Minutes from downtown Issaquah, in the shadow of Squak Mountain, you’ll find Fox Hollow Family Farm, home to lush gardens, stunning scenery, more than 100 farm animals, a full equestrian center and dozens of fun activities for kids.
Owned by the Ridnell family, Fox Hollow is set along Issaquah Creek, with a beautiful, 1920s Georgian-style farmhouse overlooking the property. Families typically visit Fox Hollow Farm for its "Farm Days," open days at the farm where you pay one price for access to any activity the farm has to offer. Kids can pet (and feed!) pigs, sheep, goats and bunnies; ride ponies; take a spin on one of the mini motorized John Deere vehicles, or bounce away in giant inflatables that flank one side of the farm.
They can also “play house” in the new mini cottages area (a pint-sized village with two-story cottages complete with play food, kitchens and rustic furniture), swing on the rope swing in the hay loft, take a train ride around the grounds or visit the Fox Hollow Nursery.
My son and I visited the farm a few weeks ago and I loved it just as much as he did. We stopped by the pig pen first (what 3-year-old boy could pass that up?), and were invited to feed the new litter of piglets frozen peas. My son had a blast doing this, quickly falling in love with the runt, and we honestly could have spent an entire hour with the pigs.
Next were the sheep, goats and miniature horses. After making friends with all — yes, all — of the animals, we headed over to the mini tractors, where kiddos were having a blast driving their vehicles around the large circular drive in front of the house. The train scooted by in the distance, and we caught a glimpse of a girl enjoying a hand-led pony ride through the grounds.
As farm fun works up an appetite, we headed to the gazebo to unpack our lunch. Families are welcome to bring their own lunch, and there are plenty of picnic tables (with or without shade) for picnic pit stops. Or stop by the adorable Petunia Picklebottom's Sweet Shoppe where you’ll find sandwiches, fresh fruit, yogurt, granola bars and refreshments; even fresh popped popcorn, cotton candy, Hawaiian shave ice, and all of the makings for s'mores (roast them in the nearby fire pit)!
But it’s not all just tractor rides and sweets. Fox Hollow Farm is a farm with a mission: to create a safe haven for abandoned or neglected animals, as well as to provide families with a positive experience with nature. With that in mind, the farm offers discounts to schools, churches and mothers' groups, and holds annual toy food collecting events. It also provides an equestrian program for disabled and mentally handicapped children, and offers volunteer opportunites (see below).
“Our goal is to be every family’s choice for a fun day in the great Pacific Northwest outdoors and to create memorable traditions,” says owner Autumn Ridnell.
The farm offers year-round, seasonal events and festivals, such as the the annual Fall Festival, where families are welcome to sip cider around the bonfire and pick out a pumpkin. Later, celebrate Christmas with a carriage ride, Santa meet-up, gingerbread houses and a tree from the family tree lot. Around Easter, the farm holds sell-out Easter egg hunts.
The location also offers access to a number of hiking trails that connect to the Squak Mountain Park Trail System.
If you go . . .
Farm Days Hours: The farm is open through Nov. 17 on Wednesdays and Fridays 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; and Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Pricing: The pricing for Farm Days is now a flat fee of $10 per person, ages 1-100; kiddos under 12 months are free
Other activities: Also offered at Fox Hollow: summer camps, riding lessons, birthday parties and more.
Upcoming events: Fox Hollow holds its fall festival on select dates in October (check website) from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. The Halloween Carnival is held Oct. 25-27, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and includes everything that the Fall Festival offers plus trick-or-treating, costume party, and games (with prizes).
Good to know: Bathrooms are located in the equestrian barn, located conveniently on the grounds. The farm has expanded its parking, but on hot summer days or during special events it fills up, so it’s best to arrive early. If possible, pack little ones in carriers; strollers are welcome, but some of the paths are gravelly, making for not-so-smooth stroller maneuvering. Also, bring cash or checks. They do have a credit card machine, but cash or checks are preferred.
Volunteering: Volunteer opportunities include holding and loving animals, grooming, cleaning stalls and animal areas, interacting with families who visit the farm, and gardening. Open hours of volunteering are Monday to Sunday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up. (Nice perk: Anyone who volunteers more than 6 hours per week will receive a free monthly family pass to all Farm Days.)
Photo credits: The first and last photos in the article are courtesy of Fox Hollow Family Farm. Other photos by Allison Holm.
About the author: A born-and-raised Seattle girl, Allison Holm spent her “early years” satisfying her wanderlust and now lives in Kirkland with her husband, 3-year-old son and (most would say) too many pets. A freelance writer, serious coffee lover (who isn’t?) and jogging stroller enthusiast, Allison loves to get out and explore her city, especially through the eyes of her child. Find more of her stories on her blog, Seattle Travel Mom. She took some of the photos for this article.