Many family farms across the United States and abroad offer affordable family accommodations and an opportunity to become entrenched in the day-to-day activities of a farm.
Wait – a vacation? On a family farm?
Yes, you are reading correctly. Families with a desire to have a more hands-on vacation, as well as an escape to a simpler, slower pace, may enjoy the family farm atmosphere.
What is a farm stay?
A farm vacation will allow your family to experience life on a farm. Some offer hands-on activities, such as feeding the animals or collecting eggs. Some have modern amenities (like Wi-Fi), while others have a more rustic feel. Some offer meals, while others offer in-room kitchens to cook your own meals. A bit of research beforehand will ensure the farm’s accommodations match your family’s vacation style.
Just like their hotel or resort counterparts, not all farm stays are created equal. A great site for finding a location near you, amenities, and general information is www.farmstayus.com.
Ready to put on your cowboy boots? We've evaluated the rates at farms in different parts of the United States based on this month’s Macaroni Kid Family Travel budget challenge - a vacation costing $1,500 or less for a family of four. We chose locations in different parts of the country to ensure that farm stays are a budget travel option for all areas. Here’s how the farm vacations stack up, each based on a two-night stay:
- Accommodations/Activities: Hoehn Bend is a small, working farm that offers lodging in a three-bedroom farm house on the property. Guests have access to the entire farm house, which comfortably sleeps six guests and is equipped with a small television and DVD player, board games, and toys.
- Guests can also assist with farm chores, feed animals, collect eggs, or ride one of three miniature donkeys.
- Rates: With rates of $175/night for up to six people (or $350), this falls well within the $1,500 budget. Keep in mind that meals are not included (a grocery store and restaurants are nearby).
- Accommodations/Activities: Mountain Dale is a real, working farm situated on 175 acres of land. Bird watching is a popular activity on the farm, and visitors, especially children, enjoy pitching in to help with farm chores. Depending on the season, visitors can also enjoy hiking or cross-country skiing, a pond for skating or fishing and paddle boating. There are also berries or fossils to gather.
- Mountain Dale offers efficiency cottages, three dormitory cottages, one deluxe cottage, and rooms at the site’s Farm House. All have restrooms, and linens are included with most options.
- Rates: For the farm’s priciest lodging option, rates are $175/night for four adults. Keep in mind, however, that children stay for less – rates are half-off for children under 12, and children 2 and under are free. For the two-night minimum, the $350 room total is well under the $1,500 budget.
Leaping Lamb Farm, Alsea, Oregon
- Accomodations/Activities: As with so many farms that have opened their doors to share the farm experience, farmers Scottie and Greg abondoned city leaving for Oregon farm country. Believing that "many people might like to have a farm experience without buying the farm (literally)," and that "being on a farm is good for the soul," guests are invited to join in and lend a hand around the farm. Guests can collect eggs, feed the animals, bottle feed lambs when there are "bottle babies," garden, and brush Paco, a miniature Sicilian donkey. Or just spend the day relaxing on the farm porch.
- Rates: $250/night (including breakfast) in the Farm Stay Cottage that sleeps six.
Trevin Farms, Sudbury, Vermont
- Accommodations/Activities: Guests come to Trevin Farms in West Central Vermont to learn about today’s small farm, milk goats and make cheese. Founded by two chefs who have opened their farm to guests, meals are a highlight with fresh vegetables from the farm, fresh milk from the goats, fresh cheese from their milk and a variety of other products made right on the farm and local area.
- Rates: A two-room suite has two rooms separated by a bath with rates starting at $175/night. Can't leave home without Rover? Bring him along (additional $30). With the cheese making package, guests receive accommodations for two nights, cheese making class, dinner on their second night and breakfast each morning for $550.00 per adult plus an additional $35 charge per child.
Dixie Dude Ranch, Bandera, TexasHave you done a farm stay? Would you consider one? We’d love to hear your thoughts and/or experiences. Let us know in the comments!
- Accommodations/Activities: Dixie Dude Ranch offers cottages, cabins, and rooms, as well as a swimming pool, private restrooms, horseback riding, and three meals per day. There are no televisions in the cabins or rooms, but guests can enjoy a community TV viewing in the “great” room of the ranch’s main building.
- Rates: Many farm stays evaluated have a per-person rate, versus a per-room rate that most hotels offer. The Dixie Dude Ranch is no exception. The adult rate is $140 per person, per night (for two adults). Let's add a child who is age 6-12 for $70, and a teenager (13-16) for $105 per night.
- For the minimum two-night stay, the rate per night is $455, for a total of $910 for the stay (not including tax and gratuity). Considering that meals are included, this price falls well within the $1,500 budget.