At The Gentle Zoo, youngsters feed pigs, pat ducklings, and interact with the other fuzzy residents. Elsewhere on the zoo’s 10 acres, guests can leap about on the bounce house, blast corn from the corn cannon, navigate the maze, or enjoy a leisurely ride on the tractor train. Such attractions enthrall kids at onsite birthday parties, while the mobile petting zoo’s 12–15 staff-supervised animals offer nuzzles and create memories in children's minds. The creatures also hit the road for the animal-encounters program, which combines hands-on animal contact with educational 45-minute presentations. The Gentle Zoo donates its proceeds from the program to its Creature Connection, Inc. nonprofit, which rehabilitates rescue animals before they participate in outreach programs for foster children and at-risk youth.
Blase Family Farm creates a setting for seasonal memory-making with a bounty of fall activities. Around the 13-acre farm, hayrides meander through the woods, under leaves tinged with warm hues. Bulbous pumpkins rest at the base of tall trees, waiting for youngsters to claim them. When not searching for the best pumpkin—like the doctor who performed the Headless Horseman’s brain transplant—visitors can socialize with farm animals, such as goats and sheep, and earn their eternal love by feeding them. A farm train also chugs around the grounds, giving its passengers a more comprehensive view of the scenery. In the spring and summer, the farm offers pick-your-own blueberries, perfect for making into jam.
The calls of more than 100 exotic and endangered animals fill the air at Sharkarosa Wildlife Ranch, an educational, nonprofit wildlife reserve licensed by the USDA and featured on the Discovery Channel's Dirty Jobs. Knowledgeable staffers pilot a fleet of safari trams that ferry guests across the park's 126 acres of sprawling pastures, dispensing enlightening wisdom as they pass zebras, kangaroos, emus, bears, and monkeys. The staff brings patrons face-to-face with many of the exotic critters and often stops to allow guests to pet and get to know the animals. Interactive presentations and small-animal habitats further educate visitors on the menagerie of rare creatures.
Each weekend through the harvest season, YesterLand Farm welcomes visitors of all ages to explore several acres’ worth of classic country activities, whether they’re just experiencing their first falling leaves or feeling nostalgic for autumns of old. More than 30 attractions spring up around the open fields, from a restored 1952 miniature train to a small ferris wheel and a vintage rollercoaster. As explorers try to navigate a corn maze’s dense stalks, guests can head to collect gourds to make into smaller pumpkins. Both when the sky starts to darken and during the day, Yesterland stays aglow with handheld beams in the flashlight maze and campfires, around which visitors roast hot dogs and s’mores over terrifying tales of ghosts and deciding college majors.