If you have lived in the Hudson Valley for more than five minutes I  guarantee you have run into someone talking about The Catskill Game Farm. I was lucky I made one trip with the school kids I used to work with. So, I was able to see it in its glory. But my kids will never get to see it.

Last year we made the trip to see Trevor Zoo in Millbrook, NY. It is a unique little zoo as well. But once you see the animals and tailgate your lunch in the parking lot there isn’t much else to see or do for little ones. We loved it and it is perfect for small kids.

This year we made our way to the Adirondack Animal Land in Vails Mills, NY. It is about an hour and a half away from us in Saugerties, but worth every minute of the drive! We planned our visit on a Monday to avoid crowds. Here is what we loved:


The paved walkway is perfect for little feet and the stroller crowd. If you have a family member in a wheel chair the path is wide enough to accommodate. The staff is so super friendly and helpful. They keep the area really clean. There are some hilly parts to the grounds, but you can see those on the map areas and avoid if necessary.



We arrived at lunch time and had a tailgate picnic in the parking lot. That seems to be our style so I don’t have to lug anything extra with me. Yeah, I know how kids are, “can you carry this for me puhleeheez!” There are several picnic areas throughout the park. All very roomy and clean! There are plenty of little houses and climbers and fun photo ops in each picnic area. Plenty to keep kids entertained.  My kids were a little disappointed I didn’t bring our lunch inside. We were so close to the Zebras we could have had lunch with them.






The highlight of this trip for my girls is their close encounter with real life giraffes. It was such a special moment to document the first time my little animal lovers got this close to their favorite animal. All of the animals are born on the property and remain on the property. None of them are being pulled from the wild, or shipped off to who knows where. Every animal seems healthy and well cared for. You can tell by the way the staff interacts with the animals they are treated well.




Most of the animal pens have a food dispenser nearby. For just a quarter your kid can purchase a small handful of pellets to hand feed specific animals, or send it down the feeding tube. There are labels on the fences near the food dispensers noting which animals bite.

We especially loved getting to hand feed the fallow deer. These gorgeous and gentle creatures were not timid about letting us pet them and offer them food. The feed was $2.00 per cup, but it was a large cup and the kids had plenty of chances to meet a deer.



I am typically not a fan of drive through safaris. I think the amount of auto exhaust is not safe or healthy for the animals. And I don’t like the potential to run over an animal. However, for this part of the experience you board a tractor lead wagon. This means only one vehicle driving through which ensures everyone’s safety. We had some very close up visits from the Ostriches, Water Buffalo and Camels. It was all under the safe direction of our tour guides. My girls were thrilled!



I have to confess I am not a fan of small birds. They kind of freak me out with their little tiny beaks and beady eyes. It never fails when I meet a small bird they want to climb all over me. So walking into the aviary building with what I believe are thousands of tiny birds was no easy feat. (OK maybe one hundred, but it felt like thousands!). However, my little adventure seeking animal lovers walked right in without a care. For $2.00 you can buy a little stick of bird seed to feed the birds with. My girls LOVED this. As soon as you hold out the sticks the birds flock to you for a taste. My kids had 2-3 birds on each hand while I was hiding behind my husband avoiding eye contact with any feathered beasts.



This little city is super cute and fun to explore. With its interactive exhibits and period decor, kids are invited to interact with the jail cell, an old barber shop, post office and bank and more. It is a lot of fun for kids and adults.



We did not purchase our food at the snack shack, although it did smell really good! It wasn’t terribly priced. There is a screened in area for families to eat free from pests. Right next to the seating area is a covered row of ride on machines, like row boats, lions, horses, etc. Each one cost a quarter and is great to keep kids occupied while waiting for the safari tour.


We spent nearly four ours here from start to finish. We enjoyed every second of climbing and playing and bonding with the animals; from camels to lemurs to zebras and pot belly pigs we loved them all! It was a really easy and fun day trip outside of our little town!

What you need to know: This is a cash only establishment. Children 12 Months and under are free. You cannot feed animals outside food, but  you can bring in your own. The family bathrooms are clean and well maintained and there are porta-potties located all through out the park (also clean). TIPS: Instead of buying super expensive plastic souvenirs we purchased a Christmas ornament for our tree and let the kids each press a penny with the Animal Land logo for $0.50.  Right now you can snag a $2.00 off each admission ticket (until 9/5/16).

The Whatever Mom is a full-time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here. You can also find her musings and popular shares on Facebook and Twitter. Stay up to date with her creative ideas and outings on Pinterest.