If the combination of animals and fresh air sound like a dream come true to you, these farms around Virginia will let you get pretty close to wildlife and learn all about farm practices. Visit one of these farms to get back to nature and experience the Virginia outdoors in a whole new way!
Smith Mountain Lake Farm—Hardy
Photo Credit: Lovicarious, @lovicarious
The Alpaca tours at Smith Mountain Lake Farm are both educational and fun for the entire family. The tours last 90 minutes, and guests learn about, feed, and even get to hug and hold the alpacas. They have about 40-50 alpacas on the farm at most times, including baby alpacas that you are welcome to interact with. Additionally, there is a gift shop on-site where you can purchase blankets, socks, pillows, and other goods made from the alpaca’s annually sheared fleece.
Bluebird Gap Farm—Hampton
Adventure and education combine at Bluebird Gap Farm in Hampton. This 60-acre farm has about 150 domestic and wild animals, including horses, cows, pigs, goats, chickens, whitetail deer, llamas, alpacas, tortoises, peacocks, rabbits, and waterfowl. Take a hike along Azalea Trail, feed the ducks in the pond, and eat a picnic lunch under the pavilion or in the designated picnic area.
James Monroe’s Highland—Charlottesville
Photo credit: Jon Gregory, @jonwgregory
Home of Virginia President James Monroe, Highland is a 3500-acre estate complete with the original house, outbuildings, gardens, and a working farm. Stroll through the boxwood gardens and visit with the sheep, chickens, and peacock that freely roam the grounds. In addition to mingling with the animals, children visiting the property enjoy crafts like candle making and paper marbling. If you get hungry during your tour, stop by the Museum Shop to pick up some of the Highland fare.
Owen Farm offers farm tours birthday parties, and even summer camps for the kids. The farm has ducks, horses, cows, goats, rabbits, and many other animals. Ride horses, care for the animals, and learn all about agriculture on your visit to the farm. Kids can splash in the creek and work on craft projects organized by the farm. During the fall months, plan a trip to the farm to pick your own pumpkin and test your sense of direction in the farm’s corn maze. Own Farm is a great place for kids and adults alike to learn about animals and farming in Virginia.
Frying Pan Park—Herndon
Frying Pan Park is a working model of a 1920s-1950s farm that gives visitors a peek at the agricultural process, rural community living, and landscape of the time period. The park is free and the tours are educational, cultural, and recreational. After learning about the agricultural side of the farm, visit Kidwell Farm inside Frying Pan Farm Park to see rabbits, chickens, ducks, turkeys, horses, pigs, goats, cows, sheep, and peacocks.
Featured in two notable movies, “Food, Inc.” and “Fresh”, Polyface Farm is a popular destination for farm tours in Virginia. The farm is open to visitors Monday-Saturday 9am-4pm from March-December, and visitors are welcome to take a self-guided tour or plan their trip during the farm’s bi-annual “Lunatic Tours”, a hay wagon tour of the property that educates participants about the animals and the process of farming. Make sure that you reserve your tour spots in advance; the hayride tours are limited to 100 people per event.
Sandy Head Ostrich Farm—Tazewell
The tours at Sandy Head Ostrich Farm are educational and fun, teaching sustainable farming or alternative livestock. They raise ostrich, emu, unusual chickens, and geese on the farm, and kids can even feed the birds during their visit.
Hedgebrook Farm Market, Ltd.—Winchester
This working Jersey Dairy Farm welcomes visitors annually from September to November. Meet the farm animals (cows, donkeys, llamas, peacocks, ducks, chickens, cats, and many more), take a pony ride, pick and experience the Hedgebrook Farm hayride tour. There is even a picnic area where you can enjoy the natural surroundings while eating your lunch.
Great Country Farms—Bluemont
Great Country Farms is a 400 acre working farm at the bottom of the Blue Ridge Mountains that lets visitors interact with all of their animals, including goats, miniature horses, “Elmer” the potbellied pig, chickens, emu, guinea fowl, ducks, turkeys, geese, and rare breed hens. Bring your four-legged friends along on your trip to Great Country Farms and hang out at the Dog Picnic Zone, a half-acre of fenced-in area where your dog can explore off leash and you can spread a blanket for a picnic.
In addition to playing with the animals, there are plenty of activities to fill your day at the farm. Take a wagon ride tour, bring your rod and reel for some catch and release fishing, play on the giant slides, get in a round of putt-putt golf, or play a game of chess on the farm’s giant chess board. Produce seekers can pick their own apples, strawberries, blackberries, and pumpkins when they are in season. On weekends, stop by the Roosteraunt Concession Stand for tasty treats like cider donuts, freshly baked pie, BBQ, and hand-dipped ice cream. There is something for every farm fan at Great Country Farms!
While the baby goat visits are always a hit, Caromont Farm welcomes visitors for regular tours, as well. Located about 20 miles outside of Charlottesville, Caromont Farm produces fresh and aged cheese from goat’s milk that is collected on-site. They also make cow’s milk cheese out of milk sourced from a nearby farm. With a passion for naturally sourced, organic cheese, the owners of Caromont Farm host summer tours starting in June, giving visitors a chance to learn about the goats. If your interests are more geared towards the cheese making process, there are classes held periodically throughout the year that walk you through process of making cheese from scratch.
If goat snuggling is what you’re looking for and the events at Caromont Farm are all booked up, you can also get your fill of adorable baby goats at Silver Maple Farm Goats in Berryville or the Little Goat Farm at the Lake in Nokesville.
Before visiting any of these Virginia farms, make sure to call ahead, as farms can have unexpected weather or scheduling issues that cause tour hours to change.
Looking for more ideas for farm tours in your region? See all the Virginia farms that offer public tours to plan your next rural field trip. Or if you know of a farm that welcomes visitors that is not included on our list, tell us where to visit next!
I grew up in Hampton, VA., and remember going to Blue Bird Gap Farm when I was young, took my children and now my Grandchildren! Stroll along enjoying all there is and learn as you go! They have feeding stations positioned about the park, so bring plenty of quarters and watch the expressions on the faces of your loved one’s, adults and children alike! They also have 2 white Peacocks that have made it their home, and are absolutely a must see, especially when they open their feathers and show off! BEAUTIFUL! Have a picnic on one of many covered picnic tables, or enjoy the sun on a nice day, as they offer tables throughout the park. Playgrounds, picnics, animals and fun!
A worthwhile visit to enjoy Mother Nature and plenty of farm or other wild animals is at Maymont Park in Richmond. I realize it is not a state park. iI is owned by the City of Richmond and, at least in this case, the job is well done!