Petting Zoos and Animal Farms Your Kids Will Love to Visit in Ohio

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Kids love animals! At these petting zoos and animal farms in Ohio, kids (and adults) can get up close to the animals, petting them or feeding them until their heart’s content!

These animal farms in Ohio come in all shapes and sizes. You can drive through, walk through or even get right up in the pen with animals! Whatever your level of comfort of proximity with animal tongues and teeth, there’s something on this list for everyone!

In Ohio we have some pretty amazing opportunities to see animals that you wouldn’t expect to see! Sure there are the expected, cows, horses and goats, but we also have exotic animals you’d expect to see on an African Safari! Whether you’re looking for giraffes and zebras or you just want to pet a cute little baby goat, we’ve got it all here in the great state of Ohio! 

goat looking over a fence at the petting zoo at Olentangy Indian Caverns.

Check out this list of petting zoos and animal farms in different parts of the state and plan your next up close encounter!

Petting Zoos and Animal Farms in Northern Ohio

The Farm at Walnut Creek

  • 4147 Co Rd. 114, Sugarcreek, OH 44681

boy reaching through the fence to pet a cow at The Farm at Walnut Creek.

The Farm at Walnut Creek is a fun experience for kids! Take a wagon ride to get up close and feed exotic animal and learn a little bit about the Amish way of life in Sugarcreek, Ohio! 

Not only can you visit a working Amish farm but you can take a wagon ride (or drive) through the grounds to feed kangaroos, zebras, giraffes, elk, deer, pot-bellied pigs, llamas, camels, and many more! 

African Wildlife Safari

  • 267 S Lightner Rd., Port Clinton, OH 43452

llama poking its head into the car at the African Safari Wildlife Park.

This drive through safari gives you the chance to get up close to exotic animals we don’t see every day in Ohio. See and feed giraffes, camels, zebras, llamas and more! The African Safari Wildlife Park is a seasonal activity – open spring through fall.

Within the park there is also a walk-through experience included in your ticket price that includes an albino alligator, birds, kangaroo and other animals in a zoo-like exhibit. This area also includes a playground, gift shop, snack shop and the opportunity to take a camel ride!

Lagoon Deer Park

  • 1502 Martins Point Rd., Sandusky, Ohio 44870

At Lagoon Deer Park you can hand feed deer and animals from all over the world! There are also 4 ponds for fishing and camping is available on Friday and Saturday nights.

Ohio Bird Sanctuary

  • 3774 Urweiler Rd., Mansfield, OH 44903

boy feeding a bird at Ohio Bird Sanctuary.

Ohio Bird Sanctuary is home to birds who can no longer live in the wild. You can walk through an outdoor exhibit to see the birds close up. There is also a Song Bird Aviary where visitors can purchase a cup of food and feed the birds! Birds will come up and eat the food right out of the cup in your hand!

The grounds also include a natural play area, trails for hiking and a butterfly garden. Check out this list of things to do in Mansfield before you visit!

Majestic Meadows Alpaca Farm

  • 4195 Abbeyville Rd., Medina, OH 44256

Visit this Alpaca farm and boutique 7 days a week. A reservation is required to visit the alpacas. There is a charge to visit the alpacas and animals can be pet and fed with grain for purchase at the boutique!

Lake Metroparks Farmpark

  • 8800 Euclid Chardon Rd. (Rt. 6), Kirtland, Ohio 44094

Part of the Lake Metroparks, this is a working farm and educational center in Kirkland, Ohio featuring cows, pigs, sheep, chicken, rabbits, horses, alpacas and goats! Wagon rides are available and there is a plant science center, playground, farm machines and more! There is a daily admission fee to visit.

Hersberger’s Farm and Bakery

  • 5452 OH-557, Millersburg, OH 44654

tall brown horse at Hershberger's Farm.

Hersberger’s Farm is home to a petting zoo where kids can pet farm animals. They also offer pony and horse rides!
Also on the premises is an Amish bakery featuring baked goods, canned goods, produce and flowers. There is also a farm store with other non-perishable items!

Our Little World Alpacas

  • 16800 Cowley Rd., Grafton, OH 44044

Schedule a private farm tour to meet the alpacas up close or visit the farm for special events! 

Malabar Farm State Park

  • 4050 Bromfield Rd., Lucas, OH 44843 

goats behind a fence at Malabar Farm.

Malabar Farm is one of Ohio’s State Parks. The property features a campground, fishing, hiking trails, a visitor Center and buildings that were part of the homestead of author Louis Bromfield.

The working farm can be toured and animals in the barn include pigs, goats, sheep, cows, horses and more! Look for babies in the spring! Malabar Farm is free to visit! 

Wagon Trails

  • 907 Youngstown Kingsville Rd. SE, Vienna, OH 44473

45 minute narrated safari trips are available at Wagon Trails where you can see 350 animals from 6 different continents! There is also a petting zoo that is included with admission. Food is for sale separately.

Petting Zoos and Animal Farms in Central Ohio

Olentangy Indian Caverns

  • 1779 Home Rd., Delaware, OH 43015

boy feeding a goat at the petting zoo at Olentangy Indian Caverns in Ohio.

Olentangy Indian Caverns has a great petting zoo with two sides: one for goats and other animals and a separate side just for deer. The petting zoo area is large and there are goats, pigs, a zebu, and sheep. Cups of feed are for sale and the animals will be very excited to see you arrive bearing food!

The grounds are also home to many other activities including cavern tours, mini golf, a playground, gem mining and more!

Slate Run Living Historical Farm

  • 1375 OH-674, Canal Winchester, OH 43110

horse in a fence in front of the barn at Slate Run Historical Farm in central Ohio.

Slate Run Farm is part of Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks. Visit a working farm 1880’s style. Visit the barns to see pigs, horses, turkeys and more! If you visit in the spring, you are likely to see babies!

Ohio Wildlife Center

  • 6131 Cook Rd., Powell, Ohio 43065

boy in front of the bird cage at Ohio Wildlife Center.

Ohio Wildlife Center is home to animals that have been hurt and can no longer live in the wild! The center offers special open house hours and events. Walk the grounds to see the resident animals or attend an event to meet an ambassador animal up close! Be sure to check their schedule before visiting! 

Stratford Ecological Center

  • 3083 Liberty Rd., Delaware, OH 43015

boy looking at the sheep at Stratford Ecological Center, an animal farm in Delaware Ohio.

Stratford Ecological Center is an organic farm and nature preserve. Visitors can explore the grounds and visit the animals in the barn! Babies are usually born every spring which is a fun sight to see! The grounds are home to a pond, garden and barn. Special events take place throughout the year.

Sunrise Sanctuary

  • 16730 Martin Welch Rd., Marysville, OH 43040

Sunrise Sanctuary is home to rescued animals that were abandoned, abused or neglected. The Sanctuary is only open on monthly Open Barn Days. Tickets are required to visit. You can visit with and pet the resident animals during these special days but no feeding is allowed.

Idle Hour Ranch

  • 4845 Fenner Rd., Troy, OH 45373

Idle-Hour Ranch offers a drive-thru safari, camel rides, pony rides, gemstone mining, and more!

Carriage Hill Historical Farm

  • 7800 Shull Rd., Huber Heights, OH 45424

Part of the Five Rivers Metroparks, this historical farm serves to teach us about our agricultural heritage and functions as a farm would in the 1880s. The grounds includes a farmhouse, visitor center, live enactments and a barn that is home to horses, sheep, hogs and chickens!

Horse-N-Round Fun

boy and dad petting a horse in Galloway, Ohio.

Horse-N-Round Fun offers special events for the public. They can also be reserved for corporate events, birthday parties and more! Public events offer horse back rides and petting zoos. Follow them on Facebook to see where to join in on the fun next! 

Bring the Farm to You

You can find Bring the Farm to You popping up around Central Ohio doing just what the name suggests: bringing animals and hands-on farm fun to you. They offer programs for parties, programs and you can find them at special events. 

Petting Zoos and Animal Farms in Southern Ohio

Glen Helen Raptor Center

  • 1075 OH-343, Yellow Springs, OH 45387

boys looking at the birds at Glen Helen Raptor Center in Yellow Springs, Ohio.

The Glen Helen Raptor Center is part of the Glen Helen Nature Preserve in Yellow Springs, Ohio. The Raptor Center offers rehabilitation to injured raptors with the goal of releasing them back into the wild. You can visit the center to see the birds that live there or attend an educational event. 

The Wilds

  • 14000 International Rd., Cumberland, OH 43732

a camel coming up to the bus at the drive through safari at The Wilds in Ohio.

Take an African safari tour right here in Ohio! The Wilds is the largest wildlife conservation center in North America and you can tour the grounds in an open air safari! This is a really unique experience that includes a lot of educational information about how The Wilds has contributed to the conservation of endangered animals.

Other special experiences are available such as a Fishing Safari, an overnight in a yurt, a zipline, and other up-close experiences.  

Young’s Jersey Dairy

  • 6880 Springfield Xenia Rd., Yellow Springs, OH 45387

boy feeding a goat at the petting zoo at Young's Jersey Dairy in Ohio.

Young’s Dairy is home to, you guessed it, cows! Visit the cows up close or visit the barn to hand feed goats! Feed is available in the Dairy Store. You may also be able to watch cows being milked if you arrive in the late afternoon!  

There are lots of other activities at Young’s Jersey Dairy including mini golf, batting cages, slides, and more! Plus don’t miss the ice cream!

Zoos in Ohio

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

  • 4850 Powell Rd., Powell, OH 43065 

boy looking at fish at the aquarium at Columbus Zoo in Ohio.

Visit the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium to see all kinds of animals! Special experiences are available in order to get up close and personal with some of your favorite animals!

The zoo is home to a petting zoo that is included with admission. It is in the North America section of the zoo and you can pet goats and sheep or ride a pony! (Pony rides are an additional fee.) 

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

  • 3900 Wildlife Way, Cleveland, OH 44109 

Visit hundreds of animals at the zoo! Special experiences are available including getting up close with an ambassador animal! There is a petting zoo in the Australian Adventure Area called Kookaburra Station featuring sheep, goats, miniature donkeys and more! 

Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden

  • 3400 Vine St., Cincinnati, OH 45220

The Spaulding Children’s Zoo at Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden includes animal encounters, a playground, and a petting yard where kids can interact with goats and sheep! 

Toledo Zoo and Aquarium

  • 2 Hippo Way, Toledo, OH 43609 

Nature’s Neighborhood at Toledo Zoo and Aquarium includes live animal shows, a stream and beach, and a tree house. It also includes indoor areas to explore and a petting zoo featuring farm animals. 

Akron Zoo

  • 500 Edgewood Ave., Akron, OH 44307

Akron Zoo is home to over 700 animals. Have up-close encounters with animals at the Learning Lab (open May-September). VIP experiences are also available and allow you to interact with animals and see them behind the scenes!

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Your Kids Will Love These Animal Farms and Petting Zoos in Ohio.


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10 Family Friendly Things to do at Olentangy Indian Caverns

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Olentangy Indian Caverns provides a fun day out for families! With cave tours, mini golf, a petting zoo, gem mining, a large maze and more, kids will have fun and learn something, too!

Thanks to Olentangy Indian Caverns for hosting us!

You might only think of caverns and caves when planning a visit to Olentangy Indian Caverns in Delaware, Ohio, but descending into caves is not the only thing there is to do at this family friendly destination!

Gift shop at Olentangy Indian Caverns

If you have never been to Olentangy Indian Caverns, I think you will be surprised at all there is to do. The great part about it is that it’s not a package deal – your family can pick any one of these things to do on the property to customize your day according to your time and budget!

You’ll see throughout this blog post that I have used pictures from multiple visits (wow, kids grow fast!) Here are 10 things you can do at Olentangy Indian Caverns:

1. Cavern Tour

kids going down the steps into the caverns

Obviously, the first thing you’re going to think of is the Cavern tour. The caverns are naturally made tunnels and caves that were, at one time, used by Native Americans for hiding, meetings, shelter, etc. You can do a self-guided tour of the caverns or join in on a group tour with a live guide.

kids walking through the Olentangy Indian Caverns

Our guide was great, giving us the history, telling us stories and answering all of our questions! Cavern tours are $9.95 for those 13 years old and up and $6.95 for children age 3-12. Ages 2 and under are free.

a tour guide talking at Olentangy Indian Caverns

a kid pointing to a fossil in the caves

Finding a fossil!

There are a lot of steps to go up and down and the caverns are often wet. We had to hop over and through a couple of puddles on our journey. I was glad I had chosen to wear closed toed shoes for that reason. So keep your family’s footwear in mind when planning for the trip as things may be wet and/or slippery.

two boys going down the steps into Olentangy Indian Caverns

The youngest child on our tour was just under two and she had a great time, but if you have a non-walker I would recommend an on-body baby carrier of some sort. You can’t take a stroller in and I couldn’t imagine carrying an infant car seat, but many of you might be stronger than me . . . 😉

2. Richard F. Leitch Museum at Olentangy Indian Caverns

a man and boy inside the museum at Olentangy Indian Caverns

The entrance to the caverns is housed in a small museum where you can read about the history of the caverns and some of the famous and infamous things that happened there, and see the bones of an ox that fell down to its untimely death around 1818 (or 1821, depending on the story!). There are also arrowheads and lots of other artifacts related to the caverns.

bones inside the museum

3. Treasure Hunt Maze

The Treasure Hunt Maze at Olentangy Indian Caverns

When you purchase admission to the Treasure Hunt Maze you will receive 3 tokens. Explore the maze to find 3 treasure stops! You can use the tokens to get your three treasures and then work to find your way out!

boy inside the Treasure Hunt Maze

I can promise it is way harder than it looks! Admission is $5/person. 

two boys finding the treasure inside the Treasure Hunt Maze at Olentangy Indian Caverns in Delaware, Ohio

4. Mini Golf

Mini Golf course at Olentangy Indian Caverns in Ohio

The option of mini-golf is available on the property. There are 18 holes and the cost is just $3/person.

5. Gem Mining

Two boys gem mining at Olentangy Indian Caverns

After our cavern tour, we did some gem mining! This was another first for our boys and I was honestly surprised how much they loved this! (Though when I think about it, the act of digging through dirt, stones and water to find treasure sounds exactly like their idea of a good time! 😉 ) 

a boy mining for gems at Olentangy Indian Caverns

A bag of sand/stones/gems is provided and you use a strainer of sorts and a small stream of water to sift through the sand to find gemstones! There is a range of bag sizes available and prices range from $5.99 – $9.99/bag.

kids mining for gems at Olentangy Indian Caverns

6. Petting Zoo

outside the petting zoo at Olentangy Indian Caverns

There is a rather large petting zoo area on the property at Olentangy Indian Caverns! There are goats, cows, sheep and even deer who will happily eat out of your hand! If your kids are skittish (like mine) there is a fenced in area where the kids can stand inside and feed the animals from behind the fence.

a boy feeding a goat at the petting zoo at Olentangy Indian Caverns

After some shrieks, we started out here and then eventually ventured into the large open area. My kids were scared of the cows but loved the smaller goats. 

This could definitely be unique a stand-alone activity! The cost for a wristband to enter the petting zoo is $4 and a small bag of food can be purchased for $1, a large bag for $3.

 a man feeding a goat and a cow at Olentangy Indian Caverns in Delaware Ohio

 

a father and son feeding a goat at the petting zoo at Olentangy Indian Caverns

young boy looking at a goat at Olentangy Indian Caverns petting zoo.

 

inside the petting zoo at Olentangy Indian Caverns

There is also separate area for feeding and petting deer!

kid petting a deer inside the deer petting area at Olentangy Indian Caverns

boys looking for rabbits at Olentangy Indian Caverns

There are also rabbits and chickens on the farm. They are not for petting, but still fun to spot! 

7. Playground

wooden playground area with yellow slides

The playground at Olentangy Indian Caverns is a destination in itself, especially if you ask my boys! This is the one activity they wanted to come back to again and again! I had to peel them away from the playground to do the other activities!

wooden playground structures at Olentangy Indian Caverns

The play structure is quite large and includes a couple of climbing walls, tube slides, and a really great wooden train structure!

Olentangy Indian Caverns playground with train structure

8. Picnic Area

On the grounds there is a pavilion with picnic tables and covered areas. You can bring your own food here for a picnic lunch or reserve the shelter for a group event!

pavilion for picnics at Olentangy Indian Caverns

There are also many picnic tables scattered around the property for a rest or a snack!

picnic tables on the property

9. Gift Shop at Olentangy Indian Caverns

outside view of the gift shop at Olentangy Indian Caverns

Pick up souvenirs (and all your activity tickets) at the Gift Shop! There was a surprisingly large amount of merchandise from toys and t-shirts to souvenirs and jewelry!

inside view of the gift shop at Olentangy Indian Caverns

10. Have a Birthday Party or Group Event at Olentangy Indian Caverns

You can also have a birthday party or other group event here! The shelters are available for rental and for groups of 25 or more you can receive a discount on the price of the activities. See info here!

Know Before You Go:

  • 1779 Home Rd. Delaware, OH 43015, 740-548-7917
  • The Caverns are open from April 1st – October 31st, every day from 9:30 AM – 5:00 PM.
  • Guided tours are only available June through August. You may do a self-guided tour during the other times.

Looking for more to do when you’re in Delaware, Ohio? Check out: Exploring Delaware with Your Kids!

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Ohio Caves and Caverns at Olentangy Indian Caverns in Delaware, Ohio


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4 Nature-Themed Story Times Around Columbus

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These four nature-themed story times around Columbus combine stories with great educational, hands on experiences!

I’ve mentioned probably more than a few times that my kids are really into bugs right now. So, when I saw that Ohio Wildlife Center had a story time about insects, we were there! It prompted the idea to put together a list of story times with a nature theme.

The bonus is that these story times also come with so much more than just a story! Maybe there’s a craft, animals to meet or a woods to explore – whatever the case may be, these story times make a for a great way learn AND have an up-close, hands-on experience with nature!

1. Ohio Wildlife Center

Times: Second Wednesday of the month
Location: 6131 Cook Rd. Powell, OH 43065
Phone: 614-734-9453
Cost: $5 for anyone over 5, including adults.

Ohio Wildlife Center hosts a Wild Story Time on the first Wednesday of each month. Check the calendar here. We went in July and the theme was Insects. As I said, my boys are REALLY into bugs right now so they were completely enthralled! There were a couple of stories with an insect theme and then a visit from a resident opossum!

After the story time, we all got to take a tour of the grounds, check out the animals that live there, and then do an insect-themed craft!

When the program part was over, we were allowed to explore the grounds on our own so we borrowed some binoculars and went on a hike through the woods and looped back around to visit the animals again! Ohio Wildlife Center cares for wild animals that have been hurt or abandoned and then releases them as they are able. Some of the animals housed on the grounds included raccoons, coyotes, owls, turkeys and more.

The Ohio Wildlife Center is not open to the public on a daily basis so in order to visit, you need to attend a story time or one of their “Open to the Public” events which takes place on the second Sunday of each month.

2. Grange Insurance Audubon Center

Times: Thursdays and Saturdays at 10:00 AM
Location: 505 W. Whittier St. Columbus, OH 43215
Phone: 614-545-5475
Cost: Free

Twice a week the Pre-K Storytime is held at the Grange Insurance Audubon Center in partnership with Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks. See the calendar of events here (search for Scioto Audubon program). The story time takes place in the beautiful library at the Audubon Center with a stunning view of downtown Columbus.

Afterwards you can visit the aquatic animals and play in the indoor play area. Outside the Audubon Center is a sandbox, playground and rock climbing wall. See 9 Things to do with Your Kids at Scioto Audubon.

3. Franklin Park Conservatory

Times: Thursdays at 10:30 AM
Location: 1777 E. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43203
Phone: 614-715-8000
Cost: Included with admission or membership

Franklin Park Conservatory is currently hosting a Nature Storytime on Mondays and Thursdays at 10:30 AM in the Scotts Miracle Grow Foundation Children’s Garden. This is appropriate for kids ages 3-8 and features stories that celebrate gardens, plants and nature. Of course afterwards you can enjoy the amazing Children’s Garden which is full of hands on activities!

Franklin Park Conservatory hosts several new events and programs in the garden. See the upcoming schedule of events here.

We attended the Little Adventurers Program last summer, which took place indoors. The book was The Very Lonely Firefly by Eric Carle and the craft was making a firefly with a glittery (“glowing”) body. Ok, let’s be honest, due to a rain storm and circumstances beyond my control, we were about 10 minutes late and missed the story, but you get the point! 😉 The boys had just spent the previous weekend catching fireflies at their grandparents’ house so this craft was extra appealing to them! The Little Adventurers program is free with admission or membership!

 

Afterwards, check out the Enchanted Forest, a children’s play area on the lower level and take a walk through Blooms and Butterflies (open March – September) to see butterflies up close and personal. Newly emerged butterflies are released every day at 1:00 PM and 3:00 PM.

4. Stratford Ecological Center

Times: Second Tuesday of the month from 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM
Location: 3083 Liberty Rd., Delaware, OH 43015
Phone: 740-363-2548
Cost: $5 per family

Stratford Ecological Center hosts Story Time on the Farm on the second Tuesday of each month at 10:00 AM starting in March and running through November. See the Calendar of Events. We haven’t actually been to the story time here yet, but we have been to the farm and I have heard that the story time is very popular! The story time lasts an hour and is based on what is going on at the farm during the current season! After the story time, you can explore the farm, dig in the dirt and visit the animals! See A Day on the Farm: 5 Things to do at Stratford Ecological Center.

 

Where is your favorite local story time?

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ICYMI: Summer Nights in Columbus: Something to do Every Night of the Week

Need more ideas? Check out Over 100 Fun Things to do in Columbus, Ohio

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