Appleton Farms and Grass Rides
GOOD FOR: Ages 5-8

Source:Outdoors with Kids Boston (AMC Books)
Address:MA 1A, Hamilton and Ipswich, MA
Hours:Dawn to dusk daily
Fee: Adults and children, $3; Trustees of Reservations members, free
Contact:; 978-356-5728

Bathrooms: At the carriage barn in the farmstead
Water/Snacks: None

Appleton Farms, the country’s oldest working farm, has historic farm buildings to check out, cows to moo at, and easy walking trails to explore.

Birding in Ipswich, MA.
Photo by: Jerry and Marcy Monkman

Appleton Farms, established in 1636, is not a relic by any means. The farm is still active, and The Trustees of Reservations runs a community supported agriculture (CSA) program as well as a grass-fed beef and dairy operation. Kids will like visiting the carriage barn to see the historic carriage collection and the stables with horse statues that re-create the feel of the barn in its heyday.

You can wander along 6 miles of footpaths, bridle paths, and farm roads (some of which are part of the Bay Circuit Trail). I recommend parking at the Waldingfield Road entrance and walking to the farm compound. At the map station at the parking lot, you can pick up a laminated quest pamphlet that teaches kids about the farm’s history and eventually leads them to a treasure box with a book in which they can sign their name and a stamp they can use on a notebook or piece of paper.

If you happen to visit at a time when the cows are being led into the barns or out to pasture, watching them parade by will delight smaller children.

The Grass Rides are actually avenues that were built for horseback and carriage driving. They comprise about 5 miles, and you may be lucky enough to spot some local horseback riders out for a walk. The Grass Rides are also popular in winter with cross-country skiers.

Remember: The Trustees run a number of great family-friendly programs at the farm. Call or visit their website for details.

Plan B:

Crane Beach (Trip 76), another Trustees property, is minutes away and offers a very different outdoor experience.

Where to Eat Nearby:

Clam shacks and ice cream stands are on MA 133.


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