When you think about a vacation it often involves relaxing poolside or experiencing different cultures and unique attractions in a foreign country. And, while either of those activities can serve as a fun escape from the day-to-day grind, there’s a growing trend in the travel industry for more meaningful and purposeful vacations. Consequently, agrotourism is one of the industry’s fastest-growing sectors.
Put simply, agrotourism refers to vacationing at a farm and, oftentimes, helping with the harvest. It allows travelers the opportunity to connect with nature and experience first-hand what it’s like living on a farm. Annie Willis explained the appeal of agrotourism to National Geographic for a 2019 feature.
“We’ve done Italian holidays that don’t involve anything more testing than sightseeing or lying by a pool, and felt it was time for something different, which was also educational,” Willis said of her and her husband’s prior vacations. “We love Italy, and wanted to connect with the people and landscape on a more profound level than simply as tourists. We’ll have lunch with the family daily, so we can practice our Italian, and helping with the harvest feels like a positive thing to do.”
Agrotourism is big in Europe, but it is becoming increasingly popular in the United States. Below are five of the most vacation-friendly farms in the country.
1. The Jungle Farmhouse (Hawaii)
Located in Pahoa, Hawaii, The Jungle Farmhouse combines a typical farm stay with an island vacation experience. Guests stay in cottages in the Hawaiian jungle that accommodate up to eight people and include modern conveniences such as satellite TV and Wi-Fi. However, they can also engage in a variety of farming activities.
This includes eating fresh, organic eggs from the farm’s hens as well as plucking bananas, pineapple, avocados, and papaya from its trees. The farm also has baby goats and miniature pigs, while the 2.5-acre plot of land in the Hawaiian jungle is home to a variety of native birds and exotic plants.
Those looking to explore surrounding areas can visit the Historic Pahoa Village, which is about a mile from The Jungle Farmhouse. Known for its wooden sidewalks and eclectic shops, the village also includes attractions such as farmers’ markets, galleries, and a public swimming pool. The Jungle Farmhouse is also close to Kehena Black Sand Beach and a 45-minute drive from Volcanoes National Park.
2. Wildwood Farm B&B (Washington)
Those who love horses and horseback riding, in particular, will enjoy their stay at Wildwood Farm Bed & Breakfast on Whidbey Island in Washington State. The 80-acre farm, 90 miles north of Seattle, has bred thoroughbred horses for more than 50 years and offers horseback riding lessons.
It has two indoor areas and an outdoor arena for riding in addition to a saddlery and tack store. In addition, Whidbey Island offers peaceful escapes in nature with an abundance of green fields and forests. Hiking and canoeing are popular activities on the island.
3. Zion Mountain Ranch (Utah)
Stargazing is a popular activity at Zion Mountain Ranch, located 6,000 feet high up in Utah’s canyon country. Stars shine bright here in the clear night skies, but that’s far from the only reason to visit the ranch, which borders Zion National Park and is also in close proximity to Bryce National Park. The ranch itself is known for its roaming herd of buffalo and horses. The site also features a small organic farm with various vegetable plots, hens and chickens, and an orchard.
4. Los Poblanos (New Mexico)
An historic inn and organic farm in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Los Poblanos features 25 acres of greenery including lavender fields and lush formal gardens. Guests can expect a signature New Mexico vacation as the resort was designed in 1932 by architect John Gaw Meem, also known as the “Father of Santa Fe Style.” Its farm suites, some of which have private patios, are inspired by historic dairy buildings and boast clean and modern interiors.
Animals at the farm include peacocks, alpacas, and Churro sheep, while guests can enjoy field-to-fork dining from the award-winning kitchen staff at the on-site Campo restaurant. Other amenities include the Hacienda Spa, Farm Foods Market, and fitness rooms. Guests can also take self-guided tours of local trails on one of the cruiser bicycles available for rent.
5. Blackberry Farm (Tennessee)
Those looking for a more luxurious farm stay vacation should consider Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee. The 4,200-acre estate offers a range of activities including cooking demos, gardening workshops, and tasting tours. Yet, visitors seeking a more authentic agrotourism experience can also take part in various farming activities on its grounds.
An ideal destination for foodies, the farm has on-site chefs, a master gardener, cheesemaker, forager, butcher, and sommelier, among other artisans. Everything harvested at the farm is incorporated into its delicious dishes, while sumac and sour cherries, among other items, are used at the brewery to create award-winning spirits.