For families who enjoy the outdoors – and who want to teach their kids where food comes from — a farm stay can be a fun, healthy and budget-friendly vacation option. Farm Stay U.S. is a group of farms and ranches spanning all 50 states, so it’s likely you can find a property within driving distance. And at properties that serve meals, the food you eat will be fresh, a real farm-to-table experience.
Here are a few examples of what’s available:
Turtle Mist Farm in Franklinton, N.C., is a small property located 30 minutes from Raleigh, N.C. It uses sustainable farming principles to produce a variety of vegetables, pasture-raised laying chickens, turkeys, ducks, grass-fed sheep and beef cattle.
The owners say their goal is to share their love of nature with others and to teach children where eggs and steak really begin. They strive to raise their animals in a humane manner. Their heritage breeds include hair sheep (Dorper, St. Croix, and Kathadin crosses); Ameraucana and Cuckoo Maran chickens, which lay green, pink, tan and dark brown eggs; Gelbveih beef cattle; Muscovy and Khaki Campbell ducks; Bourbon Red turkeys; quail and Berkshire hogs. A peacock is also in residence.
Guests stay in a three-bedroom, two-bath guesthouse with an eat-in kitchen where they can prepare their meals. There’s a fishing pier (and poles to borrow) for bringing up the “catch of the day,” which can then be grilled on the barbecue. Helping with farm maintenance is optional; rocking chairs on the front porch offer relaxation.
The price here is $110 a night for a family of four.
Choose a stay at Hull-O-Farms in Durham, N.Y., for a farm stay and immersion in U.S. history. Since its 1779 Revolutionary War founding, the Hull family has been keepers of the land now known as Hull-O Farms, which has been designated by New York as a National Bicentennial Farm.
The farmhouse, which is still home to the Hull family, was built in 1810. The farm has hundreds of acres under cultivation and feeds not only the family’s livestock, but also wildlife — the white-tailed deer and wild turkey that can often be seen right from the porch.
Guests gather at the farmhouse twice a day to share meals with the family. Breakfast and dinner feature all-natural, farm-fresh meats and farm-fresh produce with gluten-free and vegetarian choices available.
Kids and adults can share experiences of hand-milking cows and goats, feeding the pigs, bottle-feeding some of the small farm animals and collecting eggs. If you visit in October, a corn maze and pumpkin patch are open to the public.
A stay at one of the three private guest houses starts at $130 a night.
RustRidge Ranch and Winery in California’s Napa Valley offers more interesting activities for adults. This rustic property is a thoroughbred racehorse ranch, a vineyard and a winery and a bed and breakfast.
The B&B is a western-style ranch house with comfortable bedrooms, queen-size featherbeds, private bathrooms, decks, views, a large open-beamed living room with a fireplace and a breakfast room where guests are served a hearty, ranch-style breakfast. In the evenings, the country kitchen is the gathering place for sampling RustRidge wines and hors d’ouevres (vegetarian choices available).
Adult visitors can learn about growing grapes and making wine and breeding and training racehorses. Kids can help with chores, bike, fish, watch the stars and take nature walks. Other activities include tennis, bird watching and hiking in the vineyards and hills surrounding the Chiles Valley.
Area activities include fishing at Lake Hennessey; hiking, fishing and boating at Lake Berryessa; and touring the historic Napa Valley to sample fine wines and regional foods. The ranch has a swimming pool, hot tub, sauna, concierge service, a computer, phone and Internet.
Prices start at $165 a night.
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