My daughter is turning 12 in May and of all the things she's done for her birthday, what she truly loved was when she was 7 and got to go to Deer Hill Ranch in Lafayette. It no longer exists but was a much, much smaller version of Slide Ranch. She wants to go with 3-4 friends and do the same kinds of things: tour the farm, collect chicken eggs, hold a chicken and/or baby chick, pet or milk a goat, card wool, etc. Very basic stuff. Slide Ranch doesn't really work for her late May birthday - the Spring Fling would be perfect but it's a month too early. Anyone aware of other locations that might offer this? Thanks! Laurie
I would recommend trying Tilden Park -- they are very kid-friendly, have farm animals, and lots to do. Monique
Deer Hill Ranch has new owners and is now called Sienna Ranch -- they still have parties. website: http://siennaranch.net/Parties_at_the_Ranch.html
Hidden Villa in Los Altos Hills. Just had my daughter's birthday party there in September, and all the kids LOVED it. It may be about the same distance or closer than Slide Ranch, and if you're planning well in advance you're in good shape. Slide Ranch apparently was started by former Hidden Villa staff. They've got a full working organic farm, you can do a farm tour, or you can participate in one of their other activities, and the kids all loved following the chickens around afterward and playing in the garden. You can also go on hikes.
If you do a farm tour, the kids can all go into the buildings with a guide, pet the animals, etc. But you should plan CAREFULLY. Farm tour cost $X for 1-15 people (counting adults AND children), and $XX for 16-30 people. I had a bit of a dilemma because I wasn't sure until the last moment who would bring siblings, or which parents would come, so I booked for 30 people and only ended up needing the booking for 15. It gets expensive that way, so you should specify who is invited on the tour and save major $$. Probably easier w/ 12-yr-olds, who arent' generally going to parties w/ siblings or parents. The farm tour is pretty cool. You could also go on one of the days that they have cow milking (also expensive) or cheesemaking, or plan way ahead and do a sleepover there (very hard to get spaces though).
You can also skip the farm tour and just go on the not- behind-the-scenes tour, which is fun but not quite as fun. Also, decide in advance if you want to book a picnic area. For a small group, you can just grab a picnic table that's not reserved, or hang out near the visitor center. Have fun! Janet
For the farm party, try Ardenwood in Fremont. It's run by East Bay Regional Park Services and they have a bunch of different scheduled activities you could build your party around; I know they definitely offer woolly fun and we got to pet the sweetest hen turkey last time we were there (she looked scary but was a total sweet darling), plus horses and goats. Ardenwood has some nice picnic spots, too.
There's also a mobile petting zoo called 'Tickle Me' - I've seen them at several fairs, festivals, and birthday parties. They're wonderful, and they bring the critters to you http://www.ponyparty.com/
The Little Farm in Tilden doesn't seem to have that many animals, so it's not my favorite attraction in the park. I think they've discontinued the Tilden pony rides. (Although the carousel is still going strong) Alana
Deer Hill Ranch is now Sienna Ranch and they still do birthday parties and also run some great classes and camps. They have all kinds of farm animals and I think they offer pretty much the same programs as Deer Hill did. Great place! www.siennaranch.net TC
Check Loma Vista Farm in Vallejo. They have a lot of animals and some excellent education programs. http://www.lomavistafarm.org/ Valerie