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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Traveling with kids around Vancouver: visiting Maplewood Farm, North Vancouver

Today was Victoria Day, a holiday Monday here in British Columbia, so I took my kids to Maplewood Farm in North Vancouver. The farm is located in a mainly residential neighborhood near a large wooded area on the other side of the Ironworker's Memorial Bridge (more commonly known as the Second Narrows bridge) if you're coming from Vancouver.

The kids have been there a few times and always love it. There are lots of animals to see, including horses, ponies, cows, pot-bellied pigs, ducks and donkeys. Chickens (and some very handsome roosters) range freely on the grounds, and there's a small barn with very big white rabbits to pet and feed. The farm also has a a special "petting zoo" paddock with very docile goats and sheep: always a huge thrill for the kids.

King of the (dung) hill.
The biggest thrill for my kids on this particular visit, however, was the closeup of the peacock. He was prancing around with his tail-feathers on full display behind the barn, and then proceeded to drag those tail-feathers up onto the dung heap... Talk about close encounters of the farm kind!

We also caught the popular milking show today for the first time, and got to see a friendly Jersey cow being milked by hand.  Next weekend we might be heading back for another visit, since it's Sheep Shearing Day on Sunday May 29. There will apparently be lots of shearing, sheep dogs, carding and spinning of wool.

Admission & facilities
Admission to Maplewood Farm is $7 for adults and $4 for children (19 months - 16 years old). There's a parking lot with a nice playground just outside the farm, and washrooms on the grounds.

The farm has a small souvenir shop, but no café or restaurant so bring your own food and drinks if you plan on eating there. There are lots of picnic tables and green grass to sit on (bring a big blanket), so it's a nice spot for an outdoor lunch or afternoon snack.

For clean-hand freaks like me, there is lots of soap, several sinks and many dispensers of antibacterial gel provided at the farm to clean hands after touching the animals. I always bring some hand sanitizer or antibacterial wipes with me too.

Word of warning: If you have a child who enjoys riding kid-sized pedal-powered tractors, you might get stuck right at the entrance like we did today with my son staring at the tractors. (He seemed to forget all about those animals once he saw them). There's a few tractors (all looking kind of well-used) "tied up" at the fence and you can rent one for $4 for 30 minutes.

Maplewood Farm is definitely a fun place to visit with kids and very child-friendly. Just pick a dry day to go there: I've visited once in the rain and it's just too muddy and messy to be any real fun.

Update! You can also follow Maplewood Farm on twitter.

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