The Victoria Bug Zoo boasts a bountiful collection of live and robust multi-pedied insects, housing everything from warm and fuzzy tarantulas to the cold-hearted giant centipedes that wander the Sonoran Desert. Your Groupon is good for an annual pass to the insectorium, where you can freely roam the colony of more than 40 species of ’sects, bypassing the glow-in-the-dark scorpions to make a bumble-bee-line to the 400-leg millipede or the enormous ant farm. While bugs are kept safely in glass-enclosed insectariums, the friendly staff is known for hands-on education and often releases the friendlier of the bugs to mingle and wander up and down the arms of brave visitors.
Years ago, Olympic Game Farm was a home for actors. The bears, cougars, and big cats who lived on the premises were all movie stars?most often for Disney Studios, which worked with and filmed the farm's animals for 28 years. The farm's founder, Lloyd Beebe, served as the go-to trainer, and his bond with the wildlife was reputedly amazing. During those early years, he even managed to tame five wolverines, who would eat raw egg out of his hands.
Today, Lloyd's grandson Robert runs the farm. For the most part, the animals are no longer film celebrities?although footage of the famous waving bears has gone viral and even appeared in a Carrie Underwood video, and some animal actors from elsewhere still retire to the farm. The majority are descendants of the original film animals, or rescues. Visitors can drive through the park to see zebras, elk, wolves, and lions, then head to the petting farm for an up-close encounter. They can even feed many of the animals?whole-grain bread is an accepted treat.
Though it started as a small berry stand in 1977, Maan Farms Market & Estate Winery has spent the last three decades expanding, accommodating, and providing its community with a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of urban living. One constant during that time, however, has been the family's dedication to producing fresh edibles, from juicy berries picked during the summer, to the crisp vegetables and sweet corn that spread across tables in the fall. Today, those are also supplemented by fermented produce: fruit wines, made from the farm's own berries and sold by experts who always have a pairing suggestion on hand.
While visiting the farm, guests can utilize those wholesome treats as fuel to explore the property's collection of activities, including the Critter Corral, where pigs, bunnies, and ducks elicit wonder by munching scoops of food or re-enacting chapters from Charlotte's Web. A bird sanctuary, a patch of pumpkins ranging from 10 to 100 pounds, a panoramic view of the valley, and a trio of mazes?including Papa Joe's corn maze?round out the lineup of agricultural attractions, which group tours, birthday parties, and campers can take advantage of at various times throughout the year.
At EcoDairy in partnership with Science World, kids learn about animal farming and sustainability in an actual working dairy farm. The main draw is the farm's Vitala cows, who together produce 12,000 gallons of milk a year. Visitors can meet the noble creatures face to face and experience a day in their life.
The Barn: Take a look at what staffers call "five-star accomodations" for the dairy cows: plush mattresses, a climate-controlled environment, and an automated brush for the girls to groom themselves with.
Milking the Cows: In the observation room, visitors watch Robbie the Robot, who can milk a cow in just six minutes
Hands-On Exhibits: Visitors can try milking a cow, test out how comfortable the cows' beds are, and even attempt to lift a day's worth of cow manure
Take a Break: In the summer, you can try some ice cream made fresh from the dairy cows; behind the market, a park serves as a great picnic area
Souvenirs: At Nature's Pickin's Farmers Market, select some local produce or take home a gallon of the dairy's fresh milk
Three generations after John Taves bought his first plot of land in the 1930s, grandson Loren Taves and his wife Corinne still keep the family farm running. At Taves Family Farms Applebarn, guests can navigate the expanded Corn Quest Maze, greet lovable critters at the petting barn, or tour the grounds on a hayride. A zipline lets thrill-seekers soar above the farm, and down below, edible ammo flies at non-ziplining targets from the corn gun and pumpkin cannon.