From frisky goats to cuddly bunnies, petting zoos are a fun way to learn about and bond with other living creatures. They are great places to get up-close and personal with a wide variety of animals, and can be found all over Minnesota. For some of the best, check out our list of petting zoos here. When visiting, you won’t want to forget the camera for that classic photo op or the hand sanitizer to stay germ-free.
900 Mound Ave.
Mankato, MN 56001
The big red barn and cute animals make this petting zoo a must-do for kids when in Mankato. Feed the adorable pot-bellied pigs, friendly alpaca, pygmy goats or peacocks, and don’t forget to stop by the farm-themed playground before you leave. The extended hours make it convenient for families with early risers or who want to visit at the end of the day – hours are 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. The farm is open seasonally, from mid-spring to the beginning of fall, so call or check the website before visiting.
Pine Grove Zoo
1200 W. Broadway
Little Falls, MN 56345
The Pine Grove Zoo has many educational programs that let you get hands-on with the animals. Learn about critters such as lizards, spiders and snakes while getting to touch and hold them. There is also a petting stable for a traditional petting zoo experience. One bonus for families visiting with children who have short attention spans is that the zoo is smaller in size which makes for a highly manageable visit.
Afton Apple Orchard
14421 S. 90th St.
Hastings, MN 55033
While Afton Apple Orchard isn’t known for its petting zoo, it is a must-do for those who love petting zoos mainly for the number of other activities you can do after you pet the animals. Let a donkey, goat or one of the other cute furry friends eat out of the palm of your hand (feed is available for pocket change and hand sanitizers are on-site too). Afterwards, kids can burn off steam by swinging at the large playground, climbing the mountain of tires or playing atop hay bales. Depending upon the season that you visit, apple picking, corn mazes and train rides are also a fun option.
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Minnesota State Fair
1265 Snelling Ave. N.
St. Paul, MN 55108
Date: Aug. 21 – Sept. 1, 2014
For the mother of all Minnesota petting zoos, check out the Minnesota State Fair’s many animal exhibits. At the CHS Miracle of Birth Center, folks can see, and oftentimes pet, brand-new baby animals who were born at the fair. If you’re lucky, you may even stop by to witness a live birth. Other areas to get up-close to the animals include the Pet Center for dogs and cats, the Horse Barn, Baa Booth and many more.
Wells Fargo Family Farm
13000 Zoo Blvd.
Apple Valley, MN 55124
For a chance to get acquainted with common farm animals and learn all about how they live, check out this seasonal exhibit at the Minnesota Zoo. Educated volunteers will fill you in on what each animal eats, their typical activities and the purpose they serve on a farm. To get hands-on, visit the attention-seeking goats in their barn or cozy up to the cuddly sheep. There are also chickens, pigs, horses, cows and rabbits to visit with as well.
Cortney Mohnk is a freelance writer covering all things Minnesota. She is also a public relations and event planning professional. Her most important job is mother to her young daughter, who is her partner-in-crime when checking out the family entertainment scene in the Twin Cities. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.