Located in Petaluma about an hour from Oakland, American Made Miniatures Farm Sanctuary is a special experience your kids will remember and beg to revisit for years to come. I visited with six kids: an infant, one-year old, two three-year olds, a six-year old, and a seven-year old. They all had a blast, and the farm felt safe and easy to maneuver for a range of interests and abilities. We enjoyed the farm tour and four of the kids rode ponies.
American Made Miniatures is located in the beautiful farm land on the edge of Petaluma. They are a local farm sanctuary with a special focus on animals that have been displaced from their homes. When we visited during fire season, they had recently rescued a number of horses who had to evacuate and a handful of very young baby goats.
Our first visit was in August 2020, a pandemic summer during an early wildfire season that produced such terrible air quality locally, the kids couldn’t play outside here at home. Seeing that parts of Marin county were clearer on the air map, we discovered Jodi Richardson and her small, family-operated animal sanctuary, American Made Miniatures, by searching for pony rides on Yelp. She responded right away to our inquiry, booked a time, and sent us clear directions to find her farm.
We made our second trip to American Made Miniatures on an unseasonably warm February Saturday afternoon (Ongoing pandemic silver lining: there is hardly ever traffic driving north from the Bay Area on weekends these days). We enjoyed a pleasant 68 degree visit, just perfect!
What to expect at American Made Miniatures
So many cool animals!
Guinea fowl and chickens greeted us right away in the gravel parking lot. One of the family led us on an incredible farm tour with lots of learning and animal interactions along the way. The volunteers and staff were so personable and patient, answering every wacky curious question, as our kids all talked over each other.
The guided farm tour is about 40-minutes long and the guides are both conscientious about the kids safety (warning them which animals might nip) and very relaxed about letting them run around. Our tour started with the tiny critters; the children were able to pet bunnies, feed guinea pigs, visit with a hamster, and hold the adorable hedgehog, Pocahontas.
As we continued, the children watched the goats play on their very own playground and got to feed carrots to pigs, goats, and horses. A big, beautiful horse showed them a wide grin full of teeth in exchange for a snack.
The farm is not a big place, but it is more than enough to give your kids a good time petting miniature horses and other animals. I was continually impressed that the animals at American Made Miniatures seem so happy, well cared-for, in clean spaces with lots of food and company.
The cows are the stars of the show
There are a variety of really beautiful cows, but the one we can’t stop talking about is Cowboy, an extremely furry Scottish Highland calf. He is a furry brown muppet of a cow, already a big boy though, technically, he’s just a baby. The older kids took turns holding a milk bottle to feed him. My children have asked about Cowboy every day since we left him. And, no kids, we’re not getting our own calf.
No, wait, the zebra and zonkey are the coolest!
An animal that stands out amongst the more traditional farm animals is an exotic looking zebra! Beside him in the pen are both a donkey and another animal called a zonkey (donkey brown on top with zebra stripes on the legs). Zeke is an animal hybrid and a really cool sight to see for the parents and kids alike.
I could go on and on about the great array of animals the kids get to feed and pet. The gist is that it’s really awesome how much fun interacting the kids are allowed to do.
Pony Rides at American Made Miniatures
Even though I hadn’t scheduled it ahead of time, we were able to book pony rides for four of our children on the spot. The rides themselves were extra special because the farmer walked the child on the pony all the way around the farm. In my experience, many places provide very brief amounts of time on a horse or pony — usually on a boring circle path — for a pretty penny. In contrast, the pony rides at American Made Miniatures were nice and long and at a very fair cost.
Plan your visit to American Made Miniatures Farm Sanctuary in Petaluma
Location: 1 Sonoma Mountain Rd, Petaluma
Phone: (707) 778-2060
Email for a reservation or book in advance on Facebook. The farm accepts cash and venmo.
More information for parents and families
I really recommend scheduling a trip to Jodi Richardson’s farm sanctuary as a wonderful day trip. A few more things to know:
- There is a clean porta potty by the parking lot
- There is an assortment of little picnic tables.
- There is hand sanitizer available
- Everyone on the farm wore a mask.
- Wear closed-toe shoes for the farm
- Bring along wet wipes since kids feed so many animals.
- Both our August visit and February there was mild weather. I bet hot days are really HOT so you’ll want water, hats, and sunscreen, too.
- American Made Miniatures sells a really cute wall calendar of pictures from the farm as a fundraiser to care for the animals. My six-year old has been taking it with us when we leave the house to show whoever will listen, the picture of Cowboy in a Christmas hat.
[Photo credits as indicated, all rights reserved]