I had visited Olympic Game Farm twice with visiting family and friends in the past two years of living in Seattle. Those were the pre-Gwen days. I enjoyed seeing the animals upclose (just separated by the car window!), feeding them by hand and the luxury of driving through the vast park to sightsee in comfort without breaking a sweat!
After I had Gwen, the thought of bringing her to Olympic Game Farm occurred to me. The opportunity came when another friend visited us from San Francisco and we decided to do a day trip to Sequim to check out the lavender fields. Since Olympic Game Farm is just a couple of minutes away from the lavender farms, it's a no-brainer to visit it too!
Our Olympic Game Farm Experience
I wanted to mentally prepare Gwen for the drive-through so I brought along a book about wildlife animals and told her we’ll be seeing some of the animals through the car window. I also showed her the loaf of whole wheat bread we bought at the ticketing office and told her we’ll get to wind down the windows and feed the animals.
Since we’re going at a very very slow pace in the car, I unbuckled Gwen’s seat belt and held her securely so that she could look out of the window. Propped in between the car seat and the window was her book which I referenced to often whenever I spotted animals that were featured in the book — zebra, peacocks, ducks, bison, elk, bear etc.
Before we fed any animal, I would ask Gwen, “Shall we feed the zebra?” to which she’ll reply, “ya” enthusiastically. This was my way of making her aware of each feeding session. When the window was wound down however, she could recoil in fear; I reckoned she hadn’t expected big slobbering tongues licking the window and seeing large teeth chomping away at the bread 😂
I wanted to get Gwen to hold on to the bread and feed the animals with me but she was too afraid to. I reassured her constantly, “I know the big animals look scary. It’s normal to be afraid. Don’t worry you’re safe in the car with Mama. Mama will show you how to feed bread to the animals. If you don’t want to, nobody will force you to put your hand out.” It was a teaching moment for me, to calm Gwen's fears and get her to be involved in the moment just by being present instead of forcing her to do something she clearly didn't want to for the "experience" or trying to "toughen her up".
In all, this drive-through experience was eye-opening for little Gwen, who saw many animals she's only seen in books before right before her eyes, just separated by the car window!
- Some of the brown bears are known to wave back at people! Try to wave maniacally at every bear you see and maintain eye contact. We were really lucky to get a wave back from one of them! It was an amazing moment, one I would remember for life! I read somewhere that some of the bears were raised by humans from young and that explains their friendly attitudes towards humans.
- Admission is all-day! So you might like to visit in the morning (the park opens at 9am) and then re-enter the park after lunch and your little one’s nap before it closes at 5pm!
- If you have to decide between a full driving road or ferry route always opt for the latter. Even when google maps shows green, all-clear, no-traffic routes, we have almost always run into congestion. So minimize the driving and time your departure to coincide with ferry takeoffs, which will save you time and road angst.
- Don’t get a car wash right before the drive-through. You’ll definitely get snot and drool all over your car 😂 Get a wash after, not before!
- Bring sanitizing wet wipes to clean the car door handles so you don’t have to cringe at touching the door handles before you get to the car wash.
- Bring along a book with wildlife animals to reinforce your little one's learning! When you spot an animal outside your car window, point out the same animal in the book to your child so she can make the connection! I brought the "First 100 Animals Lift-the-Flap: Over 50 Fun Flaps to Lift and Learn" by Roger Priddy, which is fabulous because there are lots of animals in the book that live on Olympic Game Farm.
- The ticketing office staff will reiterate this, remember not to stop your car at the bison area. Bison may surround your car and cause damage. I say this from personal experience 2 years back when we were ambushed by bison and had to be rescued by the park ranger.
- We didn't visit the petting zoo but there is a small area for people to get in close contact with the tamer animals. It's open seasonally though. You could try that if your little one enjoys petting animals!
- Some of the animals in Olympic Game Farm have starred in Disney films or contributed to the sound recordings! Olympic Game Farm is apparently their retirement home of sorts. Read more from Seattle Times.
A must-visit if you're in Washington with young animal lovers!
This is a truly unique experience (vs visiting a zoo on foot) and the highlight of many visitors' trips to Washington. Though I've done the drive-through 4 times, I'm still not sick of it because it's really fun and somewhat different each visit. Especially since I only got to see the legendary bear wave on my 4th trip!
For little ones, I believe they will be intrigued by the animals, whether they do the feeding or not! Now Gwen curiously says "nom nom nom" when I read Llama Llama Red Pyjamas to her, I believe it's because she remembers some part of our time at Olympic Game Farm feeding llamas (because there's nothing about the llama eating in the book!)
Follow #gweninnature on Instagram for my chronicles of traipsing North America with a toddler and seeing nature through her eyes.
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Hi! I am Yunnie. I am the newly minted mama to a little baby girl and a mum friend to everyone on this special (and many times scary) journey of motherhood. Also a graduated bride with a penchant for weddings.