From ages six to 76, seeing animals awakens the kid-at-heart in us all. You won’t find a zoo or aquarium on the island (though to be fair, nature’s aquarium has us surrounded) but fans of the furry, feathered, or scaled aren’t out of luck. Your kids won’t come home begging for a puppy after these Martha’s Vineyard animal encounters, but they may ask for an alpaca instead.


Head Out to Pasture at The FARM Institute

Telling your kid that their room looks like a pigsty doesn’t have the same effect if they don’t understand the reference. Time to change that! The FARM Institute in Edgartown is dedicated to connecting people with agriculture, and one way to accomplish that is through hands-on learning. Take a one-hour morning Chore Tour between September and May to lend a helping hand during animal encounters with the farm’s cows, pigs, sheep, or chickens.


Bring the Binoculars for Birding

Blue heron at Caleb Pond. Photo: Bill Brine via flickr (CC BY 2.0)

If you have an avian fascination (they do descend from dinosaurs, after all) then pack the binoculars for a birding expedition. One viewing option you can’t miss are the osprey nesting platforms strewn throughout the island. Look up for a chance to view osprey or fledglings during the spring or summer. During a winter visit, head to Norton Point Beach on Chappaquiddick to seek out snowy owls along the sand.  


Animal Encounters at Island Alpaca

Are alpacas really as soft as they seem? There’s only one way to find out and Martha’s Vineyard is the best place to make it happen. Head to Island Alpaca in Vineyard Haven to see the herd in all their glory. To get the full experience, we recommend taking a workshop like Alpaca Discovery for a hands-on experience feeding, cleaning, and even walking these four-legged furballs.


Photo: David Berkowitz via flickr (CC BY 2.0)


Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary

Admired locally for some of the best island hiking trails around, Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary is another chance place for animal encounters on Martha’s Vineyard. A variety of habitats encompass the 350-acre property, from fields to salt marsh, where visitors may glimpse wildlife during their own explorations. An additional Nature Play area features butterfly and bird gardens full of winged wonder, and the sanctuary also has a Discovery Room with snakes, turtles, and hands-on activities to take part in.


Some animal encounters on Martha’s Vineyard are guaranteed while others require a bit of sightseeing skill and luck. If you cross paths with any creatures during your stay, share your story with us at the Square. We’re a pet-friendly place but we don’t often get to see barnyard buddies at our front desk.

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