bats, sugar gliders, skunks, snakes, tree frogs, chameleons, turtles, meerkats, and wild cats. You can make a day of it with playgrounds, racetracks, play barn and discovery centre, all set within The Village and its craft studios, boutiques, spa and restaurant. Find out more.
Bircham Road, King’s Lynn, Norfolk, PE31 7NG
A hands-on experience where you can bottle feed lambs, collect fresh farm eggs and ride ponies. A highlight is the deer safari when you can meet the spectacular herd who will come to say hello and happily feed from your hands. There’s plenty to keep your little ones amused with a play area, pedal tractors, tearoom and gift shop. Find out more.
Stow Bardolph Rare Breeds Centre
Church Farm, Downham Market, West Norfolk, PE34 3HT
You can make friends with the animals and meet all their young throughout the season. Hold a fluffy chick, give a dusty donkey a pamper, groom a goat, and stroke the rabbits, guinea pigs and rats. With an adventure playground, indoor play area, tractor rides and even pig racing, there’s plenty to see and do. Find out more.
Pannington Hall Lane, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP9 2AR
The Wildlife Park at Jimmy’s hosts traditional and exotic animals from crocodiles, camels and capybara to pigs, skunks, and guinea pigs. For an even closer encounter, pick an Animal Experience and join a keeper in the animal’s enclosure – feed an anteater with an impressive 60cm tongue, handle a snake, give a tapir a belly rub or pet the cute rabbits and mischievous ferrets.
Baylham House Rare Breeds Farm
Mill Lane, Baylham, Suffolk IP6 8LG
A small farm specialising in native breeds that are now rare. Balance food on the outstretched tongue of a cow or tickle the belly of a piglet. And, if you’d really like to experience life on the farm, you can step into the farmer’s boots for a day – an exciting gift for any animal lover!