Wes Conners, 10, visits with a goat at Frying Pan Farm Park in Herndon. (Photos by Ann Cameron Siegal)

A visit to Frying Pan Farm Park is a step back in time and a treat for your senses. See, hear, smell and touch things that were common on a family farm during the 1920s through the 1950s.

Recently, exclamations of “Wow!” rang out as visitors got their first peek at a baby goat born only hours before. “Ewww!” exclaimed one youngster who caught her first whiff of the pig pen. Visitors gently stroked the backs of goats, sheep and pigs as cows and roosters made their presence known nearby.

Some Cub Scouts from Herndon made connections between what they saw and their own family experiences. Daniel Valkaer, 9, fascinated at seeing tractors from the early 1900s, said, “My dad and grandpa grew up on farms, and Grandpa still has two tractors.”

William Malyszka, 10, said: “I really love the sheep. My mom knows how to spin their wool.”

Only four miles from Washington Dulles International Airport, Frying Pan Farm Park offers a peek at a way of life far different from our technology-filled lives. It wasn’t that long ago that western Fairfax County had many family farms and was one of the largest dairy-producing communities in Virginia.

Bring your family and a picnic and spend the day exploring.


These 3-week-old piglets at Frying Pan Farm Park will weigh about 250 pounds by midsummer.

Visitors to Frying Pan Farm Park in May can see sheep shearing.

Start your visit at the park’s visitor center, housed in a converted 1896 dairy barn. Explore the small interactive museum to learn about the lives of those who lived on and near this property. Find out which chores children did. Test your knowledge of milk and cows. See historical photos of the property before it became a county park. You’ll notice that the landscape and many of the buildings still look very similar.

Follow the gravel path to the Kidwell Farm section to see spring’s newest baby animals. Chat with the farmhands and imagine what it would have been like to live there — to plow the fields with draft horses; to plant, tend and harvest the crops; to care for the animals. At 4 p.m. each day, visitors are invited to help milk a cow.

Occasionally, there are tours of the 1930s-era farmhouse. Long before the Internet and television, radios were much larger and refrigerators much smaller than what we use today. See how houses were heated then. Notice how different a toddler’s stroller was from today’s fancy styles.

At the farm’s General Store, borrow an activity backpack to use while exploring the hiking trails winding through the woods behind the park. Search for a small hidden waterfall while doing activities that will help you earn a Junior Ranger patch. The dirt path requires navigating over rocks and roots along a creek.

You’ll walk past the equestrian center, where students learn to ride horses or practice for shows.

Dimitris Ipiotis, 8, exploring the park with his twin brother, Miltos, said Frying Pan Farm Park is special because “you can have some alone time with nature.” And, whenever you go, you’ll always see something different.


Daniel Valkaer, 9, left, and Wilson Purdue, 10, watch baby lambs get some exercise at Frying Pan Farm Park in Herndon.

If you go

What: Frying Pan Farm Park.

Where: 2739 West Ox Road, Herndon.

When: Park is open daily dawn to dusk. Farm is open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

How much: Admission to the park is free. Some activities such as wagon rides, the carousel (opening mid-April) and special events have a fee.

For more information: A parent can visit fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/fryingpanpark for upcoming activities and a schedule of animal births.