This is the third part in a series of posts that I will be publishing in the coming months about my secret “socially distanced outings” that I have been taking our kids on recently (click here to read my first post and here to read the second post). Yes, we continue to visit places like Carkeek Park and some unique places for bike/scooter riding (more on these later) but with the reopening of local playgrounds and parks, the husband and I have begun to grow a bit uncomfortable with the number of people milling around places like Discovery Park, Seward Park, etc. As many of us have learned, it is very hard to stay six feet away from others on trails, beaches and open areas.
My childhood of climbing trees, fishing, building hay forts, swimming in the river, and riding horses on my family’s farm in Forks, WA couldn’t be more different than how my own children are growing up in Seattle.
I never felt this more than when my son recently asked me if a cow he saw had tusks!!! Needless to say, I love any opportunity I can give them to spend time in a farm setting (and obviously we need to do it more).
The Sammamish Animal Sanctuary is a place where neglected animals get a second chance at a happy existence. The animals receive any necessary medical attention, loving care, and in some cases are adopted out.
It is a fantastic place to take the kids to have a realistic farm experience. You can feed the animals all the lettuce and carrots you want, and you can also go inside the pens with the animals. It’s a great, inexpensive outdoor activity that is only a 30-40 minute drive from Seattle (in no traffic). Visiting the Sanctuary is free but they do accept donations to help keep the farm running.
Our first trip there was on a Saturday in June of this year. We went early in the day and it was a nice surprise that it wasn’t too busy. We had hoped to return to the farm for another visit sooner than our next visit in October, but they actually were closed to the public for a while due to COVID-19.
The Sammamish Animal Sanctuary has since moved to a reservation-only visitation program for visitors. This helps to keep the number of guests limited at any given time to ensure good social distancing is possible. Each reservation is for two hours which is plenty of time to enjoy the Sanctuary to its fullest. They had been only offering Friday, Saturday, and Sunday time slots, but have added Wednesdays for the month of November as well. Masks are required during the visit. You can make reservations by clicking here.
After our June visit, my kids couldn’t wait to go back! It was a little cold and drizzly when we went in October, but we came prepared with warm coats and rubber boots.
My daughter and older son especially loved the large goats while my younger son really liked the pigs. I think the mini horses and the donkeys are a lot of fun with their sassy personalities!
I highly recommend going into the pens with the animals, especially the small goats. My kids had a blast spending time with all of the animals even after we had fed them all the treats we had brought. They were a little intimidated by the large goats and also by the donkeys, but it was nice to be able to show them that they didn’t need to be afraid. They felt really comfortable around the small goats which were more their size.
On this trip, we were also able to go see the farm’s newest guest, a nearly blind calf named Amelia. One of the volunteers walked us through the field into her special shed where we gave her a lot of scratches and pets.
Between tromping through the fields and feeding and petting all of the animals, our hands were really dirty. Thankfully there is a hand washing station under the cover of the barn so that you can clean up before heading back to the car.
My tips if you go:
- Wear boots and bring an extra change of shoes and clothes for the kids, or better yet outfit kids in a Muddy Buddy (or similar) rain suit.
- Bring a garbage bag to keep muddy boots in the trunk after your visit as the fields can be muddy even when the weather is dry.
- Bring your own sanitizer AND wet wipes to have handy in your pocket. Your hands will get REALLY dirty if you feed and pet the animals a lot.
- Bring more carrots and lettuce than you think you need (and I recommend bringing some of each). We plowed through TWO huge Costco bags of carrots on our last trip there, and I thought I was only going to need one bag! It is just WAY too much fun feeding the animals! Baby carrots or carrot sticks work great because they provide for a longer “handle” if anyone is timid about feeding the animals. My kids weren’t comfortable holding the treats flat in their hands until near the end of our visit. Large, whole carrots can be more difficult for the animals (except the horses and donkeys) to eat. My kids were sad we didn’t bring lettuce on this past visit for the pigs and ducks to eat.
- If you don’t have time to plan ahead or run out of the treats you bring too quickly there are animal snacks for purchase for $3/cup.
- It works great for each child to have their own cup or bag of treats to feed the animals.
- Long hair should be up and out of the way if you go into the goat pen…there are several shameless goats who like to nibble on hair!
- There is no cost to visit the Sammamish Animal Sanctuary but please consider a donation so that Diane and Don can keep the facility running!
We hadn’t even left the Sammamish Animal Sanctuary gates before my kids asked when we could come back again. This outing will definitely be on heavy rotation in the coming months so I can expose my kids to a little slice of farm life! Check it out and enjoy!