This past summer, a friend encouraged me to buy a Groupon for a place called Green Meadows Petting Farm. I didn’t know anything about it, except for the fact that my friend could not stop talking about how wonderful it was. I took the plunge, as any self respecting Groupon junkie would, and made plans to go with her.
The day was bright and warm, a perfect day for an outdoor excursion. The drive from my neck of the woods in Lake County to Waterford, Wisconsin was scenic and pleasant, and took just about an hour. When we arrived at our destination, I still could not figure out what my friend had been raving about. It looked pretty enough. A small looking farm, easy parking and a welcoming entrance, but amazing?
I would soon find out what all the fuss was about.
Green Meadows Farm is a family business. It was started in 1964 in Waterford Wisconsin by Bob and Coni Keyes. They had decided to convert their hog and cattle farm into a raspberry and vegetable farm open to the public for picking. Realizing that most other “u-pick” type farms in the area were not for children, they decided that their farm would be nothing like that, and encouraged all visitors to “bring the whole family!” Knowing that most kids loved animals, they brought in some of the farm animals to the business, and that is how the petting zoo was born.
They continued to expand their offerings at the farm, and their locations. As family members spread out, other Green Meadow locations were opened. Bob and Coni eventually retired to Florida, but they couldn’t retire completely from the business. Another location was opened in Kissimmee, Florida soon after they moved there. Currently, Green Meadows has several locations owned by family members across the U.S. The Waterford location is owned by Charlie and Mavis Keyes. I met Charlie personally, and he was wonderful. Friendly and warm, he welcomed my whole family to the farm, and I could tell he meant it.
After we used our Groupon for entrance, we began with a pony ride. Everything is included in the rate you pay when you enter, so there are no extras to worry about your kids begging you for. The farm was clean, immaculately well kept and beautiful to walk around in. The animal areas were completely hands on. Kids could go into the chicken area, and pick up chickens! Believe it or not, my kids loved this area most of all. They spent so long fenced in with the chickens, I had to beg them to come out so we could check out some other things.
We spent some time playing some of the many games and activities the farm has. Giant Connect Four, giant checkers, duck races, a fun tire swing, tricycles, a tube to roll around in (can you tell we are at a farm with my descriptions? Or is it so obvious I did not grow up on a farm with my descriptions?), a giant climbing tower made of tires, slides, a hay tunnel with a tube slide, a maze and various other creative structures for the kids to play in.
After spending quite awhile there, we headed back to the other barns. The kitty barn was another area that my kids could have stayed for the rest of their lives. In this area, you walk into a little room in the barn, filled with kittens. You play with them, hold them, snuggle them and cuddle them for as long as your heart desires. Or, in my case, until I said, “Put the kittens down now.” Even I was in awe of the cuteness factor in this area.
The small animal barn was another spot to oohh and ahhh. Small baby chicks and ducklings are there for you to hold and gasp at how cute they are. There are also bunnies and guinea pigs as well. One of the most interesting things in this area was a pen filled with a bird called a “Tumble Pigeon”. If you touch the back of the pigeon, it flips backwards, essentially tumbling for you. My kids could not believe their eyes and spent awhile watching these very interesting birds. There is also a train set and small toys in this building for the kids that are done touching animals for the moment (my little guy).
Heading out to the back, you can milk a cow, run around with some baby piglets, feed some goats and brush some donkeys. I know you think I am pulling your leg at this moment, but I am not. This place is seriously amazing! Want to feed some horses? Yep, no problem. See an ostrich? Okay! Check out some llamas? Of course!
This place is something out of my children’s dreams.
There is a goose and duck pond, and many gardens to look at, including one labeled, “Pizza Garden”. Since we just visited again very recently, we found out that in the fall, you even get a free pumpkin with your visit. You can just walk out to the patch, and pick your own!
A hay ride is included in the admission as well, and it is a nice long one, over some bumpy roads too, so the kids will love it. Don’t forget to check out the music cart too. You have to try it out to believe it-trust me on this one!
Green Meadows Petting Farm is one of those places that you gush about when people ask you about it. It is truly one of those rare places you visit with your kids, that you cannot say enough good things about. It is seriously a hidden gem, and I cannot recommend it enough. The activities are fun for all ages. My youngest (4) found tons to do, but my oldest (almost 10) had just as much fun. Little ones toddled around, and I even saw many teens there as well, enjoying themselves just as much. The animals are adorable, and there is plenty there to fill a whole day.
You can bring a picnic in, and there is a huge, wide open, shady area filled with tables for picnicking. If you didn’t bring your own, food is sold inside as well (for an extra cost). Bathrooms are clean and convenient, and hand sanitizer abounds near each animal station.
I would say one of the things I was most impressed about was the cleanliness of the place. We have all visited those farms where you literally wanted to douse your child from head to toe in sanitizer when they were done playing. Although we continually cleaned hands, everything was so clean and well kept that I wasn’t really worried. Animal pens were neat and tidy, and all the animals looked extremely well cared for and happy.
I would HIGHLY recommend visiting Green Meadows Farm.
Green Meadows Petting Farm
33603 High Dr. (Hwy.20), East Troy, WI 53120
P.O. Box 342, Waterford, WI 53185
Make a plan to visit Green Meadows Farm before the season ends, but if not, make a plan to check it out next spring and summer for sure! I can assure you that you will have the best time with your family. The only problem you will have is that your kids will never want to leave!