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 15 options provide something for just about everyone.
Liberty Hill Farm, Rochester, Vermont (prices & photos)
Liberty Hill Farm offers a unique Vermont farm vacation that feels as if it’s straight out of a children’s book – though 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 seven 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, Hawaii (prices & photos)
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, Ardnamurchan, Scotland (prices & photos)
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, pig and Jersey cow, while adults might want to take one of the courses in home smoking, fungi foraging or cooking. Owner Sukie Barber, a rural chef of the year, will treat you to her incredible meals including five-course dinners made with lots of home-grown organic fruits and vegetables. A large sun room leads to a heavenly hot tub under the stars, and you’ll also find a smokehouse, available for preordering everything from whole baked ham to smoked salmon. 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 (prices & photos)
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 onsite restaurant serves locally grown seasonal produce, much it from Milia’s onsite 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.
Royalla Luxury Farmstay, New South Wales, Australia
Royalla Luxury Farmstay offers the ultimate working farm holiday, ideal for urbanites who want the experience of farming but don’t want to forgo creature comforts. Located just outside Robertson in the New South Wales Southern Highlands, which happens to be the filming location of “Babe,” it offers bucolic views over rolling hills to the ocean and beyond. Three separate buildings, the Loveshack, Om Barn and Farmhouse, offer rustic yet chic interiors along with luxurious extras like iPod docking stations. The late 19th-century farmhouse features a French dining table for memorable meals including a hearty breakfast of eggs, which you can even collect yourself, fresh bread, homemade preserve and bacon. There are two cozy fireplaces, two lavish bathrooms with heated floors – one with an Italian wooden bath, a children’s room and a gorgeous country kitchen. Guests can take part in seasonal activities, including caring for baby animals in the spring, potato harvesting and blackberry picking.
The Brown Horse Inn, Lake District, England (prices & photos)
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 nine en-suite bedrooms in the main house as well as two family-friendly cottages. Guests can hang out and help owner Steven Edmonson for the chance to 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. If you find yourself working a little too hard, accommodation includes free use of the Low Wood Spa and Leisure Club where you can indulge in relaxing treatments and soak in the outdoor hot tub.
Manor Farm, Evesham, Worcestershire, England (prices & photos)
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 is even a 9-hole and 18-hole golf course right onsite.
Tyddyun-du Farm, Ffestiniog, Wales (prices & photos)
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. 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’ll 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 (prices & photos)
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, Guido and his helpers, 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 Guido as he goes hunting for the rare white truffles that grow on the estate. In the summer time, 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.
Rainbow Nature Resort, Tobago (prices & photos)
A stay on a chocolate farm is a fantasy come true for many, and the Rainbow Nature Resort in Tobago, is a working farm that produces cocoa as well as a range of other crops like sugar cane, bamboo, pineapples, oranges, plums and other fruits. Guests are welcome to pick and use them throughout their stay. While not certified organic, the farm uses no inorganic fertilizers and only natural weed suppression techniques. Farm tours, educating visitors about the benefits of organic farming, and even cooking lessons on traditional Tobagonian dishes like curries, salt fish Accra and calaloo soups may be an option. You’ll find lots to do nearby as well, including waterholes and waterfalls. The property sits at the foot of Main Ridge, the oldest protected rainforest in the Western Hemisphere, home to 210 species of birds as well as magical Rainbow and Twin River Waterfalls. Accommodations are in the renovated cocoa dry house, with a movable copra tray roof, tastefully furnished guest rooms with private bathrooms as well as hot and cold spring water. Each room also offers a view of the beautiful, tropical environment.
Farm Sanctuary, Watkins Glen, New York (prices & photos)
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 (prices & photos)
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 (prices & photos)
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.
North Country Farms, Kilauea, Kauai, Hawaii (prices & photos)
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 (prices & photos)
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.