If you’re in the Ottawa area and you’re looking for an activity to do with your toddlers, Big Sky Ranch animal sanctuary is a great option. It’s a bit of a drive into the country (into Kemptville, Ontario), but it’s worth the effort. Animal sanctuaries are close-up encounters with wildlife that are either rescued or abandoned. Some are bought from auctions, rescued from factories, or turned in by farmers who can no longer care for the animal. Here are some great reasons to visit Big Sky Ranch:
- It’s open year round so no matter when you’re planning your visit to the nation’s capital, you can always make this a part of your adventure
- Admission is free (so if you’re travelling with a large family or friends this helps keep costs down) but a donation is strongly recommended to help keep the sanctuary running
- It’s a great outdoor activity. The sanctuary is basically like a large farm that’s free for your own exploration. Cats, dogs, roosters and other fowl roam freely which seems to thrill young children. Our two toddlers loved exploring barns with their new feline friends.
- You can purchase food for the animals, which the kids love. Although they used to encourage bringing fruit and vegetable scraps, a lot of the animals are on special diets so it’s best to stick to the food machines on site.
- There’s a clean swing set and picnic area, which are well maintained and newly constructed. It’s a great area to set up and enjoy a snack (although it’s beside the pigs so be prepared for that farm fresh stench).
- It’s a great teachable outing. A lot of families haven’t experienced animal sanctuaries and instead end up visiting zoos. All of the animals on this serene sanctuary are either rescues, they were abandoned or people simply needed to find a new home for them. Each creature has his/her own story. Some may look sick, injured or in pain, but they’re seen regularly by veterinarians and they are well cared for. If, at any point, you have questions or concerns about an animal, you can always pop into the main office and inquire. Sanctuaries are a great place to teach about empathy, animal rights and farm life.
- The location is beautiful. If you’re a city slicker family or from a suburban subdivision, the drive out to Big Sky Ranch (which is only 5-10 minutes off of the 416) is all country. Homes sit upon acres of quiet, treed lots. Horses roam in the fields. Gravel roads keep traffic to a minimum and so on. There’s a sort of peace in the stillness of it all.
Overall, whenever you’re visiting a large metropolitan area, it’s often fun to seek activities in the outskirts of the city. There are some hidden gems like this animal sanctuary in the Pelton, Ontario area. In other smaller towns, we’ve tracked down factory tours and quaint, unique shops etc.