We go a lot of places as Daily Vacationer Jr, and every now and then we visit a location that gets everything unbelievably right. Recently, we headed over to check out Paws Discovery Farm (a new sister location of the Garden State Discovery Museum), and things just kept getting better and more fun the longer that we were there. With so much to do and see on and around the farm, this is one place that is absolutely worth the membership! (Usually we wait until the end of our posts to mention memberships, but we're saying it right from the beginning: Your kids are going to want to go again and again and again.)
The buildings on the property are some of the oldest structures in Burlington County and are cool throwbacks to when it was used as a working farm before becoming a non-profit nature center in 1979. Since being brought into the Garden State Discovery Museum family, Paws maintains its family fun and farm history roots while benefiting from a renovated face lift with updated indoor and outdoor play areas as well as more ways to enjoy interacting with the animals in residence.
The entry building is not only the place where you can buy feed for the animals and shop the awesome farm and nature themed gift shop, but it's also home to a fantastic indoor play place. Honestly, this play area could have been the entirety of the whole thing, and our little vacationers would have been completely content. With a nod to the different ecosystems of New Jersey, kids have the opportunity to build an eco-friendly house, host a BBQ picnic outside of their woodsy cabin, and go fishing and swimming "down the shore" in the ocean ball pit. Lovers of the classic children's story "Where the Wild Things Are" will be particularly delighted for the chance to make some noise with Max and a life sized Wild Thing in the storybook's forest.
This amazing play area is actually only the first of two indoor places with the second being a huge renovated barn with even more hands on interactive and pretend play (we did mean it when we said that you're going to want a membership to this place). The barn play area is more farm focused with nooks to milk cows, gather eggs, plant and harvest crops, and bring all the fruits of your labor to the country market to sell and shop. Visitors also get the chance to saddle up some horses, play veterinarian, and pretend to be chipmunks gathering and storing nuts. We were also big fans of the train tables set up in the back, as well as the area for arts and crafts. This is another place that we would have been content to spend all day playing inside.
The rest of Paws Discovery Farm is equally impressive and fun with something new to enjoy around every corner. Nature trails decorated with forest fairies and friendly garden gnomes make a walk through the woods enjoyable for everyone, while the Butterfly Garden is a great place to see vibrant flowers and fluttering wings. We really enjoyed the outdoor play area with so many different kinds of wooden structures to play on! Our vacationers cooked up a meal in the little house before boarding the long train, though their favorites were the pirate ship and the tractor with the slides. (Personally, we were most appreciative of the easily accessible outdoor bathrooms nearby!)
One of the coolest parts of visiting Paws Discovery Farm is, of course, all of the live animals. We recommend checking out the Animal Gallery to really get a feel for just how many different kinds there are to see. In the newly opened Reptile and Small Mammal Farm House, we took great delight in meeting Ricardo, the mega-sized Iguana, Lily and Penelope, the large Red Footed Tortoises, and the Hedgehogs, Coconut and Cactus. Out in their pens, we could see the massive Scottish Highland Cattle, as well as Curly the Emu. Visitors can also get up close with pigs, peacocks, chickens, goats, sheep, cows, alpacas, miniature horses, and more (make sure to bring the feed with you to the Storybook Barnyard!). We were also impressed with the look we got of Lakota, the Red Tailed Hawk, and the other birds along the Wildlife Trail. A lot of the animals are available for adoptive sponsorship through the Paws Farm Protector Program.
Paws Discovery Farm is available for birthday parties, farm rentals, and field trips. They can even take the farm to you with their Paws on Wheels Workshops and Mobile Petting Zoo. On top of their normal hours and farm fun, Paws has a full calendar of Special Events, so there's always a good reason to visit. Paws Discovery Farm also has many different Memberships available (and we SO recommend one - our personal top pick being a combo membership with the Garden State Discovery Museum). Follow them on Facebook to stay in the know on upcoming events and new additions to their farm animal family.
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