One of the largest conservation organizations in New England, Mass Audubon cares for 34,000 acres of natural land in a network of more than 50 wildlife sanctuaries across the state. Its members receive free admission to these pacific preserves, where, alongside more than 150 endangered or threatened native species, they can breathe in Mother Nature’s perfume or have a good cry on her mossy bosom. During bird-migration season, alert gazes can capture some 300 species of sky surfer at Allens Pond on the South Coast, and visitors to Lincoln’s Drumlin Farm can re-enact Charlotte's Web with a motley band of sheep, cows, goats, and pigs.
Norman Bird Sanctuary spans more than 300 acres and seven miles of hiking trails where binoculared bird lovers can spy on local and migratory birds. Hikers can explore the woods or climb Hanging Rock to feast on views of the ocean. In addition, the Sanctuary organizes public programs such as hands-on educational events for children and evening lectures for adults.
As the days begin to wane and the trees' green leaves start to turn, Clark Farms celebrates the arrival of autumn by hosting its annual fall festival. The friendly farmhands welcome in guests of all ages for themed activities, which allow them to savor the season while experiencing a small taste of New England countryside life. Visitors can navigate the corn maze's labyrinth of towering stalks and direction-savvy scarecrows, or satisfy a need for speed with a zip down a 30-foot slide or lap around a professionally designed go-kart track. Clark Farms also encourages adults and kids to learn about farm life by taking a hayride around the grounds, touring the pumpkin patch, or visiting the petting zoo's resident quadrupeds and bipeds. When the sun sets and the weather turns crisp, the staff keeps crowds cozy by selling warm treats—including fresh donuts and apple cider—and by building roaring bonfires.
Since 1989, the Biomes Marine Biology Center has immersed visitors of all ages in the lives of sea creatures through a range of hands-on programs. Though it recently moved to a new location, it has kept aquatic habitats focused on the denizens of Narragansett Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Amid tanks of native and tropical species such as octopuses, horseshoe crabs, lionfish, tortoises, and sharks, the staff treats visitors to a range of events—including educational demonstrations and hermit-crab-socialization seminars.
In a separate area for kids aged 3–6 , staff members lead animal-themed story times, and walk children through corresponding craft projects afterward. They also organize birthday parties, during which kids can pet tide-pool animals such as eels, horseshoe crabs, and small sharks.
Sweet Meadow Farm is not just a kid-friendly equestrian center. Sure, their experienced instructors lead private and group horseback-riding lessons year-round, but the farm also houses an interactive barnyard zoo. Their menagerie of domestic and exotic animals ranges from miniature horses and potbelly pigs to peacocks and kangaroos. Sweet Meadow Farm hosts birthday parties, too, during which kids can meet new critter friends inside the air-conditioned barn and make up secret handshakes that do not require opposable thumbs.