If your children are anything like mine, some of their first words were “moo” and “neigh.” One of our favorite summertime activities is to visit local farms, and we’re hoping the circumstances of this summer won’t stop us! There are a lot of great options in the Chicagoland area for barnyard animal lovers.
Along with animal visits, many of these local farms help educate kids about nature, growing food, and history. (If you’re looking for a hands-on activity right now, check out local U-Pick strawberry farms, too!)
Local Farms to Visit with Kids
Be sure to check websites, social media, or give a call prior to going for hours, pricing and new safety procedures.
2855 Hart Road
Aurora, IL 60502
The non-profit Abbey Farms is run by the monks of Marmion Abbey. This family fun farm offers fresh produce, good cooking, and more. Their 2020 Summer Ramble starts July 1 with health and safety in mind; you can reserve a picnic table with fresh snacks, borrow lawn games to play with the family, explore the Christmas tree fields, grab a coloring kit for the kids, sit on the porch with your coffee, and more.
Double J Riding Club
10545 W. 74th Street
Countryside, IL 60525
Double J Riding Club’s has so much to offer your animal lover! They’ve modified outdoor adventure classes for safety and distance. During their Tiny Animal Adventures sessions, for example, kids play in the mud kitchens and meet the animals. Check their Facebook page for updates.
1510 Wagner Road
Glenview, IL 60025
Wagner Farm is one of the last working dairy farms in Cook County. In addition to the cows in the pasture, they have chickens, draft horses and pigs as well as a restored farmhouse, barn and Heritage Center.
As of June 11, 2020, Wagner Farm’s buildings and bathrooms are closed, but pedestrians are still welcome to come walk the grounds.
Enjoy Pioneer Farm
17N400 Big Timber Road
Hampshire, IL 60140
Children can hold baby lambs, goats, pigs, ducks and roosters, feed the calf inside the barn, and even rent baby chicks at this local farm! Farm fresh eggs and meats are also available for purchase. Call ahead to confirm hours — right now, they’re by appointment only, and some usual activities may be on hold.
Big Run Wolf Ranch
14857 North Farrell Road
Lockport, IL 60441
Check out Big Run Wolf Ranch to educate your children about North American wildlife while enjoying up-close encounters with wolves! During Phase 3 of the Illinois reopening plan, the ranch is opening up by appointment for groups of 10 or less; everyone will wear masks and the ranch is sanitizing between each group. There are three options:
- Onsite Wildlife Education Show: $100 for up to 10 people. The show is 1 1/2 hours, with another 30 minutes to see other animals.
- Private Tour: 45-60 minute guided tour. Fee is a donation of your choice.
- Camping: For up to 10 people. Fee is $15 per person per night for primitive tent champing.
Call Big Run Wolf Ranch to ask about reservations for these three options.
17000 Wadsworth Road
Old Mill Creek, IL 60083
This dressage training facility shows off their prized Lipizzan horses. While this season’s performances are cancelled, check out their tours for a chance to see the newest baby foals or to watch a training session in action. They also plan to add open-air walking tours when possible.
The Children’s Farm at the Center
12700 Southwest Highway
Palos Park, IL 60464
From March to September, the Children’s Farm offers leisurely, self-guided tours on the weekends. Patrons are usually welcome to touch, pet and groom the animals, which change seasonally but often include chickens, ducks, turkeys, rabbits, pigs, goats, cows, sheep, horses, ponies and donkeys.
As of June 9, 2020, The Children’s Farm has re-opened for select hours with self-guided tours, hayrack rides, animals to see, and more. Check the website for hours and admission.
Volkening Heritage Farm at Spring Valley
201 S. Plum Grove Road
Schaumburg, IL 60194
Kids can learn all about life on the farm as they practice chores, play games, and visit the animals. Authentically dressed interpreters welcome and guide visitors through the site. Admission is FREE. As of June 11, 2020, only the trails are open for guests.
5N726 Crane Road
St. Charles, IL 60175
The grounds are open at Primrose Farm! Beginning June 1, 2020, walk around and see the animals, or register for animal feedings with the chickens or goats. The main barn is open when staff is present, while the rest of the buildings are closed.
Kline Creek Farm
1N600 County Farm Road
West Chicago, IL 60185
Activities and events at the farm re-create the seasonal rhythms that have governed farm life for centuries. Kids can learn about 19th-century farm activities, such as baking, canning, planting, harvesting, sheep shearing and ice cutting.
Starting June 9, 2020, Kline Creek Farm’s farm grounds and the nearby Timber Ridge Forest Preserve are open; however, the visitor center and buildings are closed. They’re asking visitors to not touch the animals. Check here for updates.
Currently Closed or Limited
Angelic Organics Farm and Learning Center
1547 Rockton Road
Caledonia, IL 61011
Experience directly where food comes from via tours, workshops, and group programs. Families can eat from the fields, milk goats, feed chickens, make soap, or build a compost pile. Weeklong overnight camps are available for children ages 8 – 12. Their experienced farmer-educators will connect you with meaningful work, new ideas, and unforgettable experiences.
While events are cancelled through at least mid-July, check the calendar to see openings when they come!
100 South Barnes Road
Aurora, IL 60506
Admission includes unlimited rides on the train, hay wagon, pedal tractors, paddle boats, carousel and ponies. In their discovery barn, kids can see chickens, sheep, piglets, baby goats and more. Check their website for admission fees as well as special FREE family fun days that usually run throughout the summer. Read lots of details about all of the fun during my family’s visit.
Unfortunately, as of June 12, 2020, Blackberry Farm is not open yet. Check their website for details about their anticipated opening.
Graue Mill and Museum
3800 York Road
Oak Brook, IL 60523
An operating waterwheel grist mill and homestead, built in the 1850s on the Graue Farm. Today, the museum provides programs for children that include milling, spinning and weaving and living history presentations, as well as artifacts which illustrate the way of life of area residents back then. You’ll find many demonstrations and special events at Graue Mill, such as sheep sheering and their fine arts festival. Check their Facebook page for up-to-date information.
Don’t see your favorite local farm listed? Email Annie at firstname.lastname@example.org to have it included.