Orange County is a fortunate place with supreme weather. It’s where residents and visitors can enjoy amazing outdoor activities and choose from a variety of fun places to visit. The OC is home to deserts, beaches and mountains filled with exciting, daring and adrenaline pumping adventures. However, sometimes you’re looking for serenity, and quiet nature.
Orange County offers plenty of calming and relaxing activities for friends and families to discover. When was the last time you saw baby pigs or took a baby goat Yoga class at your local petting zoo? Not all petting zoos offer the class, but doesn’t that sound cool? Here are Orange County’s best petting zoos.
Zoomars at River Street Ranch
31791 Los Rios Street San Juan Capistrano, CA
San Juan Capistrano is home to Zoomars Petting Zoo. Zoomars is part of the River Ranch Family, a family-owned ranch standing since 1890. It’s an open air, Spanish style ranch with lots of sunshine and farm charm. Zoomars, for many Orange County residents, is considered a destination petting zoo. It is in the heart of the city and steps from the train station, which really attracts OC locals and visitors. What a fun filled day to take the train to a petting zoo! The train ride itself may be the most memorable part of the day.
Zoomars is the perfect petting zoo for littler toddlers and younger children. The goats, guinea pigs, sheep, and chickens are so friendly and just the right size for tiny handlers. The furry bunnies in cozy pens are very kid-friendly and often hop into little laps. It’s always snack time at Zoomars. Small baskets of fresh vegetables are available for everyone to giggle and feed the animals. Pony rides are also a popular attraction. You’ll also find curious llamas, soft alpacas, and patient cows at Zoomars Petting Zoo.
The atmosphere is SoCal relaxed and there are plenty of resting spots in the shade. There is so much more to do than petting animals. Zoomars offers plenty of interactive activities and time really does fly by here. After being a kid with the kids, hop on the mini train, mine for treasures, or enjoy riding mini tractors.
Weekdays: 10:00am to 4:00pm
Weekends: 10:00am to 4:00pm
5380 ¾ University Drive, Irvine, CA
Although it is one of Orange County’s oldest working farms, Tanaka Farms is headlining the newest approach to traditional petting zoos. Director Shelmarie is excited about taking an innovative approach in aligning meaningful interaction with animals and guests.
Formerly known as the petting zoo, Tanaka Farms has changed direction and rebranded its animal experience as the Barnyard Educational Experience. We are excited because this program is unique for OC residents and visitors. Baby are you ready? We’re talking about the baby goats that will join you in Baby Goat Yoga Class! Tanaka Farms is now offering this fun yoga class. Sarah Brown is the class instructor and has her credentials from the registered Moksha Yoga Amazonica School near Cuzco, Peru. This class is designed to relax the baby goat and the participant. This one-hour yoga class is for all levels and sells out fast. Be sure to check the website for dates, times and to reserve your spot online. Little goats will gently hop and climb alongside you as you stretch and give a great big smile. It is an amazing opportunity to try something new and make a new little buddy.
The Educational Exhibit has a brilliant interactive story time involving the farm animals. Shelmarie and her team provide a safe environment for the rescued animals to make new friends, and everyone loves to listen to a great book. After Storytime, guests can visit with the animals and share quality time together. The Barnyard Exhibit features the familiar farm family of donkeys, goats, sheep, and a pony. Come and curl up with a good book alongside a cute mini cow!
Older children will enjoy the Chicken & Sprouts Workshop. This workshop teaches children how chickens grow inside eggs and how plants grow inside the soil. It’s a fantastic hands-on class for children to recognize the similarities and differences between the two. After class, the children will have time to visit with the very animals they just learned about.
Admission & Hours:
All activities must register online
Refer to the Tanaka Farms website for the day’s current times and dates of events.
88 Fair Dr., Costa Mesa
Centennial Farm is our favorite “pet and go” petting zoo in Orange County. Centennial Farm has FREE parking (during the week) and FREE admission. Located at the OC Fair & Event Center, the petting zoo and meet and greet experience is just the right combination at this boutique farm. It has all the animal variety to delight your family, and friends, without the big crowds. This petting zoo is not just for kids. Visitors here are all ages, and you will often see a couple on a charming date.
Sometimes just seeing nature and other animals besides your dog or cat can really take the stress away. There is something for everyone at centennial Farms. Come visit the grand peacocks and learn the difference between peahens and peafowl. There are baby piglets all year round and there is a reason for that; you will learn that here, too. Hoss and Howie are siblings, and they really do weigh over 1,000 pounds each. You can feed them or not, sometimes just admiring their stature is plenty. Chickens, goats, and bunnies fill the farm.
The feel at Centennial is calm, organized and very relaxing. You may see school tours of all ages laughing and squealing, which will make you smile and feel nostalgic. Centennial Farms highlights goats and there are plenty of breeds to choose a favorite. Even the bees here are a marvel to watch. You won’t need to battle crowds here. There isn’t the distraction of loud entertainment or buzzing rides (unless you go during OC Fair season). This is what makes Centennial Farms a “show and go” winner. Kitty the llama and her partner Mossy the guard dog, are always watching to make sure things stay in order at Centennial Farms.
Check out the pig cam for 24/7 cuteness.
Hours: Regular Hours are Monday – Friday from 1PM to 4PM, and 10AM – 4PM on weekends, but during the OC Fair, times and open dates vary. Refer to the website for exact hours and dates of operation.
Orange County Zoo
1 Irvine Park Road, Orange
Irvine Regional Park is huge and among all the things you can do here, did you know there was a small zoo inside as well? Sometimes overshadowed by the pony rides and big events, the OC Zoo is home to lions, tigers, and bears, oh my! Well, the brown bear here really is impressive, but the lions are mountain lions, and the tiger is a close cousin, the ocelot. They even have a jaguar now. The Orange County Zoo is a favorite because it features bigger and more exotic animals than the customary farm animals (but you won’t be petting them!).
It is a small but mighty zoo with a focus on Southwestern wildlife. If you are looking for a new experience, this zoo can add more excitement and wonderment to a traditional petting zoo day. There are also plenty of cool reptiles, impressive eagles, and fuzzy owls to interact with. The OC Zoo is a moderate-sized zoo with less walking and crowds. There is plenty of shade and rest areas here.
A great highlight are the preschool programs like Animal Art and Under the Sea. These require additional fees, but children can have an exciting time making a craft and visiting zoo creatures up close. Older kids can enjoy programs like Ancient Giants or the Critter construction for ages seven to eleven years old. The programs offer a hands-on learning approach and the opportunity to visit animals up close, too.
Check the website for special days like rattlesnake or bear awareness days that include fun crafts and special keeper chats about the animals. It is a super cool day to meet these animals and learn about safety. Care takers often delight visitors with spontaneous meet and greet opportunities showcasing curious owls or friendly reptiles. The OC Zoo is easy to navigate through, priced right and even has a goat filled petting zoo. If you are looking for a relaxing petting zoo adventure and still want to have time for the playground, then put OC Zoo at the top of your list.
Admission & Hours
Sun: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Mon – Fri: 10:00 AM – 3:30 PM
Sat: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Entry Fee for Irvine Regional Park: $3 per vehicle weekdays and $5 per vehicle weekends – Holidays $7
Entry to zoo is $2.00 per person, Children 2yrs and under are Free
Interactive Programs $5 per child (one parent included). Parent must accompany child for entire time
- Register for program workshops by phone
- Refer to website to see monthly program schedule for times and dates * There are age restrictions for each program/workshop
The Reptile Zoo
18818 Brookhurst St. Fountain Valley, CA
Here is the way cool petting zoo alternative! The Reptile Zoo in Costa Mesa is full of rad reptiles, amazing amphibians, and out-of-sight arachnids from around the world. The Reptile Zoo has over 100 exotic species in a little strip mall on busy Brookhurst Boulevard.
The inside décor is fun and resembles a tiki themed fish store. It has a small science museum vibe, but the fish tanks and glass displays are much more impressive. The tanks should be more impressive because what is behind the glass is something amazing to see. The big showstopper is DARTHgator the Alligator. Owner Jay Brewer and daughter Julia, manage the zoo and are regularly featured in social media videos with this naughty Gator. This place is just action and excitement all day long.
It’s a break from common furry friends and an out of the box alternative to a night at the movies. All ages can really enjoy visiting and learning all about reptiles. Everyone loves meeting Sunshine, the yellow Burmese Python and feeding the turtles in the turtle pond filled with geckos and frogs. The Reptile Zoo rivals any major zoo in Southern California because it has three times the number of reptiles. You do not have to be a lizard lover to enjoy the displays and presentations, but you will definitely leave knowing what amphibian really creeps you out, and that’s all the fun!
Admission & Hours
Open Every day: Sunday-Saturday 10AM-7PM
Admission to the regular store section is free, but entry to the special “zoo” section is an additional fee
Purchase at door or online. Parking is FREE.
Mobile Petting Zoos
Pacific Animal Productions
If your favorite local band is booked for your wedding day, no problem! The animal ambassadors at Pacific Animal Productions are experienced and ready to put on an unforgettable show at your reception. Surprisingly, this mobile zoo not only does birthday parties, and school assemblies, but is popping up increasingly at weddings across Orange County.
Pacific Animal Productions has been putting the show on the road for more than 30 years. This mobile zoo stands apart from most because of its unique array of exotic animals and dedication to conserving wildlife and endangered species. They are available for school assemblies, church festivals, any occasion meet and greets, and of course birthday parties for all ages. The website is easy to navigate and answers all your questions about booking your next mobile petting zoo.
The friendly animals are specifically trained to be around people and large groups. Guests can meet Fiona the fennec fox, smart owls like Tumbleweed the Great Horn Owl, Piper the wallaby, Paco the sloth, Hoover the tamandua, emperor scorpions, Lily Anne the monkey, and funny hedgehogs.
Pacific Animal Productions’ mission is to create a lifetime of passion for wildlife through personal connection. It is a definite hit for the birthday super safari helper, reunion members, or reception guests. The meet and greet packages are a terrific way to add more fun to any existing event. The trainers are truly knowledgeable, patient and really put on a great show with their animal ambassadors. Imagine the beautiful photos you can snap while in your perfect wedding gown or for that impressive family Christmas card. Do you think Lily Anne the monkey will give her best smile?
Mobile Zoo of Southern California
20975 Sky Ridge Ave., Desert Hot Springs
Owner Randi German really is the face and voice of Mobile Zoo of Southern California. He inspires animal lovers at every event and is proud to say Mobile Zoo has been making people happy since 1990. The Safari Leaders that arrive with the animals are professional, patient, and are impressively dressed in official safari guide uniform. Some leaders, wearing that iconic safari hat, will add to the excitement using a charming “Outback” accent.
The safari staff can handle any party size or event. Their professional set up includes tiki umbrellas for lots of shade, hand sanitation centers, and cozy 12×12 petting zoo pens that can accommodate 15 guests at a time. There are many zoo packages like the Barn Yard Bonanza Petting Zoo, Reptile Show, and pony/unicorn rides.
The Mobile Petting Zoo features about 17 different animals including a variety of farm animals. If you are looking for a mix of different animals try the one-hour Critter Show option that features an exotic mix of friends. The Mobile Zoo of Southern California offers traditional farm animals and rare critters like the albino bullfrog, cute sugar gliders, pink toe tarantulas, hissing cockroaches, mini donkey, giant Dutch bunnies, alpacas, Greek tortoise, Polish bantam and a genuine velveteen rabbit.
Animals for the event arrive clean, healthy, presentable, and ready to be loved. Owner Randi is constantly adding new and unique animals to his mobile zoo and encourages requests. If you’re looking for the wow factor, Mobile Zoo of Southern California can “supersize” any option to optimize your party or event. There is an experience for everyone, and every age, at Mobile Zoo of Southern California. Birthday petting zoos packages are easy to book, and the option add-ons are great. They love what they do at Mobile Zoo, and it all starts with their easy to navigate website and super cool photo gallery of animal friends to choose from.
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|Orange County Fair & Event Center||Irvine Regional Park|
|Family Attractions in Orange County||Children’s Museums in Orange County|
Cindy is an OC native fond of PCH road trips to places like Santa Rosa or Carmel. She’s a mother of three spending her free time baking apple pies, cooking green enchiladas, and listening to 80s music. She’s a beach girl at heart and Cancun is her go to paradise.