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If you’re looking for a change of pace for this year’s summer vacation, a farm stay might just be a great option. While farm stays have been popular in Europe and other countries for years, they’ve become increasingly popular in the U.S. as well. Some offer the chance to dig in and help out, feeding animals, collecting hen eggs and getting in on lots of the dirty work too, for more of a learning vacation experience. Others offer just a fun place to spend the night, perhaps play in a creek and immerse yourself in the country life. No matter what type of farm stay you’re looking for, these top options provide something for just about everyone.
Liberty Hill Farm & Inn - Rochester, Vermont
Liberty Hill Farm offers a unique Vermont farm vacation that feels as if it’s straight out of a children’s book – although the grownups are sure to enjoy it too. The property includes a big white farmhouse, nearly 300 Holsteins and lots of other friendly farm animals as well as an old red barn with a hayloft, all located in the picturesque Green Mountains. This acclaimed farm has received a number of awards, including ‘Best of New England’ Editors’ Choice Award by Yankee Magazine, and offers the chance to sleep in one of cozy bedrooms in the farmhouse and participate in farm jobs, if you’d like. A few of the options including milking the cows, picking wild blackberries and sweet corn, collecting eggs and filling baskets in the apple orchard. If you’d rather play, you can enjoy tubing down the White River in the summer and skiing at Sugarbush or Killington in the winter. Cross-country skiing in the Green Mountain National Forest is just steps away.
Holualoa Inn - Holualoa, Hawaii
Coffee lovers who’d like to spend time in the tropics are sure to love Holualoa Inn, a working coffee estate. It offers the chance to take advantage of fantastic, pre-dawn surf conditions at some of the Big Island’s best beaches and indulge in tasty java in addition to all types of other watersports like snorkeling, diving and kayaking. Set on Mount Hualalai, 1,400 feet above sea level, this picturesque inn is located on 30 lush acres dotted with tropical fruit trees like pineapple, papaya and avocado, as well as brilliant flower gardens and over 5,100 Kona Coffee trees. This farm stay is more for those who are seeking a “Zen” experience, rather than taking part in farm work. Enjoy taking in spectacular Pacific views from your veranda as well as sumptuous breakfast, 100% estate brewed Kona coffee and scenic walking trails.
Bluebell Croft - Strontian, Scotland
Bluebell Croft offers an upscale farm stay in the West Highlands of Scotland on the Ardnamurchan Peninsula, surrounded by beautiful countryside. Kids can enjoy meeting the resident ducks, geese, chickens, while adults might want to go birdwatching or on a nature walk. A large sunroom leads to a heavenly hot tub under the stars. The property includes two separate, self-catering units, the four-bedroom Honeysuckle House, which sleeps up to eight, and the two-bedroom Rose Cottage, which sleeps two to four guests.
Milia Mountain Retreat - Crete, Greece
Milia Mountain Retreat offers the chance to immerse yourself in nature and enjoy getting back to the basics in a relaxed atmosphere with home-cooked meals in an environment that was created to replicate traditions of the past. This 17th-century mountain settlement located in the Kissamos area of Crete has been transformed into an eco-friendly accommodation, with rooms consisting of traditional stone cottages tucked among chestnut trees and plantains. The on-site restaurant serves locally grown seasonal produce, much of it from Milia’s gardens when possible. There is also a wood-fired bread oven and bread-making classes available too. This is a place for seclusion and total serenity, minus the sounds of cars driving by and the buzzing of the telephone – just the songs of the birds and a gentle breeze through the trees.
The Brown Horse Inn - Lake District, England
This recently refurbished 1850s coaching inn sits across a farming estate overlooking Winster Valley in the heart of the Lake District just to the south of Lake Windermere, an especially tranquil area with picturesque scenery. It features en-suite bedrooms in the main house as well as family-friendly cottages. Guests can learn about organic farming, help with vegetable picking, feed animals, including everything from ducks to pigs, or even try pheasant plucking. All meals are made up of ingredients from the land, with tasty breakfasts featuring homemade sausage, eggs and bacon.
Manor Farm - Evesham, England
Manor Farm offers the chance to stay on a 200-acre working farm, enjoying a peaceful stay in the countryside as well as to take courses at the farm’s state-of-the-art cookery school just a short walk away. You can also try your luck at fishing, with two sections of the Warwickshire Avon River, about one-mile in length as well as seven well-stocked ponds, right on the property. There are even a 9-hole and 18-hole golf course right on site. The accommodation comes in the form of a felt of caravans, which offers double glazing and central heating.
Tyddyn Du Farm Luxury Suites - Ffestiniog, Wales
This organic sheep farm is located in the heart of Snowdonia National Park, an 838-square-mile park renowned for its scenic beauty, including mountains, forests, lakes, rivers and waterfalls, in Wales. It’s an idyllic spot, complete with miniature Shetland ponies for petting or walking, sheep, alpacas, pygmy goats, lambs, chicken and ducks. Feed the animals and collect the eggs, then return to luxurious, stylish accommodations in spacious barn suites equipped with lots of upscale amenities, including Jacuzzi baths, fluffy towels and bathrobes, deluxe toiletries and even individual gardens and patio windows that overlook the mountains or countryside. You can also enjoy indulging in delicious farmhouse breakfast, using locally-sourced ingredients, including local pork sausages, bacon and the farm’s own free-range eggs.
Fattoria Barbialla Nuova - Tuscany, Italy
At Fattoria Barbialla Nuova you’ll find an idyllic escape that feels as if you’re world’s away from the chaos of the city, yet it’s just an hour from Florence, Siena and Pisa in the heart of Tuscany. Your friendly hosts believe in Slow Food, and offer pasta-making demos, bread-making lessons, guided truffle hunts and even an introductory course to bee-keeping. This working farm produces everything from cherries, olives and figs to wild herbs, and also has its own herd of rare breed chianine cattle, while the woods are home to wild boar and badgers. In season, you can accompany the hosts in hunting for the rare white truffles that grow on the estate. In the summertime, you can take a dip in one of the swimming pools or the lake, though you’ll enjoy spectacular views across the Tuscan countryside all year round.
Farm Sanctuary - Watkins Glen, New York
The Farm Sanctuary is a 175-acre rural oasis in the picturesque Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York, where guests can make friends with sheep, pigs, cows, chickens and others who are rescued from factory farming, slaughterhouses and other desperate situations. B&B guests stay in spacious cabins overlooking the sanctuary, with the opportunity to completely immerse themselves in the farm experience, learning about issues farm animals are facing and even bond with some of the rescued animals. Guests can pitch in to help with chores if they’d like, browse the Visitor Center or just revel in the companionship of the farm animals. A hot vegan breakfast is included in your stay, with items like a tofu scramble and home fries along with coffee, tea, juice and fruit. As the sanctuary is located near some of New York’s most beautiful countryside, you’ll also have access to miles of hiking trails, gorges and waterfalls as well as quite a few wineries.
Ballyknocken House - County Wicklow, Ireland
Ballyknocken is one of Ireland’s best-known farmhouses, as the home base for Irish TV chef and food writer, Catherine Fulvio. She runs her cookery school in an old milking parlor right on the 350-acre farm. It was her mother who opened one of Ireland’s first farm stays back in the 1960s, and Catherine is carrying on the tradition in her four-star guesthouse, complete with gourmet evening meals. The house features seven charming bedrooms, some with Victorian roll-top baths. You can take courses at the cookery school or just enjoy scenic walks in the area with its gorgeous deep valleys and glistening lakes, domed granite mountains and picturesque coastline.
Abbey Road Farm - Carlton, Oregon
Abbey Road Farm is located in the heart of Oregon wine country in Willamette Valley. One of the most unique B&Bs in the U.S., three converted grain silos make up the farm’s “Silo Suites.” The farm combines local food and wine, arts and culture, providing an ideal environment for aspiring oenophiles to taste some of the best pinot noir’s during the day and enjoy music at its outdoor concert pavilion in the evening. The circular guestrooms are designed for comfort, boasting plush king beds, Jacuzzi tubs, and radiant floor heat. With the help from Abbey Road’s concierge service, guests can choose to take trips to nearby wineries and eateries, or help out with low impact chores and learn to make goat cheese. The tasting room features flights and pours made on location under the Abbey Road Farm and Wilkens Family labels. The property was planted with almost 40 acres of grapes including 15 different varietals.
North Country Farms - Kilauea, Kauai, Hawaii
North Country Farms offers another fantastic farm stay option in Hawaii, this one on the north shore of the peaceful island of Kauai across three acres of orchards and gardens. Guests not only enjoy complimentary boogie boards, beach towels, beach chairs and books, but they’re encouraged to pick their own organic fruits and vegetables that include bananas, oriental steaming greens, and, of course, pineapples. You’ll stay in a hand-crafted wooden cottage that blends beautifully with the tropical setting and features a kitchenette for indoor cooking as well as a lanai for grilling. You can watch the working organic farm in action or just relax with a good book in one of the hammocks.
Varzea da Goncala - Algarve, Portugal
This 20-acre permaculture farm is set along the west Algarve coast of Portugal, famous for its amazing surf beaches. The farm produces fresh, seasonal, organic fruit and vegetables, as well as eggs, all farmed within an ecosystem of native holm oaks, carobs, loquats and olives. Ideal for families, as kids will find lots of places to play and explore, including a paddling pool, sand-pit and play area with ropes, swings, slides, climbing frames and an incredible treehouse. Everyone will love swimming in the adjacent river during the summertime, or visiting the nearby beaches. If you’re interested in learning about the inner workings of the farm, the Lewis family will show you around and let you in on permaculture works as well as various projects. A communal space offers an area for guests and residents to share music, food and experiences.