Kids + Animals = Keeping them away from the IPad (at least for a few hours!) If you live in or around Orange County, New York (its a short drive from New York City) get outside and enjoy.
The Bear Mountain Trailside Museums & Zoo, located on a portion of the Appalachian Trail,is the home to animals native to New York State. All of the animals are either permanently injured or orphaned and not able to survive in the wild. Their zoo presence offers visitors the chance to see these creatures up close and learn about the importance of conserving their natural habitat. Included are a wide range of native mammals and birds, as well as a variety of reptiles, amphibians and fish.
Visitors can also ride the animal-themed carousel at Bear Mountain State Park, only a short walk from the zoo. Located in an Adirondack-style pavilion, the carousel features specially carved animals, selected because they are indigenous to the area. www.palisadesparksconservancy.org, 845-786-2701.
The Hudson Highlands Nature Museum’s Wildlife Education Center in Cornwall offers an indoor mini-zoo where a great horned owl, screech owls, mice, turtles, snakes, frogs and salamanders reside. The education center features interactive displays designed to keep young children busy. Demonstrations by museum educators introduce children to a new animal every weekend. The nature center is open Friday through Sunday from noon to 4 p.m., and currently features the special exhib called “Marvelous Moths.” www.hhnaturemuseum.org, 845-534-7781.
Bellvale Farms in Warwick offers families the opportunity to learn howmilking a cow is handled. Tours, which include visiting the young calves, are offered by reservation at 12:30 p.m. on Sundays through October. Visitors often end the tour with a visit to the Bellvale Farm Creamery, just up the hill from the farm, for homemade ice cream and a view of the Warwick Valley. www.bellvalefarms.com, 845-988-1818.
Families can pick berries or vegetables and visit barnyard animals at Lawrence Farms in Newburgh.www.lawrencefarmsorchards.com, 845-562-4268. Ochs Orchards in Warwick also offers visitors the same opportunities. www.ochsorchard.net, 845-986-1591.
Barnyard animals are at the petting zoo at Pennings Farm Market Orchard Pub & Grill in Warwick, where the lunch menu features selections based on what’s grown on the farm. www.penningsfarmmarket.com, 845-986-1059.
The Orange County Farmers Museum in Montgomery offers a hen house visit and weekend tractor pull events. www.ocfarmersmuseum.com, 845-457-2959.
Museum Village in Monroe also offers animal visits at its barn. www.museumvillage.org, 845-782-8247.
During apple picking season, Newburgh’sOverlook Farm Market’s resident pig Sunny will greet visitors. www.overlookfarmmarket.com, 845-562-5780.
At Warwick’s Apple Ridge Orchards, Drummer the dog will be ready to meet children. www.appleridgeorchards.com. 845-987-7717.
For something more exotic, visit the alpacas at Rock Ridge Alpacas in Chester. www.rockridgealpacas.com, 845-469-6196. Shalimar Alpacas in Warwick also welcomes visitors to see its herd. www.shalimaralpacas.com,845-258-0851. These animals contribute the fiber woven into the goods found at the gift stores.