One of the tips in my ebook “How to plan an epic vacation on a budget”–go here to sign up for my mailing list to get your free copy–is to find smaller, lesser known attractions off the beaten path. In October of 2021, I went on a tour of the Gibbon Conservation Center in Santa Clarita, and I visited Gilchrist Farm.
Gibbon Conservation Center
The Gibbon Conservation Center is small, and the tour runs for about an hour for $15 per adult & $5 per child. All in all it was very enjoyable for the price, and the tour guide was very knowledgable.
Gilchrist Farm is a farm in a rural part of Santa Clarita and is located about five minutes away from the Gibbon Conservation Center. They are open weekends from 9-2. Entry is free, but most of the activities within the farm are paid–anywhere between $5-$25 depending on the activity.
For adults, I recommend the archery ($15/person), axe throwing ($15/person), and the wagon ride ($5/person). And for kids, I recommend the train ride ($7/child-adults accompany for free), the pony carousel ($7/child), and the farm visit ($5/kids 3-100).
While there are other activities, these are the ones that I think are best suited to the age groups listed.
Archery & Axe Throwing
I have a confession to make–I didn’t actually do the axe throwing as there were time constraints. The tour at the Gibbon Conservation Center was at 10 AM, so I had to come a little later. I arrived at Gilchrist Farm a little after 11, nearly an hour earlier than I had expected to.
The Archery was so much fun though! It was challenging, so not for little kids, although there were kids about 7-8 and older doing the activity. It takes some upper body strength, and you have to be able to follow instructions, otherwise you can get hit with an arrow when you’re retrieving yours! (No one was injured that I saw–so that means that everyone followed directions 🙂 ).
You get three rounds with I believe it was 7 arrows, so it was well worth the $15 I spent on it.
Wagon & Train Rides
These two activities were pretty much the same thing–the only difference was just the type of vehicle used. For the adults you’re in the back of a wagon towed by a tractor. For the kids, the vehicle is made up of 3 different animal cars, also pulled by a tractor.
Since I am not a child and weigh more than 80 pounds, I obviously did not ride the Pony Carousel. It reminded me of the pony rides at Deer Park in Pennsylvania when I was growing up.
The Farm Visit I did do. Although I probably would have done it anyway, I misunderstood what this was. I honestly thought this was admission to the farm, but that is not what it is. Admission to the farm is free. The farm visit is the petting zoo.
The petting zoo has two sides to it–the birds and the mammals.
The Bird Side
The bird side had mostly chickens and ducks. While you are allowed to interact with the animals, this was easier said than done because they were very fearful of people.
The Mammal Side
On the mammal side, there were goats and sheep, as well as a baby cow that you could interact with if it came close enough. A fence separated it from. you, but if the calf came over to the fence, you could pet it.
This was the total opposite of the bird side, and the animals there were very friendly. I had goats following me around (and they don’t give us food to feed them with!) The sheep were a bit more shy and didn’t want to interact too much.
Overall, I had a great time! Awesome for a quick weekend away from Los Angeles. My favorite part was probably the Archery.
NOTE: There was food there, but not great for people with food allergies and sensitivities. I believe I did eat something before I left, but I do remember there being limited options.