Hendricks County, Indiana, has so much to offer: parks, playgrounds and places to play outside. But our county also has plenty to offer in the animal world. Think outside the box this fall and check out some of these unconventional farms and pet-friendly locations both in or just outside of Hendricks County.

Farms & Petting Zoos

Natural Valley RanchNatural Valley Ranch

This hidden gem is made up of 78 acres of scenic woods and trails tucked away on the southern edge of Brownsburg. There are many opportunities here to get up close and personal with the animals.

The popular horseback trail rides are available by reservation only. The trail rides explore scenic forests along the banks of White Lick Creek.

The ranch also offers horseback riding lessons, birthday parties, pony rides, summer camp, field trips and scout programs. Children especially will also love their small petting zoo you can visit without reservations.

For more information, call (317) 509-3577 or visit their website. Operating hours are Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m.

Montrose Farms Alpaca Ranch Montrose Farms Alpaca Ranch

Take a private, guided tour of this small, family farm in Brownsburg where the owners focus on best management practices and sustainable living for their herd of alpacas!

See these adorable, fuzzy-faced animals up close, learn about their heritage and discover the process of creating fleece from their soft fur.

For more information, call Lori Lovely at (317) 456-4083 or visit their website.

Oinking Acres Farm & Animal Sanctuary

We will have much more about this labor of love in Brownsburg in an upcoming blog post that provides homes and finds homes for a variety of farm animals, but particularly their adorable and very friendly pot-bellied pigs.

You can take a guided tour of Oinking Acres by reservation only. For more information or to schedule a tour, click here.

Hunter’s Honey Farm Hunter's Honey Farm

Ok, so bees aren’t cuddly, and maybe it’s up for debate if they’re cute. But they’re definitely fascinating, and you can learn all about them on Hunter’s Honey Farm, located not far from Hendricks County in Martinsville.

This farm is open daily and filled with many products produced at the farm. Tours include honey tasting, beekeeping discussions, candle-making demonstrations, honey extracting and honey bottling.

Don’t forget to purchase products in their gift shop made from the beeswax and pollen created by bees right on the farm. Everything from candles to lip balm to teriyaki sauce as well as honey candy are available for sale.

The farm includes 65 acres of hardwood timber, including 4,000 Christmas trees. Hunter’s Honey Farm is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Indianapolis Zoo

We would be remiss to leave out one of the best parts of living just west of downtown Indianapolis. Don’t forget to visit The Indianapolis Zoo. Book a hotel in Hendricks County for a more affordable stay and to avoid the noise and traffic of downtown, and a short drive will get you to the front gates of our city’s beautiful zoo!

Explore multiple biomes, from desert to forest to plains, and make sure you catch the dolphin show, feed the giraffes and see the Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center.

The zoo is easily accessible from Hendricks County via Rockville Road (U.S. 36). Take it east and you’ll run right into the zoo on your left-hand side before you get to downtown.

Pet-Friendly Locations & Restaurants

While those are some unique opportunities, maybe you’re a little more of a homebody, and you a need a pleasant place to hang out and eat with your pup. There are actually many Hendricks County locations that welcome dogs.

The Shops at Perry CrossingShops at Perry Crossing in Plainfield, IN

This dog-friendly outdoor shopping center welcomes four-legged friends in all communal areas and in whichever stores have a dog-friendly sticker in the window.

Restaurants in Perry Crossing that allow owners to bring their dogs onto their dining patio include the Claddagh Irish Pub, BRU Burger and Stone Creek Dining Company.

For more details, visit the mall's website.

Other locally-owned restaurants in Hendricks County that offer dog-friendly patios or reserved dog-friendly tables include:

Dog ParksBrownsburg's Cardinal Bark Park (Photo courtesy of Brownsburg Parks on Instagram)

If your dog needs to run off all those calories from eating out, check out our county’s dog parks.

Cardinal Bark Park

The newest of Hendricks County's dog park, this two-acre masterpiece along Hornaday Road is a short walk from the B&O Trail and has plenty of amenities and space to keep your dog or dogs entertained. You must pay a monthly membership fee to enter, and you can register up to three dogs.

For more information or to register, click here

Paw Park

Located in Avon at Washington Township Park, this park is designed to give dog owners the opportunity to socialize and exercise their dogs in an enclosed area. Dogs must have a membership.

Applications can be found online at the Paw Park website.

Bark Park

The Plainfield Bark Park,1007 Longfellow Drive, also requires dogs to be registered, which involves a fee and a signed waiver of liability. You can register your dog at the Richard A. Carlucci Recreation & Aquatic Center.