Horses and Goats and Alpacas, Oh My: 5 Great Spots to Get Your Animal Fix Upstate

Snuggle up with some furry friends at the Woodstock Animal Sanctuary in High Falls. Photo via Woodstock Animal Sanctuary

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    The adorable animals that overload your Facebook feed need not be just a digital fix. Upstate New York offers tons of great opportunities to get up close and personal with your favorite winged, scaled and four-legged friends. Sate your craving for cuteness galore at these great animal escapes.

    Woodstock Animal Sanctuary (High Falls, N.Y.)

    Cuddle and belly-rub cows, chickens, bunnies, goats and more. All the animals at the Woodstock Animal Sanctuary, pictured above, have been saved from situations rife with abuse and neglect. An animal refuge, retreat and education center, the Sanctuary offers visitors the opportunity to tour the premises and meet the animals with experienced guides. The Sanctuary promotes a meat-free lifestyle, and while you are welcome to bring your own bag lunch, they request it be vegan. There’s also a snack shop on the premises. The Sanctuary opens to visitors on April 2.

    How to visit: The Sanctuary is open to the public from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays from April 2 through October 30, with no reservation necessary. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for kids, which includes tours given at 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.
    Distance from Brooklyn: Two hours
    Getting there: It’s most easily accessible by car, but you can also take a Trailways Bus to New Paltz or Rosendale and grab a cab from this list conveniently provided by the Sanctuary. Cab fare is approximately $20-$30.

    Hang with a pack-a alpacas at Faraway Farm in Yorktown Heights. Photo via Faraway Farm

    Hang with a pack-a alpacas at Faraway Farm in Yorktown Heights. Photo via Faraway Farm

    Faraway Farm Alpacas (Yorktown Heights, N.Y.)

    Could there be any greater joy in the world than staring into the goofy grin of an alpaca? Schedule a visit to Faraway Farm and transport yourself to a universe of rolling fields and fuzzy friends where you’ll learn all about the care, history and uses for alpacas’ soft-as-clouds fleece. An on-site store offers alpaca garments, yarn and more, as well as crafts from local artisans. As a bonus, Faraway Farm also has Icelandic Horses — also a treat to meet.

    How to visit: Visits are by appointment only and can be made by emailing leda@farawayfarmalpacas.com. Farm tours cost $15 for adults and $7.50 for children under 12.
    Distance from Brooklyn: One hour
    Getting there: The farm is accessible by car or by taking the Metro North Railroad to the Croton Harmon train station and transferring to a cab.

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    Westchester Trail Rides (Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y.)

    Giddy up and get yourself to Westchester Trail Rides for a relaxing stroll (or canter…or gallop…) through 7,000 acres of the lush wilds of Westchester. Great for a range of experience levels, faithful steeds Apache, Gabrielito and Buddy will ride you into sunsets and fun — English or Western style.

    How to visit: Email chaffeemo@optonline.com or call (914) 539-2987 for more information. Rates vary.
    Distance from Brooklyn: One hour
    Getting there: Reach the trails by car or Metro North Railroad to Croton-on-Hudson.

    Flutter-by the butterflies at Rainbow's End Butterfly Farm & Nursery in Pawling, N.Y. Photo via Rainbow's End

    Flutter-by the butterflies at Rainbow’s End Butterfly Farm & Nursery in Pawling, N.Y. Photo via Rainbow’s End

    Rainbow’s End Butterfly Farm & Nursery (Pawling, N.Y.)

    Experience the power of transformation at Rainbow’s End Butterfly Farm & Nursery. Fostering the growth of vital pollinator populations, Rainbow’s End is a pot of gold when it comes to caterpillars, butterflies and nourishing habitats. They aren’t open until the weather warms up, but are a great stop to keep in mind for summer escapes.

    How to visit: Contact info@rainbowsendfarm.biz or call (845) 832-6749 for visitation information.
    Distance from Brooklyn: One hour, 45 minutes
    Getting there: Your best bet is by car.

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    Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture (Tarrytown, N.Y.)

    The gang at the sustainability-minded Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture delights in sharing their flocks, herds and gaggles with visitors eager to learn about farm life and raising healthy, happy animals. Plus, if you’re looking for a wool-derful time, limited ticket packages remain for the Center’s Annual Sheep Shearing Fest on April 30.

    How to visit: The center is open to visitors on Saturday and Sundays. Tickets, which the center recommends purchasing online in advance, cost $20 for adults and $10 for youth. Free passes are available at a range of Westchester libraries and for members.
    Distance from Brooklyn: One hour
    Getting there: Stone Barns is most accessible by car, but you can also take the Metro North Railroad to Tarrytown and catch a cab from there.

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