A few months ago, we found toddler heaven: The Davis Farmland in Sterling, Mass. I grew up in greater Boston, but somehow missed this place. The reality is that is a gem for children and parents. In essence it is a cross between an outdoor play space, a farm and the world's largest petting zoo. It is fun, family-friendly, educational, warm and welcoming.
They have kittens, rabbits, so many kinds of goats, cows, Vietnamese potbelly pigs, llamas, peacocks and more.
When you walk in you can buy some animal feed. (It isn't too pricey). My son loved the chance to feed the animals.
Rather than a zoo where the animals are at a distance, the workers will help to bring your child right up to the animal and to pet (or even brush them!) In fact, part of what made the place such a pleasure was the people who worked there. Most of the staff that walked around were their late teens. They were knowledgeable about the animals and were all friendly and fantastic with the kids.
I also loved how much space there was for Raphael to run around. We visited in October when it was about to close for the season but we got a peak at their sprinkler park that is apparently in full swing in the summer. I could see how a family could spend a full day here! There were other little touches that made it so parent friendly-a healthy menu at the cafe, bandaids and antiseptic solution throughout the space. There was also an area with push-cars, a playground, many family friendly bathrooms and a place for kids to paint their own faces.
It wasn't cheap, but as it was World Teacher day, I got in free (!) and I recently discovered that our local library has passes. So we will definitely return when Davis reopens in the spring.
For us, though, it wouldn't be a FoodieMommy outing without some great eats. And as it was the height of the fall, we made a few side trips. First we went to Nashoba Valley Winery to pick apples. To be honest, it was a bit too crowded for my taste and wine-tasting wasn't happening with the kids in tow. Though they had a great range of apples, a late summer hail storm meant that the apples were best for apple sauce due to all the bumps and bruises. However, the homemade caramel apple pictured at the beginning of this post was fantastic. And my sons loved picking and eating the apples.
Image above from Bolton OrchardsBut the last stop brought the tastiest treats: at the Bolton Orchards I bought real (non- pasteurized) apple cider, apple dumplings and cider donuts. They were all phenomenal and all worth the wait.
A perfect fall outing. A bit late for this year, but plan now for the next!