New York State’s farmland.New York State’s picture perfect farmlands. Photo by Pinaki Chakraborty.

Families looking for fun, animal-themed day trips and overnight outings can  find them in Orange County New York state, located only an hour from New York City.

 “Kids get to make a real life connection to nature while enjoying Orange County’s woods, trees and fields,” said Susan Hawvermale, Orange County’s Tourism Director. “Bears, owls, eagles, cows, horses, llamas and salamanders are just some of the storybook animals children can meet at our farms, museums, parks and trailside zoos.”

The Bear Mountain Trailside Museums & Zoo, located on a portion of the Appalachian Trail,is the home to animals native to New York State. All of the animals are either permanently injured or orphaned and not able to survive in the wild. Their zoo presence offers visitors the chance to see these creatures up close and learn about the importance of conserving their natural habitat. Included are a wide range of native mammals and birds, as well as a variety of reptiles, amphibians and fish.

Visitors can also ride the animal-themed carousel at Bear Mountain State Park, only a short walk from the zoo. Located in an Adirondack-style pavilion, the carousel features specially carved animals, selected because they are indigenous to the area. www.palisadesparksconservancy.org, 845-786-2701.

The Hudson Highlands Nature Museum’s Wildlife Education Center in Cornwall offers an indoor mini-zoo where a great horned owl, screech owls, mice, turtles, snakes, frogs and salamanders reside. The education center features interactive displays designed to keep young children busy. Demonstrations by museum educators introduce children to a new animal every weekend. The nature center is open Friday through Sunday from noon to 4 p.m., and currently features the special exhibit called “Marvelous Moths.” www.hhnaturemuseum.org, 845-534-7781.

Bellvale Farms in Warwick offers families the opportunity to learn howmilking a cow is handled. Tours, which include visiting the young calves, are offered by reservation at 12:30 p.m. on Sundays through October.  Visitors often end the tour with a visit to the Bellvale Farm Creamery, just up the hill from the farm, for homemade ice cream and a view of the Warwick Valley. www.bellvalefarms.com, 845-988-1818.

Families can pick berries or vegetables and visit barnyard animals at Lawrence Farms in Newburgh.www.lawrencefarmsorchards.com, 845-562-4268.  Ochs Orchards in Warwick also offers visitors the same opportunities.  www.ochsorchard.net, 845-986-1591.

 Barnyard animals are at the petting zoo at Pennings Farm Market Orchard Pub & Grill in Warwick, where the lunch menu features selections based on what’s grown on the farm.  www.penningsfarmmarket.com, 845-986-1059.

The Orange County Farmers Museum in Montgomery offers a hen house visit and weekend tractor pull events.  www.ocfarmersmuseum.com, 845-457-2959.

Museum Village in Monroe also offers animal visits at its barn. www.museumvillage.org, 845-782-8247.

During apple picking season, Newburgh’s Overlook Farm Market’s resident pig Sunny will greet visitors. www.overlookfarmmarket.com, 845-562-5780.

At Warwick’s Apple Ridge Orchards, Drummer the dog will be ready to meet children.  www.appleridgeorchards.com.  845-987-7717.

For something more exotic, visit the alpacas at Rock Ridge Alpacas in Chester. www.rockridgealpacas.com, 845-469-6196. Shalimar Alpacas in Warwick also welcomes visitors to see its herd. www.shalimaralpacas.com,845-258-0851.  Theseanimals contribute the fiber woven into the goods found at the gift stores.

“There’s a whole menagerie here in Orange County,” Hawvermale added. “Come have a conversation with the many animals living in our area. The kids will have a blast.”

Be sure to visit Orange County Tourism’s Facebook page: Orange County Tourism NY. It’s a fabulous guide to up-to-the minute postings of area events and activities, great times, memorable experiences available to visitors.

Also visit Orange County Tourism’s new website: www.orangetourism.org.

About Orange County Tourism

Orange County Tourism, based in Goshen, N.Y., is the county’s tourism headquarters and a participant in the I LOVE NY program. A comprehensive listing of area attractions, lodging, and events can be found at www.OrangeTourism.org. For a free copy of the Orange County Travel Guide, e-mail tourism@orangecountygov.com or call 800-762-8687.