For the final post in our series of things to do with the kids, I've saved the best for last! Whenever we're looking to take a break from the stress of the day or just work out the wiggles, we head to Great Brook Farm State Park in Carlisle -- it is extremely family and kid friendly, and lots of people bring their dogs. An oasis for walkers, hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders with over 20 miles of trails winding through 1,000 acres, Great Brook is also a paradise for photographers, and the fall offers beautiful foliage opportunities. Native Americans used sections of Great Brook Farm as sacred sites and these can be viewed from some of the trails. This place is amazing!
The trails offer varied terrain -- woods as well as rocky and grassy avenues. During the winter, some trails are groomed for cross-country skiing and one is even lantern lit for a "moonlight" experience! To facilitate your fun, one of the farm buildings has been converted to a ski rental concession. In addition, Meadow Pond has a canoe launch and is ideal for fishing.
The farm and buildings make up a classic eastern Massachusetts agricultural landscape which has been in use for centuries. Holsteins have been kept here for over 60 years and current farmer Mark Duffy continues the tradition. The park is home to the first robotic milking system in Massachusetts, installed in a state-of-the-art barn designed specifically for this technology. Individuals and groups can tour the new facility and watch the cows being milked through a glass wall while you enjoy homemade ice cream!
The ice cream stand is open daily from 11am to dusk from April through October. An observational beehive is located near the ice cream stand and the honey from the Duffy's locally grown cranberry bog (within walking distance from Great Brook Farm State Park) is sold there as well. There's also a small petting zoo to walk through with chickens, sheep, pigs, rabbits, and goats.
Parking is $2/day. See you there!