Old time Family Fun at Clark’s Elioak Farm!

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In the heart of Howard County, Maryland, Clark’s Elioak Farm is the perfect spot to enjoy old-time family fun with the kids.

Entrance castle at Clark's Elioak Farm.

Martha Clark, the 6th generation owner of this farm, has recently brought her daughter on board to carry on the family tradition.

The farm’s history dates back to 1797 when the Clark brothers started the farm. Through the centuries, the farm has had many different purposes — from milling to cattle and dairy. In 2002, Clark’s Elioak Farm added an agritourism petting zoo with a vegetable farm stand.

Then, in 2004, Clark’s Elioak Farm “inherited” the Enchanted Forest, and everything changed. Today, the fairytale Enchanted Forest is a major draw. And, as its popularity has grown, the farm keeps adding kid-friendly fun.

The Enchanted Forest at Elioak Farm

The original Enchanted Forest opened along US Route 40 in nearby Ellicott City, Maryland back in 1955 when quirky theme parks like this were popular throughout the United States.

Enchanted Forest storybook castle attraction in Ellicott City, Maryland.

Unable to compete with roller coaster amusement parks, the Enchanted Forest closed permanently in 1989. (You can see memorabilia from the original location when you visit the Museum of Howard County History in downtown Ellicott City.)

Many of the fiberglass structures sat, unused, until 2004 when the Clark family acquired the collection.

They undertook a major labor of love. Each piece was meticulously restored, using techniques taught by a fiberglassing expert from Virginia. To save Old Mother Hubbard’s shoe, which stands 23 feet tall and weighs 5,000 pounds, they had it cut in half for transport to Elioak Farm.

Old Mother Hubbard's shoe at Clark's Elioak Farm in Howard County, Maryland.

To keep everything in tip top shape, the structures need ongoing fiberglass repair and paint, all executed as close to the original as possible.

Goldilock's house at Elioak Enchanted Forest.

It’s an awful lot of work for a low-tech attraction, but it draws grandparents who love sharing their memories and experience with their grandkids. And, well, look at me…. not a grandma, but certainly enamored with the childlike fun of this place!

Silly selfie with Papa Bear of Goldilocks fame.

The Enchanted Forest stretches across much of the 30 acres open to guests, including a number of structures tucked in the cool shade of the pine forest.

Hickory Dickory Dock from the Enchanted Forest in Ellicott City.

Other things to do at Clark’s Elioak Farm

There’s lots more to Clark’s Elioak Farm than the Enchanted Forest. In fact, this agritourism attraction began as a petting farm and market stand. There’s also a fairy forest, hay rides, train rides and a pumpkin patch.

Some of the activities at Clark's Elioak Farm with adults and kids walking through the farm.

This reminds me of Field of Dreams, “If you build it, [they] will come.” And, like the movie, it’s a reminder that the generations are connected.

We can move into the future and still respect the past. Clark’s owner, Martha Clark, shared how for elder family members, it’s a trip down memory lane that strengthens bonds as they see it through the eyes of little ones.

The Petting Farm

Let’s start where it all began, with the Elioak Petting Farm.

Baby goat eating from a child's hand while another goat looks on.

One of the best times to visit the Petting Farm is in spring, when baby animals are born. Though, no matter when you visit, the kids can get close to all sorts of animals: pigs, bunnies, horses, goats, ducks, cows, chickens and more!

Kids love pony rides ($3) and feeding the goats ($1 for feed).

Hay Rides

Take a little break during your visit to enjoy a hay ride ($3) through the farm. The hay ride goes through the grounds through the Enchanted Forest, past the pumpkin patch and through the woods.

Face on a fence post with farm buildings in background, found on hayrides at Elioak Farm.

For fun along the way, faces are hidden in the trees and along the fences, fun for kids to look for!

In summer, the hay ride goes past the sunflower garden. In fall, it stops at the pumpkin patch.

The Enchanted Express Train ($5) and Cow Train ($3) are other options.

The Fairy Forest

One of the newest additions at Clark’s Elioak Farm is the Fairy Forest. This wooded area is home to whimsical fairy houses, butterflies and flowers hidden in the forest. Enjoy a book in the storybook circle, with books available to read while you visit.

Fairy Forest trail at Elioak Farm, with gnomes, butterflies, dragons and fairies.

I loved watching kids’ delight as they found fairy houses hidden among the trees. There are 60 fairy houses in the Fairy Forest, so enjoy the shaded walk through the trees as kids discover magic around every turn.

Playground Area

It’s probably no surprise that a place geared for old fashioned family fun provides lots of play space, including slides and a covered space just for preschoolers. This is a place meant to be enjoyed!

Slides and climbers at Elioak Farm.
Slides at Elioak Farm
Preschool play area at Elioak Farm in Howard County, Maryland.
Covered preschool area just for littles!

Visiting Clark’s Elioak Farm

With lots of space and generations of family connection to Howard County, it is no surprise that Clark’s Elioak Farm is popular with locals and visitors alike. This is a Family Travels on a Budget BEST PICK for budget travel AND kid fun. The Clark family’s commitment to keeping costs as low as possible so all families can enjoy a day in the Enchanted Forest and healthy farming practices reflect their generational commitment to Ellicott City.

Most of the 540 acres at Clark’s Elioak Farm is dedicated to farming, managed by Martha Clark’s daughter (also her business partner). The farm does not use synthetic chemical pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers. It practices crop rotation and other important farming techniques to provide healthy produce and protect the environment. The farmstand is located nearby on Clarksville Pike (Route 108) across from the Iron Bridge Wine Company.

Travel Tips and Recommendations

Have I convinced you to plan a visit to Clark’s Elioak Farm in Ellicott City? Use these links to get started!

  • Where to stay: Turf Valley Resort, 2700 Turf Valley Road, Ellicott City, MD. We like the resort for its spacious rooms, indoor and outdoor pools, a kids’ playground, tennis, waterslide, onsite golf, an onsite spa, free WiFi, free parking and great restaurants. For the size of the rooms and amenities offered, the rates are incredibly reasonable. And, the beds are comfy! YAY!
King bed in my Turf Valley hotel room.
King bed and soft colors with lots of storage and counter space.
Seating area with TV and sleeper sofa.
Sleeper sofa and seating area at Turf Valley.

Visiting Clark’s Elioak Farm brought a smile to my face that lasted all day. As I wrote this post, the smiles came right back. Martha Clark, her family and her staff are friendly and welcoming. Elioak Farm is designed for family fun, particularly for ages 1-10, and the family’s commitment is evident in everything they do. This truly is a BEST PICK for affordable family fun.