My nine-year-old daughter has asked for a horse since last summer. Scratch that. She has asked for a horse since she could first talk, but now it is more serious. Like, “why don’t we have a horse yet?”. She seems to think that having a horse is as natural as having gas or electricity in your home. She is what you would call a “cowgirl” and is proud of it. If we ever get a horse, barn or live on any type of farm in the future, she will be sleeping in the barn with the animals on the regular. Do you have someone you know who is like that? I have rounded up the best places within driving distance to let your inner cowgirls and cowboys out without having a horse living in your kitchen. Not that there is anything wrong with that.
Where Kids can be Cowboys and Cowgirls Near Lake County
Donley’s Wild West Town
8512 S. Union Rd., Union | (815) 923-9000
I know this is outside of Lake County, but I wanted to feature this place first because, for kids, this place is the closest they are to becoming a cowhand. With activities like gold panning, pony rides, canoeing, a shooting gallery, roping instruction and a lot more, you can knock out a day of being a cowboy and still be home for dinner. They also offer a couple of different places for food options as well. Tickets are $17 per person (kids age two and younger are free) and include all the attractions. Check the website as they sometimes offer a $3 off per admission coupon.
You can read Shelby’s guide to Donley’s Wild West Town as well as the surrounding area to help you plan your trip.
Golden Oaks Farm
27730 W. Bonner Rd., Wauconda | (847) 526-6644
Located in Lake County, Golden Oaks Farm has been around since 1948 raising Holstein dairy cows. They offer tours where kids will get to see the cows within their farm environment, see a milking demonstration, pet a baby calf, and get to drink some chocolate milk afterward. See the website to book a tour appointment.
15900 W. Kelly Rd., Wadsworth | (847) 336-0120
Patch 22 has been a Lake County staple since 1977. Originally started in Prairie View on Route 22 (hence the name), in 1987 they moved up to their current location and have hosted children for decades. Here you will find a petting zoo, pony rides, hayrides and pumpkins in the fall, and Patch 22 hosts field trips and birthday parties for your cowboy or girl. Pony rides are only offered on Sundays, so check out the website before you head up there.
Partners For Progress
23525 W. Milton Rd., Wauconda | (847) 438-5400
Partners for Progress is a wonderful place offering therapeutic horse riding for children and adults with special needs. If you have a loved one who would be a great fit for this, contact them today. Heather gave us a look inside PFP here if this is something that your cowgirl or boy would be interested in.
Prairie Wind Family Farm
560 Harris Rd., Grayslake | (847) 986-4600
A big part of being a cowboy and cowgirl means you need to know where your food comes from. If they answer “Meijer,” get them to this farm stat. They offer events such as pop-up cooking classes, gleaning (harvesting), and they also take part in the Lake County Farm Stroll which is an event where farms all throughout the Lake County area are featured and you are free to explore. The event is on September 17, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and the event is FREE. Register at the Facebook page here.
7406 Tryon Grove Rd., Richmond | (847) 867-6656
Ella’s second-grade teacher had heard all about her love for horses throughout second grade and told us about this wonderful farm for her to take a horse camp. We have headed here every summer since for their VBS Horse Camp ($40 for four days) which is perfect for kids who are on the fence (get it?) about horse riding. They offer horse riding instruction for kids and adults of all ages. While not in Lake County, it is just a drive over the McHenry county line and the scenery along the way will make the drive worth it.
Did we miss any places? Let us know in the comments!