Monday, February 23, 2015

Highlights of the Leesburg Animal Park (Virginia)

With spring (hopefully!) right around the corner, you might be starting to think of places to take the kids on weekends or on spring break. If you're looking for a good time with the kids in Northern Virginia, Leesburg Animal Park is a nice spot to spend a few hours or the day. The park is located off a quiet highway in Loudoun County, Va., but is one of those places you're happy to find when you come across it.

The Leesburg Animal Park isn't overly large, but it does offer lots of stuff for the kids to see and do. Because of the high interactive component, it is more impressive than some of the other animal parks you might see. Children are allowed to feed and pet most of the animals, although there are a few exceptions.

Here are some highlights of the Leesburg Animal Park:

Meet the Animals

This animal park is pretty hands on and visitors get a good chance to get up close and personal with the animals. There are two primary areas where animals who can be fed reside. One is located just inside the entrance gate and is comprised of wooden pens that the smaller animals wander in and out of, and the larger animals can poke their heads out.

Even the teens love to feed the animals!

The other area is just a bit further down (very close and stroller friendly) and is constructed as a large fenced in area. In this section the animals wander completely free. Visitors are welcome to go inside and have a true close encounter with many animals.

For the most part, the animals are extremely friendly, but some are aggressive as they nudge you for food, perhaps just being overly friendly. If you are visiting with a little one who knocks over easily or is intimidated by animals, you may want to hold them when visiting this section of the park. Although, there are the less intimidating smaller animals in there too, such as baby goats which are typically a hit with the little ones.

Exotic and Domestic Animals

There are also other animals which the kids cannot get up close and personal, but they can see other animals they likely don't get to see that often. Over the years we've seen lemurs, peacocks, macaws, and the amazingly large Aldabra tortoises. The gibbons are extremely playful and are a hoot to watch. Last time we visited, there was even a porcupine! 


There are several other neat things for the kids to do at Leesburg Animal Park. For instance there is a playground and moon bounce. There are no weight limits, so the older children, even the teens, are allowed in to get loose and jump around. Another fun activity is the tractor ride. A staff member pulls the group in a wooden wagon with a farm tractor. The ride is about 10 minutes to the back of the park. The wagon offers plenty of space and feels more like a real tractor ride than some other places we've been, complete with bumps and all.

Around the back are zebras where the kids can catch a look. After the zebras the driver makes a stop at the pond around back. As soon as the fish hear the motor they come in swarms followed by the ducks and geese. It is pretty amazing to see the fish jump all over one another as they anticipate being fed. The driver gives every rider some food to feed the ducks, geese and fish. The kids are bound to get a kick at of this aspect of the park. 

Watching the fish eagerly get the food
All of the above activities are included with the admission price.

Pony Rides

For an additional fee, smaller children (not sure of the weight limits on this, but pretty sure there is one) can have the opportunity to ride a pony. This section is located right near the animal pens and in very close proximity to all the activities.

There is a small gift shop on premises where you can buy light snacks. Picnics are welcomed on the premises and there are plenty of tables spread throughout the park to sit and enjoy your lunch. There's also a playground and plenty of open space for the kids to run about if they need to let off some steam.

To learn more about pricing and hours of operation, check out the Leesburg Animal Park website for current information. If you're in the Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia or Southern Maryland area and are looking for something a little bit off the beaten path, this destination might be just the place you're looking for to take the kids.

As an aside, Leesburg Animal Park a hop, skip and a jump from Oatlands. Oatlands is less kid-friendly, however, there are open grounds and pretty gardens to see. We've taken kids there.

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