Have your milk and meet the cow too at one of the many farm stays across America. And there's no better time than now, as the local food movement intensifies and more and more people want to connect what grows in the field to what winds up on their fork. Farmers producing everything from flowers to fleece are opening their barn doors to give experience seekers the chance to escape the city and spend a night or two down on the farm.
Farm stays run the gamut from rustic, down-and-dirty digs to peaceful, even luxurious, country retreats. Here are 10 great places to hit the hay for different types of travelers:
Great for Localvores… Liberty Hill Farm Inn (Rochester, Vermont)
Nothing says Vermont like a bright red barn on a hill and a pasture of Holstein dairy cows. And few farms are as idyllic as Liberty Hill. For years, Beth Kennett has invited a wide range of visitors into her home, including families, older folks, and young couples wanting to connect to their food source. Anyone can give a hand with milking cows or helping to prepare fields for planting. When it's time for a break, many take scenic drives up Route 100 to sample Vermont cheeses, such as those from Cabot Creamery where Liberty Hill supplies milk. The 1825 farmhouse has seven country guest rooms, and Beth cooks family-style breakfasts and dinners with local and seasonal foods: Think baked oatmeal with maple syrup and fresh rhubarb pie.
$90 per adult, per night ($50 per child); open year-round; libertyhillfarm.com
Great for Families… Hull-O Farms (Durham, New York)
Bottle-feeding baby calves and nanny goats. Collecting just-laid eggs. Playing with puppies and barn kittens. Is this farm school or kid heaven? At Hull-O, the answer is both. Families of all ages can experience country life in the Catskills at this historic farm founded in 1779 by the Hull family. After a day of hands-on EdVenture, kids can enjoy a hayride in the fields or romp through a late-summer corn maze. Farmer Frank and his wife Sherry Hull serve homemade dinners in the farmhouse and end evenings with toasted marshmallows around a bonfire. After spending the night in one of three private guest houses, guests wake every morning to farm-fresh breakfasts like buttermilk pancakes with real maple syrup and sweet cream butter.
$130 per adult, per night ($50-$75 for kids 2-14); open May 15 – October 31; hull-o.com
Great for Couples… Abbey Road Farm Bed & Breakfast (Carlton, Oregon)
Seeking a different pace of life, owners John and Judi Stuart left Las Vegas behind and brought the best of their hospitality know-how to Abbey Road Farm, set in the heart of wine country in Oregon's Willamette Valley. Modeled after European agritourism establishments, the farm integrates local food, wine, arts, and culture, creating an environment where aspiring oenophiles can taste some of the world's finest pinot noirs by day and enjoy music at an outdoor concert pavilion by night. And this is not your grandfather's farm experience. Set in a converted silo, the circular guestrooms are designed for comfort, with plush king beds, Jacuzzi tubs, and radiant floor heat. Guests can choose trips to nearby wineries and restaurants with help from the farm's concierge service, or stay back to assist with low impact chores or learn to make goat cheese.