Whether cuddling a tiny spotted piglet, nuzzling a baby goat, or cradling a fuzzy bunny, it's nearly impossible to suppress affectionate coos during a visit to Little Vine Petting Zoo. The zoo abounds with creatures of all kinds, from gentle donkeys to soft alpacas to one spiny hedgehog. Ponies and horses trot down the trail with wee riders on their backs, guests can opt for hay rides, and take pictures inside of rustic stagecoach. Ambling down a tree-lined road, the farm’s colorful train transports guests around the area. The cheerful farm staffers also host bashes onsite and can travel for on-location parties, bringing along ponies and animals to delight guests at birthday parties or confuse bridesmaids at weddings.
As a USDA–licensed petting zoo, the farm owners pride themselves in caring for their animals as an extension of their family. When they’re not introducing their barnyard companions to visitors, the owners breed and show Nigerian dwarf goats as a full-time goat farmers.
Mei Lun and Mei Huan were born in 2013 to much excitement—the cubs are the only the second pair of twin giant pandas born in the U.S. The zoo also boasts the largest collection of gorillas and orangutans, though kids will likely be more impressed by the giraffe exhibit, where they can help feed the long-necked mammals their leafy lunch.
Jerry and Liz Bates happily settled into the ?alpaca way of life? in 2008. They farm alpacas, and it gives them a sense of peace to be out in natural surroundings with their fuzzy family. Tours of their farm, Southern Estate Alpacas, begin with Alpaca 101 lessons, where you learn about the origins and uses of alpacas. Next, you can visit with the herd to feed them out of your hand, pet their soft wool, or get a Facebook photo with a baby dwarf goat. Alpaca petting zoos are a good option for families with small children, since they have no horns or hooves and only a bottom set of teeth, so they can?t bite. After you?ve met your new best friend, head to the farm store to get a scarf or sweater made from his exquisite wool.
At first glance, Pettit Creek Farms looks much the same as other farms. Cows moo and goats bleat from the barnyard, while wagons full of hay and passengers trundle along. But then someone rides by on a camel. A zebra cranes its striped neck over a fence, searching for handfuls of oats, and KatieBird the emu ruffles her feathers at passersby.
It's around the holidays that this unusual farm becomes its most active. In the fall, as the temperature drops and the pumpkin patch ripens, visitors can be seen perusing the squashes and heard trying to navigate the winding corn maze. And, come winter, the farm fires up thousands of Christmas lights, creating a mile-long wonderland for visitors to drive through.
Autumn might be the busiest time of year at Yule Forest Pumpkin Patch, but the farm actually celebrates all the seasons with U-pick events throughout the year. In
summer, families come to the farm to pick sweet blueberries to eat raw or bake into pies; in winter, they head to the tree farm to pick a perfect fir, cypress, or pine for their holiday decorating. Of course, Yule Forest is a pumpkin patch first and foremost, and saves the best fun for fall. Pumpkins ripen on the vine and wait to be turned into jack-o'-lanterns or shot from the farm's pumpkin cannon. Hayrides escort riders around the grounds and to the fun zone where they'll find activities such as slides, horse races, and an obstacle course. Between stints at the talking chicken show or the pick-your-own sunflower garden, kids and adults can drop by the petting zoo to swap tin can recipes with the goats, or head to the bee house to learn about nature's busiest insects. Of course, no autumn adventure would be completely without a bit of spine-tingling fun, which is why Yule Forest Pumpkin Patch also hosts a haunted house attractions on weekends after dark only.
As Halloween approaches, a formerly self-sustaining family farm that then became a premier agritourism destination transforms into Cagle's Haunted Barn, a frightening attraction that terrifies guests within their Haunted Barn. Each year brings a new haunted theme, with past stories including a cannibalistic family home and a cursed mental hospital, so even repeat guests will be newly frightened.