#FamilyTravel – Forget elves and snowmen and Santa, my kids are fascinated with reindeer. Aren’t you? We see deer frequently where we live and on our travels to other places. We have Santa and his elves figured out (good behavior + kindness = presents), snowmen are easy to explain, it snows and you make one. But reindeer? What’s the story with reindeer? The best place to try to find out is Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch in Rantoul, Illinois.
The Hardy family has the perfect place for your kids to come face to face with these friendly, gentle creatures of Christmas folklore. Hardy’s reindeer flew from Alaska to Rantoul, Illinois (near Champaign) aboard 747 airplanes. From August to December the farm is open for family fun. Enjoy the children’s play areas, a Christmas tree farm and the famous reindeer tours where you’ll have the opportunity to come nose to nose with Santa’s antlered friends.
Enter the fenced in area and enjoy some time with Hardy’s reindeer as they approach you with their mighty antlers raised to the sky, hold out your hands and greet them with graham crackers and oats (provided with tour fee). Pet the majestic animals and snap some photos of your kids excitement.
My favorite moment was when my four year old was taught to give a “reindeer kiss.” She placed a fraction of a graham cracker in between her lips and stepped towards the fence. A large reindeer approached and stuck his head through the slats. Her eyes squeezed closed with anticipation of that cold, wet nose and tongue touching her tiny face.
The tour should actually be called an “encounter,” you won’t really tour anything and you won’t see anything you wouldn’t see from the fence outside of the “tour” area but you will encounter reindeer! Be sure to ask your guide everything you need to know about reindeer.
Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch is located in Rantoul, Illinois (1356 County Rd. 2900 N.), about two hours from Indianapolis. For other fun places to visit or stay during your trip, check out the Champaign, Illinois area. Admission and parking are free. Reindeer tours are $5 per person. Snacks and warm beverages are available for purchase as well as Christmas trees and assorted gift items in the gift shop.
Coming soon…more of our Champaign County adventures! Where to eat, sleep and play in Champaign, Illinois!