Looking to get up close and personal with furry friends? We’ve roamed the UK to find out where best to walk with beasts, or at least give them a pat, during your weekend break…
The City Farm: Gorse Hill City Farm
Good news: this 20-acre site on the outskirts of Leicester is open 365 days a year. Home to over 100 animals including favourites like ponies, donkeys, rabbits, guinea pigs, and budgies, it’s the perfect urban farm experience.
In springtime, don’t miss the newborn lambs, goat kids, piglets and chicks!
A ‘Rare Breed Survival Trust-approved City Farm’ with Shetland cattle, Middle White pigs and Golden Guernsey goats, it’s also a great place to meet unusual breeds.
But it’s not just about animals. You’ll find a playground, picnic benches, a wildlife garden and pond, and a gift shop, should you want to bring home a souvenir.
Stay in one of our Leicester hotels and you can catch a football match or visit Snibstone Discovery Park too.
The Petting Zoo: Bucklebury Farm Park
Head to Berkshire’s Bucklebury Farm Park near Reading to experience their famous ‘deer safaris.’
Set across 70 acres of parkland, it’s a great place to meet the local farmyard animals, from ponies to pigs. The ‘pat a pet’ area is a hit with the kids, who can get friendly with rabbits and guinea pigs.
Other attractions for junior guests include free tractor or trailer rides and the indoor play area with slides.
Outside, don’t miss the adventure playground, the nature trails for bigger kids and a nice walk in the woodland followed by a picnic.
The sweet-toothed should try Woody’s, the farm’s super-cosy café, where you can sip on steaming mugs of Montbana hot chocolate and try delicious homemade cake. For savoury snacks like egg and bacon rolls, try the Little Green Food Wagon – or bring along your own from your Reading Travelodge bar cafe.
The Zoo: ZSL London Zoo
Set in Regent’s Park, this huge conservation centre is the world’s oldest scientific zoo. It’s home to creatures great and small including tigers, lemurs and giraffes.
Make time to visit the new Gorilla Kingdom exhibit as well as the tropical Rainforest Life. Other highlights include daily penguin and lion feedings, and meeting the monkeys in the Bolivian rainforest enclosure.
Getting there is easy, thanks to the 274 and C2 buses or the underground. Hop off at Camden Town or Baker Street and take a 20-minute stroll through Regent’s Park.
Pack a picnic or stop for lunch at the Terrace restaurant for an oven-baked pizza, the Aquarium Kiosk for a quick snack or the Animal Adventure Café for a sweet treat.
Stay at the nearby Marylebone Travelodge, a mere 1.6 miles away from the zoo!
The Safari Park: Longleat
The first ever safari park outside Africa, Longleat is famous for its drive-through safari experience. Here you’ll get up close with everything from zebras to rhinos, wolves and of course, the famous monkeys who define the word ‘cheeky’.
Kids will love the Adventure Castle – an amazing playground – and the Hedge Maze – one of the world’s longest labyrinths. And don’t miss new rides like the Rockin’ Rhino!
Parents will appreciate the 900 acres of landscaped grounds by Capability Brown and the stately home’s beautiful Elizabethan architecture.
Feel the need to refuel? Fear not, Longleat has several options, ranging from the smart Orangery for tea and pastries to the Watering Hole Café in the ‘African village’ and the Tropical Storm Café, amongst others.
Escape to the Travelodge in Warminster, under 4 miles away from Longleat, where kids stay free.