30 Incredible Animal Farms & Petting Zoos for Kids in West Michigan


Animal Farms & Petting Zoos Kids Love

If you’ve got an animal lover at home, their favorite things to do in Grand Rapids are going to involve places like farms, zoos, and nature centers.

So where do you find them in West Michigan? The simple answer is: everywhere.

We’ve found over two dozen spots where kids can get close to all sorts of creatures. At many of these destinations your kid can pet, feed, and maybe even hold an animal!

*feature image is of Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park in Alto, MI.

Animal Farms & Petting Zoos, Listed

*Check with venues before heading out for up-to-date open hours and admissions policies. 

You don’t have to travel far to have a hands-on animal experience. Here are the places to see animals that local parents recommend when it comes to petting zoos and animal farms near Grand Rapids, MI:

1 – John Ball Zoo Petting Zoo

1300 W Fulton St, Grand Rapids, MI 49504
petting zoo; animal experiences

John Ball Zoo has everything you’d expect in a zoo… plus some things you might not expect.

In the farm petting zoo, you can brush and pet the goats and get close to chickens.

john ball zoo petting zoo

Hands-on animal options are camel rides and budgie feeding.

Feeding Budgies at John Ball Zoo

You can also walk through a wallaby exhibit to see these guys up close.

Plus get views of lions, tigers, bears, monkeys, and more.

JBZ also has lots of hands-on experiences like riding a funicular, doing a giant ropes course, riding a zipline and mining for gems.

john ball zoo gem mining

The Zoo is built on a hillside, so come prepared to walk. It is stroller-friendly, but some find it easier to use a child carrier.

2 – Blandford Nature Center Wildlife & Farm Animal Experiences

1715 Hillburn Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504
NATURE CENTER; ANIMAL FARMS; Wildlife experiences

Between the wildlife and the farm animals, there are opportunities everywhere at Blandford Nature Center to get close to animals.

Participate in Wildlife Care Experiences, with one or two-hour hands-on experiences where you will go on a behind-the-scenes tour and help feed the animals.

You may also visit the Blandford Farm. It’s just a short walk from the visitor center. Goats, chickens, and sheep are regulars here.
Note: most of the animals are for looking at only. To truly get hands-on, sign up for an experience.

Come say hi, or sign up for one of Blandford’s farm-themed community programs. Offerings change regularly and are listed on their calendar. Animal lovers should be on the lookout for classes like Farm Chores and Meet the Blandford Animals.

Many of the resident animals at this animal farm are used for educational programs, both on the grounds and on excursions to local schools and other facilities.

3 – Critter Barn

2950 80th Ave, Zeeland, MI 49464
ANIMAL FARMS; petting zoo; animal experiences

This is a great animal farm and petting zoo!

Opportunities abound at Critter Barn to interact with rabbits, chickens, ducks, cats, hogs, cows, sheep, goats, donkeys, turkeys, pot-bellied pigs, geese, a pony and a horse.

critter barn birthday party

Critter Barn also offers hands-on summer camps, where kids can hold baby chicks and kittens, learn how to milk and bathe a goat, and wrangle ducks and chickens. They even have pony rides.

From feeding and petting, to caring for the animals and learning all about them, Critter Barn Animal Farm has it all.

Critter Barn
Kids can interact with a variety of animals at the Critter Barn in Holland, MI, including goats

4 – Deer Tracks Junction

7850 14 Mile Rd, Cedar Springs, MI 49319
ANIMAL FARMS; petting zoo; animal experiences

This is such a unique animal farm! As you might guess, there are dozens of deer to pet at Deer Tracks Junction.

But there are also yak, elk, and goats at this petting zoo. They even have baby bears!

Take advantage of the many opportunities to pet, hold, and feed all the animals.


Visitors can take an air-conditioned stagecoach ride where the animals may come right up to you.

Feed cups are available to purchase for many of the animals and there’s also a giant play structure (with underground tunnels!), making this a great animal farm for kids.

5 – Fellinlove Farm

6364 144th Ave, Holland, MI 49423
ANIMAL FARMS; petting zoo; animal experiences

Fellinlove Farm is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing dynamic experiences for all ages and abilities.

At this petting zoo farm, guests can not only pet the animals, but they can also get right into the pens with miniature llamas and donkeys.

Fellinlove Farm has over 65 animals (including rare Fell ponies, an African Tortoise, and New Zealand pigs), a bunch of friendly barn cats, and over 25 koi.

Fellinlove Farm also boasts a variety of small animals that a farm member will bring out to you, including an African Pygmy hedgehog, degus, guinea pigs, hamster and even chinchillas.

6 – Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park

8313 Pratt Lake SE, Alto, MI 49302
petting zoo; animal experiences

Located on 80 acres of land, Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park is a unique, hands-on experience for the entire family.

The park boasts a distinct collection of exotic animals and reptiles, and the variety and dynamic atmosphere make Boulder Ridge anything but your average zoo.

A highlight of the park is giraffes that you can feed. They also have camels, monkeys, zebras, ostriches, alligators and crocodiles, snakes, rhinos, lizards, kangaroo, wildebeest, a wide variety of birds, and a petting zoo.

Boulder Ridge rhinos

Other activities at the park include Gem Mining, a safari walk to see and learn about the animals around the property, and a Kids Train.

grand rapids summer activities - boulder ridge wild animal park
Feeding giraffes is fun for everyone at Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park

7 – Lewis Adventure Farm & Zoo

4180 West M-20, New Era, MI 49446
ANIMAL FARMS; petting zoo; animal experiences

Lewis Adventure Farm is THE farm to visit for families.

In the summer months, kids will love the barrel train, skee ball, carousel, slides, play area, and more.

In the fall, additional experiences include hayrides, corn maze, corn pit, and a pumpkin patch.

The huge petting zoo farm includes zebus, llamas, alpacas, miniature horses, emus, wallabies, prairie dogs, and more.

Plus U-Pick apples in the fall.

As far as farms for kids go, this one has just about everything.

Camels are just one of many animals to visit at Lewis Adventure Farm

8 – Dairy Discovery

12877 84th St SE, Alto, MI 49302
ANIMAL FARMS; animal experiences

Bottle-feed a newborn calf and learn all about dairy cows in the Dairy Discovery Farm tours!

Explore in the straw fort, get lost in the straw maze, play in the corn box and meet animal friends.

There’s more than just cows at Dairy Discovery!

9 – Humane Society of West Michigan

3077 Wilson Dr NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49534
ANIMAL experiences

The Humane Society of West Michigan offers camps throughout the year that let kids get close to animals.

Sign up for one of their monthly Family Drop-In Days. Children must be 5 years or older (10 years or older to work with dogs). Spots are limited, so registration is required.

A $10 donation is requested to help cover the cost of staffing this program.

Additional kid-friendly opportunities are available. Check out the website for the latest events.

Humane Society girl bunny
Summer Camp at Humane Society of West Michigan in Grand Rapids, MI

10 – Binder Park Zoo

7400 Division Dr, Battle Creek, MI 49014
petting zoo; animal experiences

Binder Park Zoo has 433 acres of animal-filled wonder in natural forests and wetlands.

Every inch of Binder Park offers an experience. Sloths, lions, bears, cheetahs, giraffes, and crested guineafowls are among the  over 40 species here.

This zoo offers the rare opportunity for you to get up close and personal with a giraffe feeding!

Feeding giraffes is a family favorite at Binder Park Zoo

And they also have dinosaurs!

11 – Critchlow Alligator Sanctuary

1698 M-66, Athens, MI 49011
animal experiences; Wildlife experiences

Critchlow Alligator Sanctuary houses hundreds of rescued reptiles that can live here comfortably for the remainder of their lives. 

Check out the alligators, tortoises, lizards, and even birds and fish.

The animals vary in age and size, from babies to “Godzilla,” a 30-year-old, ten-foot alligator that weighs over 350 pounds.

12 – Nelis’ Dutch Village

12350 James St, Holland, MI 49424
petting zoo

At Nelis’ Dutch Village, children delight in feeding the farm animals, visiting the petting zoo, and interacting with the farm animals. Some of the animal interactions you can expect include petting bunnies, feeding goats and getting up close with chickens.

The rides are age appropriate and include the giant wooden shoe slide, the restored antique carousel, and the “big swing” – the popular Zweefmolen (Dutch Swing Ride).

Dutch Village girl feeding goats
Feeding goats is just one of many ways kids can interact with animals at Nelis’ Dutch Village

13 – DeGraaf Nature Center

600 Graafschap Rd, Holland, MI 49423
NATURE CENTER; Wildlife experiences

Whether you have 20 minutes or 2 hours, you will enjoy exploring the woodland, shrub, marsh, and pond trails of this 18-acre nature preserve located within Holland city limits.

The DeGraff Nature Center also has an indoor facility that is brimming with informative and hands-on displays and live animal exhibits. The friendly staff are always willing to answer any questions you and your crew might have.

The indoor exhibits are currently closed for construction. Look for them to reopen late spring of 2024.

michigan nature centers - degraaf nature center
Watch for animals in their natural habitats as you splash through the wetlands at DeGraaf Nature Center

14 – Outdoor Discovery Center

4214 56th St, Holland, MI 49423
NATURE CENTER; Wildlife experiences

The bigger sister to DeGraff Nature Center, The Outdoor Discovery Center offers outdoor trails, animal exhibits, and natural playscapes that will draw in any curious explorer.

Stop by the Eldean Family Nature Play Park. You’ll find a zip line, large sand box, logs to balance on, a giant spider web climber, and a log fort to explore.

Walk the stroller-friendly trails to the DeWitt Birds of Prey exhibit. Home to 15 different species of Michigan birds of prey.

Explore inside their Visitor’s Center and observe the animals on display, visit the touchable tables, or sit in the serene space of their bird watching room.

Host birthday parties and rent their space for private events.

Other points of interest include Doug and Kori Rentz Art Trail, Wade and Kris Eldean Wildlife Exhibit, cultural learning center, and fishing ponds.

Birds of Prey - Outdoor Discovery Center Holland - FB
Host a birthday party with the Outdoor Discovery Center
Trails - Outdoor Discovery Center - FB
Explore the stroller-friendly trails

15 – Double R Ranch

4424 Whites Bridge Rd, Belding, MI 48809
Wildlife experiences

At Double R Ranch, visitors can go out on a horseback ride, canoe on the sparkling Flat River, tube with the family, or enjoy a game of golf on the 9-hole course. Camping also available.

Double R Ranch in Belding
Horseback riding at Double R Ranch.

16 – Coopersville Farm Museum

375 Main St, Coopersville, MI 49404
ANIMAL FARMS; petting zoo

Visit Coopersville Farm Museum the last Saturday of the month for Kids, Crafts and Critters.

Participate in their indoor petting zoo, featuring small and baby farm animals. There’s also corn shelling, a bead table and rope making.

17 – Kalamazoo Nature Center

357 W. E Ave, Kalamazoo, MI 49009
NATURE CENTER; Wildlife experiences

Visit Lacey the Haflinger horse, Neo the pig, and all your farmyard favorites at Kalamazoo Nature Center during the summer and weekends through September.

There are a variety of Family Programs that focus on animals – Creature Features, Farmyard Wednesdays and other opportunities.

Kalamazoo Nature Center kids playing in creek
Kids can learn about animals in their natural habitats as they explore the Kalamazoo Nature Center

18 – Legacy Stables (Karin’s Horse Connection)

8001 Patterson Ave SE, Caledonia, MI 49316
animal experiences

Legacy Stables is a horse lover’s playground where horse lovers can connect with horses in many different ways.

Programs available include vaulting, riding, therapeutic riding, 4-H, birthday parties, and own-a-horse camp.

Legacy Stables in Caledonia, MI, has many different ways to interact with horses

19 – Schwallier’s Country Basket

1185 9 Mile NW, Sparta, MI 49345
ANIMAL FARMS; petting zoo

Primarily an autumn spot, most of Schwallier’s Country Basket activities are free, making this one of the most popular farms for kids.

Goats, bunnies, kittens, chickens, and the occasional dog, Schwallier’s lets you get up close and personal with most of them. Get in the pen and pet the bunnies or feed the goats.

If you take a stroller, make it a jogger; this is an orchard and not friendly to umbrella-type strollers.

Kids will love the goats at the petting farm at Schwallier’s Country Basket
Schwallier's Country Basket Grand Rapids MI Petting Farm

20 – Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery

34270 County Rd 652, Mattawan, MI 49071
animal experiences

Feed and view fish on the giant show pond which includes sturgeon, some which are over 5 feet in length. They offer different programs throughout the year for all ages.

Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery Kalamazoo free things to do in michigan

21 – Anderson & Girls Orchards

2985 N Sheridan Rd, Stanton, MI 48888
ANIMAL FARMS; petting zoo

This farm offers a wide variety of animals not found anywhere else in Montcalm County. You can visit the critters here from May to December.

Anderson & Girls Orchards has everything from reindeer to camels to hedgehogs to lemurs. Don’t forget to visit the goats!

22 – Apple Valley Fun Farm

7737 Fruit Ridge Ave NW, Sparta, MI 49345
petting zoo

Families will be busy for hours at Apple Valley Fun Farm!

Watch the goats play on all kinds of fun toys at Apple Valley Fun Farm including a teeter totter.

Apple Valley Fun Farm goats on teeter totter

23 – Gull Meadow Farms

8544 Gull Rd, Richland, MI 49083
petting zoo

The animals at Gull Meadow love visitors – especially visitors who feed them. Break out the quarters and feed the very friendly goats and visit with the alpacas, miniature horses, pigs and sheep.

Plus enjoy other farm activities like the Apple Chute slide, apple cannons, bounce on their jumping pillow and more!

Don’t miss annual events like sunflower days in the summer and pigs races in the fall.

Pig races are scheduled on Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Shows run every two hours at the Porkchopville Raceway, but will be cancelled if the weather is too hot for the animals.

The pigs are rewarded with donuts for their efforts.

Gull Meadow Farms

24 – Post Family Farm

5081 Bauer Rd, Hudsonville, MI 49426
petting zoo

Watch the goats play outside at Post Family Farm (and buy feed for them if you want) or visit with the chickens and pigs inside the barn.

Horses and other animals are also outside the barn ready to greet visitors.

Bonus: they sell yummy donuts and cider in the fall and at certain times during the year. Check their Facebook page for details.

Post Family Farm horses

25 – Robinette’s Apple Haus

3142 4-Mile Rd NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49525
petting zoo

Animals at the Robinette’s petting zoo include sheep, goats, ponies, and ducks. Horse-drawn wagon rides are also available.

Note: While they are open year-round, the petting farm is only available on Sundays during September and October.

26 – Scidmore Park Petting Zoo

112 Spring St, Three Rivers, MI 49093
petting zoo

In addition to playground equipment and a duck pond, Scidmore Park Petting Zoo‘s 18-acre park also has a seasonal petting farm.

Animals include llamas, python snakes, pot-bellied pigs, and much more. Make sure to check out the rabbits and hedgehogs, too.

When the petting zoo isn’t open, the animals are still viewable from the fenced area.

27 – Country Dairy

3476 S 80th Ave, New Era, MI 49446
ANIMAL FARMS; animal experiences

Tour the farm and learn about the milking process and visit the cows at Country Dairy.

Learn about making cheese and tour the factory. Includes a wagon ride.

Finish up with glasses of chocolate milk and samples of cheese curds. You can also purchase meals at their cafe.

country dairy, new era MI
Visit the cows after you tour the dairy and enjoy milk and cheese curds at Country Dairy

28 – Double JJ Resort

5900 S Water Rd, New Era MI, 49446
animal experiences

Double JJ Resort offers many horse-related options. Choose from trail rides, private lessons, and more.

They also offer lodging and have an indoor waterpark.

double jj resort grand rapids sleigh ride

29 – Stony Lake Stables (formerly Rainbow Ranch)

4345 South 44th Ave, New Era, MI 49446
animal experiences

Another place to get your horse fix, Stony Lake Stables is ready for riders as young as one year old (they ride in a double saddle with an adult).

Horse-drawn sleighs and hay rides are also available.

The whole family will love a horse-drawn sleigh ride this winter at Stony Lake Stables

30 – The Lemonade Farmhouse

8461 Lake Michigan Dr, Allendale, MI 49401
petting zoo

The Lemonade Farmhouse is a sensory-friendly petting farm offering a safe place for kids ages 4 – 14 to spend one-on-one time with animals.

Each child gets his or her own private 30 minute tour. Kids can find eggs, feed the goats, or brush the animals. Others may want to sit and snuggle with a kitty or a bunny.

The Lemonade Farm is home to a variety of farm animals, including goats, chickens, dogs, bunnies, and cats. 

Sessions are available by appointment only Monday – Thursday.

Call 616-808-1114 for more information and to set up an appointment.

Kids with special needs can have their own 1-on-1 time with animals at the Lemonade Farmhouse

MAP of Petting Zoos and Kid-Friendly Animal Farms

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Animal farms & petting zoos

21 thoughts on “30 Incredible Animal Farms & Petting Zoos for Kids in West Michigan”

  1. Anderson and Girls Orchard should be included in this listing. It’s located in Stanton. It is wonderful and free. They operate off of donations.

  2. You left out Critchlow Alligator Sanctuary! It’s in Athens, MI, just down 66! Took our cubs there last summer. Had a blast. Got to feed the gators!

    1. Thank you! When we update this list we’ll make sure to include them and make this “18 Places to Get Close To Animals In West Michigan”.

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