Farm stays are among the fastest-growing family vacation ideas for parents and kids looking to connect with nature in a sustainable and renewable way. Also called agritourism or farm vacations, farm stays involve staying on a working farm and interacting with farmers and their animals. On a farm stay, your family might participate in light chores such as feeding goats or tending horses as well as learning the ins and outs of farm life. Not only is it great fun, it’s also educational.
“There are so many new and fun things to do on a farm stay, we find most kids drop their mobile devices and are glued on the natural world rather than a screen,” says Scottie Jones, the owner of Leaping Lamb Farm in Oregon and founder of Farm Stay USA, a booking platform that connects people and farms. “Farms help to connect kids with animals, nature, and the freedom to run around. Most surprising for many parents, [farm vacations] also help to connect the family around a dinner table or campfire.”
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The Best Farm Stays in the U.S. for Families
The summer vacation season is an especially good time for a family farm stay because the weather is nice and farms around the country are abuzz with activity. Here are five of the best farm vacations in the U.S. where you can connect with nature and learn about farm life.
1. Stone and Thistle Farm
East Meredith, New York
Farm stay chores at Stone and Thistle Farm in the Catskills include grooming horses, milking goats, collecting eggs, and holding baby chicks. Additional hands-on field and kitchen workshops are educational and family-friendly experiences focused on farming or cooking experiences (these are separate from the farm vacation and must be booked in groups of five or more). A special farmer-for-a-day program is also offered.
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The working farm’s accommodations include a first-floor suite in the main house and an overnight stay in a farmhand cabin, which offers more privacy and is a short walk away from the main house. Both have private entrances, refrigerators, and cooking equipment.
2. Homecoming Ranch
Farm stays at Homecoming Ranch honor both the livestock and the land by sharing the working ranch’s sustainable and regenerative agricultural practices with guests. The 98-acre farm is home to Scottish Highland cattle as well as goats and chickens. Farm tours and chores such as milking goats and collecting eggs and strawberries are a fun way to facilitate learning for kids of all ages; a summer camp for children is also offered each year.
Homecoming Ranch’s homey two-bedroom guest cabin is situated in a rural area that’s also close to Columbus and Ohio University. Amenities include a full kitchen, fenced backyard, fire pit, and heat and air conditioning. For the kids, bunk beds add an extra touch of vacation fun.
3. BlissWood Bed and Breakfast Ranch
Cat Spring, Texas
Situated on 350-acres, picturesque BlissWood Bed and Breakfast Ranch is a working farm just an hour west of Houston. Horseback riding, ranch games, fishing, and feeding tours with farm animals are all part of the guest experience. Another highlight is the exotic animal safari experience, a guided safari where you can see bison, antelope, deer, and more.
Farm stays at BlissWood Bed and Breakfast Ranch offer a wide variety of lodging options, including cabins, houses, glamping tents, and even a Conestoga covered wagon. (Kids will love the covered wagon, which is tucked in a private clearing and evokes the feeling of a true Wild West adventure.) Continental breakfast is included wherever you choose to stay on the ranch, which makes it convenient for families. There are no televisions, and after dark families can enjoy delicious s’mores under the stars.
4. Leaping Lamb Farm
Originally a homestead dating back to 1862, Oregon’s 60-acre Leaping Lamb Farm has been operating as a farm stay destination since 2006. Today the farm is home to sheep, chickens, ducks, horses, lambs, goats, and a miniature donkey named Chip who will nudge you for petting. Owner Scottie Jones and her resident farmhands take guests on feeding tours, egg gathering trips, and even poop scooping. The farm stay property has access to miles of trails and forested land to discover.
A true respite from everyday life, Leaping Lamb Farm’s 4,000-square-foot farmhouse (built in 1895) has five guest bedrooms and three bathrooms. Lovingly restored to include modern comforts such as air conditioning, a dishwasher, and laundry facilities, the house is great for larger families and multigenerational getaways. The living room holds a beautiful cozy fireplace, and the kitchen is fully equipped for hosting family gatherings.
5. Tabula Rasa Farms
Set among the bucolic rolling hills of Oregon’s Willamette Valley, Tabula Rasa Farms lets families spread out and enjoy life at a farm. The two-bedroom, three-bathroom farmhouse (available as a rental from Airbnb) comes with a fully equipped kitchen, washer and dryer, and outdoor deck and patio. In the summer, there’s a swimming hole behind the house along with many hiking trails. A short walk away is the working farm, with animals such as cows, pigs, and ducks.
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Farm stays at Tabula Rasa Farms are one part of a bigger movement called The Ground, established to provide ethically raised meat using sustainable farming practices. The farm offers educational tours which are a great opportunity for kids to meet the farm animals and interact with guides, who provide information on regenerative farming and permaculture. Tours run between 45 and 60 minutes and need to be booked in advance.