Sweet Frilly the cow lives at Sammamish Animal Sanctuary. Credit: Devon Hammer
It’s silly the thrill I get from discovering a free outing that I enjoy just as much as the kids do. When it’s also outdoors on a nice day and helps animals — I am downright giddy. On a recent day, my crew and I found that a visit to Sammamish Animal Sanctuary hit all the marks for a delightful family outing.
Let me start off by saying Sammamish Animal Sanctuary is not actually in Sammamish. When planning our outing with family, this was a point of confusion on numerous occasions, making it somewhat comical. The sanctuary moved from Sammamish to a new Renton location last summer but opted to keep the name. We sorted it out, booked our time slot and made our way to the farm on a partly sunny spring day.
Support the animals
Upon arriving we were greeted by a friendly volunteer who gave us the rundown on our visit. This is technically a free outing, but donations are encouraged (if you are able) and go to a great cause: supporting the care of all the adorable animals you are about to meet.
At the entrance there are cute little buckets of fruits and veggies that you can feed to the animals — buckets require a $5 donation. We picked up a bucket for each of the kids — my 8-year-old son, my 18-month-old niece and my 7-month-old baby — and headed out to meet our new animal friends.
Compared to the original location, the new location is quite a bit larger and has a better layout. We entered through a cute, nicely kept barn and got to peek at a brand new baby goat with its mama — an adorable way to start our visit.
Then we made our way to the bunny and chicken pens. Each pen has a sign on it that tells you whether or not you can go inside it and whether or not you can feed those particular animals the fruit and veggie treats from your bucket. Although our group decided not to enter any of the pens, because of the very little ones with us, we saw other people doing it, and it looked like fun if your kids are old enough.
More animals and a play stop
We then moved on to the duck pen, horse pastures, pig pens, goat pens, the cow pens and a large pasture with a whole gaggle of friendly livestock, from donkeys to sheep.
There is also a cute little play area, with a huge tire to climb on, little play houses to explore and a playset complete with a slide — a perfect mid-visit snack-and-play spot.
The grounds are well designed so that everything is central, making it very walkable for my little niece. We also found a centrally located bench to be an adorable photo op spot, complete with photo-bombing donkeys and goats. I am not sure if this was the idea but it made for some great shots.
Pigs and cows, our favorites
The highlight of our visit was the animals, of course. It was so fun to see my little niece light up when the animals gobbled up the treats she fed them. My baby excitedly kicked his legs with every new animal we saw. We were particularly taken with the pigs who waddled over when we called their names.
Each pen displays the animals’ names and a bit about their history. We also fell in love with Frilly, the Scottish Highland cow. She loved getting scratches with the rake-like brushes available, and my son loved giving them to her.
Her neighbor, Amelia, the mostly blind cow, was also a sweetheart and enjoyed some scratches. Amelia sports a prosthetic on her leg to help her stand and walk. She received it while filming an episode of a TV show about animal rehabilitation. (More on that below).
The cherry on top was our departure gift. Each kiddo got to pick out a trading card featuring an animal from the farm and take it home as a keepsake. We thoroughly enjoyed going through the cards, and we even got to take one home to Little Sister who couldn’t make it.
Heart for the animals
You can tell this place was designed with families in mind, but more-importantly, you can tell the sanctuary puts the animals’ well-being first. The animals appear well taken care of and well loved.
During our visit, there were volunteers everywhere, shoveling dirt, building things and brushing the animals — so many great people dedicating their time to these special animals. It was an outing we all enjoyed, and we left with very full hearts. We will definitely be back. The little sister that missed out will make sure of it!
If you go...
Hours: The sanctuary is open Tuesday–Sunday, and reservations are required. Available time slots generally begin at 9:30 a.m., 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m., and last two hours. You can arrive and leave any time within your two-hour time slot.
Cost: Visiting is free, but donations are accepted and appreciated! You can donate online or when you arrive using a QR code.
Facilities: There is an outhouse onsite.
Parking: There is a large main lot for parking and an additional side lot. (You’ll see the side lot first but if you go a little farther, the main lot is closer to the entrance and a lot larger).
Reminder: You may want to remind rambunctious kids that the animal residents at the sanctuary need a peaceful environment so it’s not the place to run, shout, scream or make loud noises. Do not chase the animals or force engagement if the animals don’t feel like meeting you.
Good to know: There are benches by the front entrance that would be perfect for a snack break.
More animal outings: