Petting Zoos and City Farms in London

The Best Farms in London & Petting Zoos for great days out with the kids

Here’s our personal experience from visiting 16 City Farms and Petting Zoos in London with our animal-loving kids! Whether you’re looking for petting areas, donkey rides, collecting duck eggs or feeding lamb you can read all about it in our reviews. Hopefully, these reviews will inspire you to get your wellies on and discover some of London’s amazing urban farms. Here’s a complete guide to all of London’s 16 farms!

Petting Zoo Mudchute Farm
The kids getting close to the animals: Petting the sheep at Mudchute Farm

Petting Zoos in London

All of the city farms on our list are safe for kids, and many of them have purpose-built petting areas for children to be able to get close and stroke the animals. Note that you often have to book sessions in advance, if you’re looking for petting sessions with small animals like rabbits and guinea pigs.

kids petting rabbit at a farm
Surrey Docks Farm in Rotherhithe: Petting rabbits during the annual spring fair

You’ll find updated information about this on the farms’ webpages and on informational signs on the farms. Having free access to community farms and getting close to animals is such a benefit for kids living in Central London miles away from the countryside.

Petting Zoo in London
Community farms in London were originally created to provide inner-city Londoners with access to countryside experiences. As such, these farms are better described as community farms rather than commercial petting zoos.

Farms for children

City Farms are often called Petting Zoos or Petting Farms, but it’s important to remember that these urban farms are much more than places for kids to stroke animals. Their function as community farms, make them important in the local areas and provide sanctuaries where everyone can enjoy a piece of the countryside in the middle of the city.

Children petting a guinea pig at a city farm
Check for farm activities for children when planning a visit to a community farm in London.

Also note that community farms should not to be confused with commercial zoos or farms, where petting sessions might be included in the ticket price. Community farms are free to enter, but they often organise special sessions for children or events where you can get close to the animals for a small fee.

Types of farms in London

London’s 16 farms can be divided into three categories:

1. Community Farms (free entry)

Farms are mainly run by locals registered as charities with free admission while dependent on support from volunteers, funding from the borough and private donations.

2. College Farms (free entry)

Capel Manor College is a college providing courses in farming and animal care leading to nationally recognised qualifications. Farms under management double down as student training grounds while remaining admission free for the public. 

3. Private Petting Farms (charged entry)

These are commercially run petting farms, usually charging £6.50-£10 per adult. The ticket price often includes activities that you would otherwise need to book and pay for separately on community farms. 

What’s your favourite farm?

Let us know in the comments below the article.

farms for children

1. Community Farms in London

Mudchute Farm

Tower Hamlets, East London

London’s biggest and a favourite farm for kids

  • Spacious community farm with happy animals
  • Separate petting area with small furry animals like guinea pigs and rabbits, great for young kids
  • Lots of organised activities for the local community
  • Limited healthy alternatives on the Cafe menu
  • No dedicated parking
Boy watching a pig on Mudchute Farm
Mudchute City Farm on the Isle of Dogs is a local favourite farm for kids with lots of activities

Mudchute is one of our absolute favourite places for kids in London, with a dedicated area where it’s easy for young kids to get close to small animals like rabbits and guinea pigs. The animals have lots of space which is important for their welfare and this place feels more like a realistic version of a countryside farm than many of the smaller urban farms. Kids can also enjoy an extensive list of activities like riding lessons, forest school as well an after school club. This is a farm that is making a real difference for local children.

Read more about all the different animals at Mudchute.


Vauxhall City Farm

Lambeth, South West London

Small but very friendly local community farm

  • Charming cafe, popular with local families in the weekend
  • Easy to reach just next to Vauxhall tube station For it’s size the number of activities are really impressive
  • The range of animals is limited, it’s really quick to go through the farm
  • The small space can make it really crowded during weekends and school holidays
Goat on Vauxhall farm
Check out the friendly Vauxhall City Farm

Vauxhall farm covers less than an acre of land, but what it lacks in size is compensated by friendliness. Entry to Vauxhall Farm is free but donations help towards the running costs of this charming little farm. You can also contribute to the farm’s economy by purchasing animal feed and have a meal in the cosy cafe. There’s also a petting area perfect for young kids where they can hold small and furry animals (rabbits, guinea pigs, chicks, lambs) which costs £2 per child for 10 minutes. When available you can buy fresh hen/duck eggs – £2 for 6.

Read our in-depth review of Vauxhall Farm review


Surrey Docks Farm

Southwark, South East London

Charming location on the Thames Path

  • Located on the Thames Path with views of Canary Wharf on the other side of the river
  • Recently refurbished with several new buildings facing the Thames
  • Safe and accessible for children to pet the animals explore the different pens around the farm
  • A riverside Cafe has opened, one of the few places to get a coffee in the area
  • Animal feed available from the farm shop
  • Several events through the year like the Spring Fair
Boy feeding and petting sheep
Our 2-year old loves to pet and feed the sheep at Surrey Docks Farm

Surrey Docks Farm is a local community farm in Rotherhithe. The location is stunning with views of the Thames and Canary Wharf on the other side of the river. You’ll find all the usual animals from goats and sheep to cows and small furry friends like guinea pigs and rabbits. Petting sessions are often organised during special events. The farm is tidy and there are several washing stations available. Note that the it is quite far from the nearest tube / overground station (Canada Water/Surrey Quays).

Read more about Surrey Docks Farm


Hackney City Farm

Tower Hamlets, East London

Perfect for a Sunday Mooch

  • Great food and atmosphere in the on-site Frizzante cafe
  • Relaxed vibe with animals roaming around freely
  • Excellent pitstop as part of exploring East London
  • A bit chaotic in terms of layout :-)
  • No organised feeding
Hackney City Farm
Hackney Farm is a fun and relaxed farm for kids with chickens roaming around freely

Hackney Farm is a family-friendly spot in East London. All the facilities might not be in tip-top shape, but we still think it’s a great farm to visit. Chickens and ducks are roaming around in the central yard, which is great fun for the kids, and we love the laid back vibe during weekends. The popular Frizzante cafe serves delicious rustic dishes based on homegrown produce. Combine a visit to the farm with some of the many other attractions in East London and you’ll have a lovely day out.

See more photos from Hackney Farm


Spitalfields Farm

Tower Hamlets, East London

A slice of the countryside next to Brick Lane

  • A dedicated playground makes this a great place for kids
  • Lots of space for the animals and they seem well looked after
  • Clean and well-run rural spot in the city
  • Parking is really difficult
  • Signs could be more informative

Watching donkeys at Spitalfields Farm
A nice day out at Spitalfields City Farm

Spitalfields farm is not very big, but the available space has been well used. There’s a lot to explore for kids including a playground and everything is well organised and tidy. The cafe sells basic but delicious fresh dishes, and there is seating available if you bring your food. The animals are well looked after, and the staff are friendly and helpful.

Read our detailed review of Spitalfields Farm


Deen City Farm

Merton, South West London

Lots of activities and a great farm for kids

  • All of the important farm animals popular with kids
  • Regular meet & greet animal sessions Riding school (both horses & ponies)
  • Confusing website in terms of pricing and options for activities
  • Basic options on the menu in the farm cafe
Riding a pony at Deen City Farm
A farm for kids: Pony and horse riding on Deen City Farm

Deen might be small but it certainly packs a punch! The farm is well kept with a good range of animals including ducks, geese, chickens, turkeys to rabbits, sheep, goats, cows, pigs, and even an owl, an alpaca and a ferret! Feed bags are available for 50p and it’s great fun to feed the sheep and goats, highly recommended. There are pony rides twice weekly and the chance to see the owl fly in the afternoons.

There are plenty of activities going on, but we wish the website would clearer making it easier for parents to plan their day. The cafe serves basic standard dishes like jacket potatoes and sandwiches. It would be really nice to see some more warm dishes and more locally produced organic food being offered. On the positive side, plenty of happy animals and activities for kids to engage in farm life. On the negative side, information around activities could be a lot better and the cafe has a lot of potential for improvement.

Read our full review of Deen


Stepney Farm

Tower Hamlets, East London

Have a bite at Humble Bee cafe

  • You’ll get to know all the popular animals
  • Saturday market with local produce sold directly from farmers
  • Tasty food at the popular Humble Bee cafe
  • Pottery classes

Stepney City Farm
The cat is the boss at Stepney City Farm!

Stepney Farm is located in the middle of London’s East End and is featuring a wide range of animals and community activities. The Humble Bee cafe has been a big hit with the locals after it opened, serving hearty food in an informal environment.

The other big hit with the locals is the Saturday farmers market selling fresh organic vegetables, high-quality meat, sausages, cheeses, pickles, hams, coffees and sometimes hot food! Feeding the animals is always a fun activity for the kids, and feed bags are available from the shop for £1 per bag. When it comes to animals, you have all the essential ones but you’ll be done pretty quickly.

See more photos in our review of Stepney Farm


Newham City Farm

Newham, East London

Lots of space for farm animals at Newham

  • Lots of space for both animals and kids to run around
  • Good range of different animals
  • Indoor play area for rainy days
  • Feeding animals not possible
  • Signs could be more informative
Enjoying Newham City Farm in London
There’s lots of space for kids to run around Newham City Farm!

Newham is an authentic community farm in East London just next to London City Airport. It’s much larger than the average inner-city farm, and parents can safely let kids explore. The farm is right next to King George V’s park so you can combine a visit with a picnic. Newham is organising a lot of activities for children, so it makes sense to check their website in advance of the visit. We really like the indoor play that can be used to extend your visit or as a backup on a rainy day. Parking is also free, which is a great plus compared to many of the other London farms.

Read our review of Newham Farm


Freighliners Farm

Islington, North London

Small but excellent for young kids

  • Easy to get close to the small furry animals
  • Brilliant cafe serving delicious rustic food
  • Playground nearby if/when kids lose patience
  • Small with less animals as on other London farms
  • Can get crowded during weekends and school holidays

Freightliners is small but you still get the full farmyard feeling when seeing the lovely animals. A tour of the farm typically takes around 30 minutes. For local kids used to city life, it’s a nice way to experience a piece of the countryside without having to travel far. It’s also a great place for parents if lucky enough to get a seat in the popular Strawbale Café. Here you can eat delicious healthy vegetarian dishes as well as homemade cakes at reasonable prices.

Read more about our visit to Freightliners Farm


Kentish Town City Farm

Camden, North London

The original community farm in the UK

  • The first community farm in the UK established in 1972
  • Loved by the local community
  • All the most popular animals
  • Small, kids run through it very quickly
  • Some of the buildings in need of an upgrade
Kentish Town City Farm
There is always something going on at Kentish Town City Farm!

Kentish Town is not the biggest of farms, but it serves it’s purpose well in terms of giving kids a quick introduction to rural life. The farm kicked off a wave of new London farms being established after it was founded in 1972, and it’s great to see the community spirit still going strong. The range of animals and the facilities are not among the best, but this is nevertheless a charming farm to visit. Combined with a visit to the nearby Hampstead Heath playground and Parliament Hill, you’re in for a great day out with your kids.

Read our more detailed review of Kentish Town City Farm


2. Capel Manor College Farms

Brooks City Farm

Leyton, East London

Student training ground

  • Animal Feeding
  • Lots of handwashing stations
  • Friendly and knowledgable staff
  • Cafe closed during winter
  • Try to take part in the scheduled activities
Sheep at Brooks City Farm
Kids can get close to the animals at Brooks Farm

Brooks is a small charming farm in a residential area in East London. The staff is really friendly, and you can feed the alpacas and the goats. Our kids really enjoyed the chickens walking around freely, as well as the farm cat. This is a nice place to visit if you are in the neighbourhood, especially with younger kids. There is also a large playground right next to the farm, so you can make the fun last longer.

Read more about Brooks City Farm


Forty Hall Farm

Enfield, North London

Enjoy local organic produce

  • Locally produced organic fruit & vegs for sale
  • Forty Hall Vineyard Vegetable bag scheme
  • Not many activities for children
Forty Hall Farm

Forty Hall Farm is well known for its focus on organic food production. The farm covers eight acres of land dedicated to organic salad and vegetable production which can be bought in the farm shop or through a vegetable bag scheme. Additionally, they are home to London’s only organic commercial vineyard.

Some of the products can be a bit pricy, but there is also an orchard where local people helping out can get a share of the harvest. When it comes to the animals it would be nice to see some more interactive activities for kids to get closer to the small animals, feeding them and petting them. In essence, great for families into organic and healthy locally produced fruit and veg, but not so exciting for younger kids.

Read more about Forty Hall Farm


Crystal Palace Farm

Crystal Palace, South East London

Meet the meerkats!

  • Popular farm for kids with meerkats
  • Nice location close to other family activities
  • Basic facilities
  • No clear schedule of when the animal sessions are taking place
  • More focused on students and schools than individual visitors
goat at crystal palace farm
We enjoyed our visit to Crystal Palace Farm

Crystal Palace Farm is located within Crystal Palace Park featuring a range of animals. Students working on the farm are friendly and helpful, but there is no clear schedule in terms of when the animal sessions are taking place. Our assumption is that the farm is more geared towards school visits and training for students of Capel Manor College, rather than individual visits.

This is fair enough, but it might be good to make that a bit more clear on the website and at the entrance to the farm. In any case, kids will enjoy it for a little while (especially the meercats) so we suggest popping in if in the area. The facilities are mostly in a good state; all concrete, so not the cosiest farm we’ve been to.

Read our review of Crystal Palace Farm


3. Private Petting Farms

Hounslow Urban Farm (Temporarily Closed)

Hounslow, West London

Hounslow is a great farm for kids

  • Daily scheduled activities
  • Owl flying display
  • Petting sessions
  • Informative and educational
  • Expensive if not taking part in activities
  • Facilities could be cleaner and tidier
Hounslow Farm Alpaca
Hounslow is a favourite farm for kids in London

Hounslow has all the farm animals your kids could wish for and the interaction with them is superb. You need to pay an entrance fee (as opposed to the community farms), but on the other side, you get the benefit of a fixed schedule of activities throughout the day.

For kids, it’s all about getting close to the animals touching them and this is something the staff at Hounslow has understood. To get the maximum value from your ticket, make sure to check the website and plan in advance to take full advantage of their animal encounters and meet & greet sessions. Even if the soft play area is not very big, it’s a great addition extending the visit making it a proper day and not just a quick visit to see some animals.

Read our full review of Hounslow Urban Farm


Lee Valley Park Farms

Waltham Abbey, North London

Experience a real working farm

  • Meet the animal show
  • Buy fresh milk locally produced
  • Falconry Day Cafe
  • No connection to public transportation

Lee Valley in North East London is not free to enter, but you get to experience a real working farm and take part in several scheduled daily activities. To get the most value out of the ticket, make sure to check their webpage to plan your day according to the different events. In addition to excellent animal experiences, there are several play areas to keep the kids busy. Plan your day around the scheduled activities and a visit is good value for money.

Too bad that the cafe didn’t live up to expectations – being on a farm we would expect more emphasis on locally produced, healthy organic food and reusable cutlery and glasses. On the other side, we liked the fact that you can buy fresh milk from their cows. On the topic of being environmentally friendly, we were also quite disappointed that it’s so difficult to reach by public transportation. Especially if you are travelling with young kids and prams, it can be an inconvenient journey to get there by train or bus.

Read our full review of Lee Vally Park Farms


Belmont Children’s Farm

Barnet, North London

Beautiful setting in the countryside

  • Opportunities for hands-on experience with animals through scheduled petting sessions
  • Plenty of space for the animals
  • Ongoing construction work
  • Steep entry price compared to the overall experience
  • Confusing website, hard to plan the day in advance
Belmont Farm

Belmont is promoting a range of different meet & greet sessions including meeting with cows, sheep, ponies, the owl and smaller animals. What is missing is a clear schedule for when they are taking place, so that parents can plan their day in advance. Instead, they have placed a disclaimer on the website saying visitors should “check the times at reception for daily changes to avoid disappointment”.

Scheduling a few daily activities at fixed times shouldn’t be very difficult – after all running a farm is all about routines. With no clear schedule visiting the farm is a bit of a gamble; if you miss out on the activities it feels far to steep to pay £20 for a family ticket just taking a quick round watching the animals. Paying £1.60 for a feed bag and £2.50 for a quick tractor ride also seems excessive and should be included in the ticket price. A reduced ticket price and/or including the feed and tractor ride would go a long way to help the situation (while the issues are sorted out).

Read our detailed review of Belmont Children’s Farm


London Petting Zoo
London’s farms are great for children to visit: Feeding the lamb at Surrey Docks Farm in South East London

FAQ Farms for Children in London

Are city-farms and petting zoos in London free?

Out of 16 city farms in London, 13 are free and 3 are charging an entrance fee.

Farms that are free to enter: Mudchute, Vauxhall, Surrey Docks, Hackney, Spitalfields, Deen, Stepney, Newham, Freightliners, Brooks, Kentish, Forty Hall and Crystal Palace farm. Suggested donation per visit ~£3.

Farms charging entrance fee: Hounslow, Lee Valley and Belmont Children’s Farm.

Which is the largest city farm in London?

Mudchute, located on the Isle of Dogs in East London is the largestwith 32 acres.

Which is the smallest city farm in London?

The smallest is Vauxhall City Farm covering less than an acre.

Which is the oldest city farm in London?

Kentish Town City Farm is the oldest in London established in 1972

How many farms are there in London?

There are 16, plus a few petting zoos

How many community farms are there in London?

There are 10 in London. Largely run by volunteers and dependent on private donations they are supported by their local council.

What type of animals can I find on London’s animal farms?

You can find all kinds of animals like cows, sheep, chickens, goats, donkeys and pigs.

Are London’s farms safe for kids?

All of them are safe for kids, but toddlers and young children must be supervised by their parents at all times.

Which farms in London are best for kids?

If your children are into animals they are likely to enjoy all of London’s farms but try to look for special events and activities for children such as lamb feeding, collecting eggs and donkey rides. Our local favourite farms for kids include Mudchute and Surrey Docks Farm.

Are there Petting Zoos in London?

Yes, you’ll find several Petting Zoos in London from traditional zoos where you pay an entry price to community farms where you can often book animal petting sessions in advance.

What’s your favourite London farm?

We’d love to hear your thoughts about London’s city farms and if you have any tips.

8 comments

Peter February 22, 2021 - 10:38 am

Our kids just love farm https://londonducklings.co.uk/city-farms/! We usually go to our nearest farm Mudchute but we will definitely check out some more farms across the city. Thanks a lot for putting this together!

Reply
LondonDucklings February 22, 2021 - 11:13 am

Mudchute is one of our favourites as well 😊

Reply
Steve February 25, 2021 - 3:59 pm

Good news that city-farms will be allowed to open, but let’s see if they have the resources to comply with all the distancing rules… if they’re financially on their knees, it’s not going to be easy for them to invest in booking systems and other facilities needed…

Reply
LondonDucklings February 25, 2021 - 5:34 pm

Very true! They’ll need all the support they can get.

Reply
Jane February 28, 2021 - 7:32 am

Knowing my daughter loves farm-https://londonducklings.co.uk/city-farms/, I thought I’d give Mudchute a gander! We took the foot-tunnel under the Thames from Greenwich, and has a brilliant visit to the farm. Much recommended! ☺

Reply
LondonDucklings February 28, 2021 - 9:22 am

Sounds like you guys had a great day, thanks a lot for sharing!

Reply
Johanna June 11, 2021 - 1:11 pm

Love that many of the petting zoos have reopened after the lockdown! My kids get so excited when they are able to get close to the https://londonducklings.co.uk/city-farms/.

Reply
Mia June 11, 2021 - 1:12 pm

Wonder if Surrey Docks farms started with petting sessions again after the lockdown? Can’t wait for my next trip to the petting farm!

Reply

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