Must-Visit Petting Zoos in New Jersey

by Helen Navas Carrera
new jersey petting zoos

With spring officially upon us, many people are excited to see New Jersey bloom into the great Garden State. Spring means finally watching the cherry blossoms hit their peak, enjoying a picnic, exploring a running trail, and visiting the state’s national parks. But if you’re looking to find some one-on-one time getting personal with nature, a petting zoo may be more your calling. Luckily, there are several petting zoos in New Jersey for you to enjoy, no matter your location in the state. Read on for a comprehensive list of the best animal havens all around NJ.

10 Lil’ Acre Rescued Animal Farm — Old Bridge, NJ

Home to over 10 different animal breeds, you can interact with rescued horses, pigs, sheep, and more at 10 Lil’ Acres. If you’re looking to create lasting memories with just your friends and family, the farm hosts a variety of private events. You can book the farm for birthday parties, company outings, fundraisers, family reunions, and more. Check the farm’s Facebook for pricing and special event information.

Abma’s Farm — Wyckoff, NJ

The Barnyard Petting Zoo at Abma’s Farm in Wyckoff, NJ, is open year-round for educational farm animal experiences. Animals you can feed and pet include goats, sheep, alpaca, donkeys, and more. In addition to getting up close and personal with all of the critters, the farm also hosts pony rides. However, this attraction is only available on Saturdays from May through October. There is a $4 entrance fee per person, and children under two receive free admission. Tickets are available exclusively online via the farm’s website.

Allaire Community Farm — Wall Township, NJ

Allaire Community Farm focuses on helping special needs adults and children, as well as those battling mental health issues and diseases by nurturing them through nature. The non-profit farm accomplishes its mission through animal therapy sessions, gardening, and special programs and events. Starting April 1, you can visit the rescue animals from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. on the weekend. Check out the farm’s website and Facebook page for the most up-to-date information.

Alstede Farms — Chester, NJ

Alstede Farm

Alstede Farms produces freshly harvested homegrown fruits, vegetables, and flowers. With over 600 acres of land, it is perhaps most popular during the fall pumpkin-picking season. However, its petting zoo is open year-round. Goats, donkeys, sheep, and horses roam the farmland. Nutritious bags of veggies are available for purchase to feed the livestock. For more information on this eco-friendly farm, its animals and produce, visit Alstede’s website.

Atlantic Farm Market — Manasquan, NJ

This seasonal market grows and sells fresh fruit and produce. However, the highlight of the farm is its collection of animals. Goats, pigs, cows, peacocks, alpacas, and even an emu have found a home on this Manasquan farm. The farm and all its animal attractions reopen for the season in April. View their website for ticket and event information.

Brookhollow’s Barnyard — Boonton, NJ

Brookhollow’s Barnyard is a family-friendly barnyard in Boonton, just off of Rt. 287. At Barnyard, you can observe goats jumping off roofs, order a bucket of veggies to feed the animals, and pet your furry friends. Kids can also play the day away in sandboxes and playhouses. Brookhollow’s Barnyard is open seasonally from May 1 to October 1. However, Barnyard has more than just its animals to offer. The farm holds special events like “Cut Your Own Tree” in December, a pumpkin patch in the fall, and an Easter egg hunt in April. Check out the barnyard’s website and Facebook page for the most up-to-date event and price information.

Doyle’s Farm — Flemington, NJ

Doyle’s Farm is more than just a petting zoo; this multi-generational farm specializes in bringing education and farm life together. Private tours include a number of activities, from egg collecting, meeting animals and feeding them, as well as crafts. Although activities and prices are subject to change, we recommend you visit Doyle’s website and call ahead before planning a trip to the farm.

Funny Farm Rescue & Sanctuary — Mays Landing, NJ

Each year, millions of animals undergo euthanasia due to their “unwanted” status. Funny Farm Rescue & Sanctuary prevents euthanasia by providing a safe haven for unwanted animals, domesticated pets, and creatures with special needs. At Funny Farm, all animals live out their natural lives. The sanctuary is open year-round on Tuesdays and Sundays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free, although donations are highly encouraged. 

Johnson’s Corner Farm — Medford, NJ

The Discovery Barnyard and Animal Farm at Johnson’s Corner Farm houses several animals for petting. Feed and pet sheep, goats, and chickens before stopping by the Discovery Barnyard. Here, children can cool off on a splash pad on a hot day, pedal go-karts, traverse a playground, and learn strategy skills on giant board games. Johnson’s Corner Farm has enough activities to last a full day, although you’ll likely want to return to experience more exciting adventures.

Lots of Love Farm — Williamstown, NJ

If you’re looking for an experience beyond feeding and petting some friendly critters, visit Lots of Love Farm in Williamstown. The farm provides a safe haven for rescued farm animals and wants their creatures to receive as much love and attention as they can get. Lots of Love encourages patrons to hold and groom their animals, going beyond the usual petting zoo trip. Admission is $8 per person, and pony rides are an additional $5. This sanctuary is open Thursdays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., as well as Sundays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. However, hours are subject to change due to special events and inclement weather. Check the farm’s Facebook for any updates.

Red Valley Ranch — Millstone, NJ

Goats and pigs and geese, oh my! For $10, you gain unlimited time in the Red Valley Ranch petting zoo. Other attractions include horseback riding, ranch walks with alpacas or goats, and crafting classes. Purchase tickets and keep a lookout for special events on the farm’s website.

Space Farms: Zoo and Museum — Wantage Township, NJ

Space Farms’ history dates back to 1927 when Ralph and Elizabeth Space bought a quarter acre of land. The pair farmed the land and eventually, Ralph supplemented their growing family’s income by working with the New Jersey State Game Department. Instead of killing the marauding predators, Ralph kept the animals and began a small collection of rescued wildlife. Today, the zoo is home to a wide variety of species. Stop by Pop Pop’s Barnyard to feed chickens and ducks. Young visitors are often encouraged to lend a hand and hold a bottle for the lambs.

You can also rest assured that the zoo takes good care of its animals. The farm offers special programs to restore endangered and threatened species, and it also holds several records for animal life longevity. Once home to the largest bear in captivity in the world, you can spot the taxidermied gentle giant at the farm’s museum. Space Farms is open daily from March 27 to November 14. Visit their website to purchase tickets and stay in the know via their Facebook page.

Twelve Acre Farm — Lambertville, NJ

At Twelve Acre Farm, you don’t just get to pet the animals, you bond with them. The farm offers a variety of programs for children and groups. First, there is the After School Program, which provides gardening and petting zoo activities. During Pre-K story hour, children hear fun farm stories and visit the animals in the petting zoo. Beginner and therapeutic horse lessons start at $40 per half hour and $60 for a full hour. If you’d prefer a private group session, the farm can customize your trip according to age and group goals. This animal oasis also welcomes volunteers to help with horse handling and farm chores. Visit Twelve Acre’s website for more details.

Valley Shepard Creamery — Long Valley, NJ

For a more sophisticated outing, we recommend visiting Valley Shepherd Creamery. The Lamb Tours begin at the Sheep Shoppe, and guests eventually move to the Viewing Gallery. The guide introduces you to the farm through specially made films that describe milking, cheese-making, and shearing. Next, take a peek into the barn for a view of the state-of-the-art farming equipment that helps the sheep produce milk for cheese. Then, step into the newborn lamb pavilion, where you can hold the tiny babes. The tour makes a full-circle finish at the Sheep Shoppe, where you can eat the ranch’s award-winning cheeses. The farm encourages patrons to bring a picnic set up and wine to enjoy on its porch.

Have you visited any of these petting zoos in New Jersey? Let us know your favorites in the comments below.

About the Author/s

Helen is an editorial intern at The Digest. A senior at Drew University, she enjoys cooking and listening to music. When she's not working in the kitchen, she's typically catching up on pop culture news.

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