Do you and your kids love animals? Have you ever wanted to hug a cow? Well, here’s your chance. Visiting the Gentle Barn, kids of all ages get to pet, hug, or just enjoy being around farm yard animals for a day. The perfect way to put a smile on your face. You’ll love it!
The Gentle Barn is a unique concept of a petting zoo, located near Santa Clarita, California. We visited this amazing place with our three-year-old grandson and all of us, adults and children alike, had the time of our lives.
Have you ever considered visiting a farm to take some adorable photos of your children, auntie, or anyone else with beautifully decorated cows wearing bows and ribbons? You can also visit the horse pasture and feed the horses while enjoying a great photo opportunity. It’s a fun and unique experience well worth trying!
What is the Gentle Barn Known For?
We had the opportunity to take a tour of the Gentle Barn facilities and meet all the animals, which were all rescue animals. The Gentle Barn is famous for its cows, most of which have been rescued from the dairy or beef production process. It’s heartwarming to know that these animals have been given a second chance at life.
The idea behind the cow hugging experience was not just to rescue animals, but also to use their stories to connect with underprivileged children or those with mental health issues. The farm is home to a variety of animals, including cows, turkeys, chickens, dogs, horses, donkeys, and even pigs. Although most of them are barnyard animals, each one has a unique story to tell.
Gentle Barn Arrival and Briefing
When you arrive, you must first show your ticket at the booth and attend a brief orientation on what to expect, where to find things like restrooms, and how to behave around the animals. Volunteers at each enclosure, whether it’s the horse, cow, or pig enclosure, will provide further instructions on how to interact with the animals in that area.
To ensure safety, there are plenty of hand disinfectant stations throughout the farm that you can use before touching the animals. There are also handwashing stations nearby to wash your hands as you exit.
One of the unique things about The Gentle Barn is that both kids and adults can go into the different areas where the animals are pastured or kept in their living areas. Visitors can pet, hug, and spend time with the animals.
What We Liked about the Gentle Barn
Our experience was that there were so many volunteers who wanted to work at the gentle barn that most of the animals, if not all, had a person who looked after them specifically.
What that means is that they spent the time to get to know the animal: know what frightens them, know where the animal likes to be touched and petted, whether the animal likes to be brushed, likes to be hugged, if it likes children, or if it wants to be left alone.
Really the volunteer gets to know all the ins and outs of that particular animal, and they definitely talk about the animal with pride and love.
Talking to the volunteers, you get to hear all kinds of information and stories about each individual animal. The volunteer will often tell you their rescue story, their history at the Gentle Barn, and all kinds of fun facts and tidbits. It makes the entire experience so much more fulfilling.
One of the main reasons we went to the Gentle Barn was so that AJ, our three-year-old grandson, could hug and pet the cows. Every time he drives by a pasture, he points out the cows and calls them “cow, cow”. So, we decided to make his dream come true and take him to the Gentle Barn, where he could get up close and personal with the cows; all the other animals were just a bonus.
What’s funny is when you approach these animals they’re so much larger than you expect, and for a three-year-old who is about 2 to 2 1/2 feet tall it’s pretty imposing, to say the least. When you first enter, the docents hand you a brush. We all took one and it gave us something to do while we grew accustomed to being in the cow enclosure.
The volunteers were worried about the cows swinging their heavy heads around or stepping on us, so we were warned to be really careful about our position. Someone was always nearby to make sure we were safe, too. We found the cows were quite gentle and seemed to enjoy being brushed and petted.
Where is the Gentle Barn?
During our recent visit, we went to The Gentle Barn located in Santa Clarita, California. It’s worth noting that there are two other Gentle Barn locations, one in Nashville, Tennessee, and the other in St. Louis, Missouri. However, we only visited the original one in California, where the founder has been living for over 20 years. Luckily it’s open all year and is not far from some of the California ski resorts with the most snow.
Address: 15825 Sierra Hwy, Santa Clarita, CA 91390
Getting to the Gentle Barn in Santa Clarita
The Gentle Barn is conveniently located very close to Los Angeles. You can easily slide it into your itinerary, giving the kids a unique barnyard experience. Another good option is to make it a stop on your I-5 road trip.
Directions from I-5: Take exit 162 to California highway north to Sand Canyon Rd.
Best Time to Go
When we visited the place during the summer, we had a great time. The place was bustling with lots of people and the weather was warm and comfortable. However, it did get a little too hot at times, so I would recommend visiting during spring or fall. Winter would also be a great time to visit. Really, you can visit the place at any time of the year and have a great experience.
The best time to visit the Gentle Barn would be right after it opens and the animals haven’t had too much people exposure. Just like humans, they don’t want to be bothered all day long. The volunteers do make sure that they get breaks and time away from people as well.
Things to Do at the Gentle Barn
During your visit to the animal sanctuary, you can explore the various types of animals in their enclosures and interact with them through activities such as hugging, brushing, and feeding (in some cases).
Additionally, there is a café on site offering vegan food options, as well as a small shop. The sanctuary focuses on animal rehabilitation and requires significant funding to save and rehabilitate animals in the area. Visitors can sponsor the animals and contribute to this amazing cause.
What We Did
Our first task of the day was to visit the cows. It was at the top of our to-do list, and we wanted to make sure we looked our best for the photos. Additionally, we were keen to get there early, while it was still relatively quiet, because it can become crowded later in the day.
During our initial briefing, there were around 25 people, so we wanted to make sure we had the opportunity to interact with the cows before it got too busy. As we were leaving, we noticed that there were already lines forming to gain access to the cow enclosure.
After that, we visited the horses and fed them carrot pieces, which was one of the highlights of the day. The lady selling the carrot pieces was hilarious, cracking a joke for each person who came up to buy them. Her kindness and love for the animals was evident, and she was a great representative of the volunteers at the Gentle Barn.
After visiting the horses, we walked up the hill to a farmyard where we saw various animals such as chickens, pigs, turkeys, a llama, and an emu. Upon entering the enclosure, we were able to interact with the animals, some of which were resting or taking naps.
While some were initially closed off, they were later let out by the volunteers, who were careful not to let them become overexerted. The animals are rescued and living their lives here, so they are not always on display. This is a great way for them to enjoy their lives in peace.
We really enjoyed seeing, petting, and interacting with both the animals as well as their caretakers.
If you’re planning to visit the Gentle Barn, it is important to buy your tickets beforehand. Our family decided to visit on a Sunday afternoon, and we were impressed by the whole experience, from buying tickets online to finding ample parking.
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What to bring?
When visiting any Gentle Barn location, it’s recommended that you wear appropriate outdoor clothing such as jeans, a shirt, or sturdy, closed-toe shoes. This will ensure your safety around the animals and prevent any scratches or other injuries. Additionally, it’s crucial to protect yourself from the sun and avoid overheating with a large floppy hat, and, it goes without saying, bring your sun cream.
Don’t forget to have your ticket on your phone. You can order tickets from their website. We recommend that as soon as you know when you’d like to go, start looking at tickets, they sell out quickly. We had to wait two weeks for a space, so just don’t wait until the last minute.
Where to Stay
Being so close to L.A. a lot of people will be staying in the city and heading out to the Gentle Barn on a day trip.
Some of our favorite recommendations for L.A. hotels are:
- Palihotel Westwood Village – gorgeous and stunning, old LA!
- Citizen M Los Angeles Downtown – quirky decor and lots of fun.
- Luskin Hotel – lots of amenities and extremely comfy.
- Hotel Aventura – Quiet even though it’s conveniently located.
Staying in Santa Clarita allows for time to explore other activities in the area like Six Flags Magic Mountain. There are a few great options in that area:
- Hotel Lexen – Affordable and stylish boutique hotel with super-comfy rooms and excellent ratings.
- Santa Clarita Motel – Old school drive-up motel in the city center with clean rooms at a good price.
Where to Eat
As I mentioned, there is a café on site where you can have a small lunch or snack. Apparently, their vegan hot dogs are pretty darn good. We didn’t eat there because we were hankering for California’s favorite hamburger joint, In n’ Out, with a store right there in Santa Clarita.
More Things to Do Nearby-ish
- Ronald Reagan Presidential Library
- Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve
- Channel Islands National Park and some other Southwestern National Parks
If you’re looking for an enjoyable activity for children in the Los Angeles or Southern California area, The Gentle Barn is a must-visit. Apart from that, there are several other exciting things you can do in the vicinity, such as experiencing a super bloom at the California State Poppy Reserve or wakeboarding at nearby Lake Castaic. A little further afield there’s Channel Islands National Park, Hollywood and Disneyland, and much more.
Author Bio – Corinne is an avid camper and traveler. She’s been to all 50 of the US states and has four more Canadian provinces to visit. However, she’s not stopping yet. There’s always more to see of this great continent! Corinne loves local foods, getting outdoors, landscape photography, and road trips.