You don’t have to wait for the costume contest at the Minnesota State Fair or llama trek at the Minnesota Zoo to get up close and personal with a camelid. Carlson’s Llovable Llamas in Waconia is open year-round to visitors.
Set on 10 acres, the farm is home to about 60 llamas and the odd alpaca. It hosts birthday parties and llama yoga classes (next dates: July 9, 18, and 25, and August 1), and loans out its gentle beasts for special events like weddings, classroom visits, and therapy sessions in nursing homes.
Evan Carlson, a second-generation llama farmer and former 4H-er, gave us a tour of the bucolic property, starting with a crash course in llama education. (Fun fact: Llamas have three stomaches and six eyelids!) We met 18-year-old Zorro, the farm’s chillest elder statesman, as well as a bunch of cria, a.k.a. fuzzy baby llamas ranging in age from two weeks to two months.
Approximately 647 photos later, we found ourselves leading two mellow llamas — Shanola and Everest – on a half-mile trek around the farm’s perimeter. Shanola was a sassy strutter; Everest was a voracious eater, stopping every six feet or so to snack on bushes. Post-stroll, we brushed and fed half a dozen llamas and peppered Evan with the last of our burning llama questions.
Carlson’s is open seven days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; tours must be scheduled in advance and cost $10 per person (cash or check only). There is a small llama-themed gift shop on site, selling stuffed llama toys, bundles of all-natural llama yarn and wool, and low-odor llama compost for you gardening types.
Wanna make an afternoon of it? Pencil in stops at nearby Schram Vineyards, J. Carver Distillery, and the Lowry Nature Center at Carver Park Reserve, part of the Three Rivers Park district. 🦙🦙🦙
Carlson’s Llovable Llamas
8380 County Rd. 10 E., Waconia, MN; 952-442-4244.