Kids love animals, but there aren’t a lot of options in Vancouver for getting your kids up-close-and-personal with animals that aren’t someone’s pet (the skunks trolling your neighbourhood after dark don’t count). There’s the amazing Vancouver Aquarium, of course, and the Greater Vancouver Zoo (in Aldergrove), but neither let the kids touch the animals. For that, you have to go to Maplewood Farm in North Vancouver.
The only remaining farm on the North Shore, Maplewood Farm may be best described as a “petting zoo” for farm animals; it’s a popular Vancouver kids’ attraction aimed at children under 10. Home to over 200 animals and birds, Maplewood Farm lets kids pet the goats, feed the rabbits and ducks, and visit cows, sheep, horses, pigs, chickens, and birds. It’s likely to be the closest your urban kid gets to an actual farm experience, and it’s just 20 minutes away from downtown Vancouver.
Situated on five acres of farmland at the base of Mount Seymour, Maplewood Farm was an actual working dairy farm in the 1920s – 1950s, providing milk and cream throughout North Vancouver, from Deep Cove to Lonsdale. The North Vancouver Parks Department acquired the farm in the early 1970s and opened it to the public in 1975, to serve as both an educational farm experience for kids and to preserve some of North Vancouver’s agriculture heritage.
Today’s Maplewood Farm lets visitors explore at their own pace. Families can wander through the barns (quietly peeking at any young animals; yesterday my kid and I saw a beautiful calf) and chicken coops, feed birdseed to the ducks by the pond (you can buy birdseed at the farm), and pet the Pygmy goats on “Goathill.” Kids big enough to ride a tricycle can also rent ($4 for 30 minutes) a “pedal tractor” to ride around the farm.
The farm also has once-daily, live milking demonstrations, custom “pony rides” for kids (though you must book the pony ride in advance), and an annual Sheep Fair the last weekend in May, when the Farm’s flock of sheep are shorn by a professional shearer after being “worked” by Border Collie Dogs.
Maplewood Farm is open daily, rain or shine. Do have the kids wear boots, even if it’s not raining—they’ll be walking around inside the animals’ areas, so extra protection is a good thing! And bring your own fresh vegetables to feed the rabbits.
Been to Maplewood Farm? I’d love to hear your opinion in the comments!