City Slickers on Holiday
Agritourism offers family fun on a working farm or ranch
“Agritourism” is a new buzz word and growing niche in the travel industry. Authentic working farms and ranches have opened their doors to allow city slickers a chance to experience country life first-hand, including optional pitching in with the daily chores (if only junior would clean up the toys with the same enthusiasm as feeding the pigs!).
Some enterprises operate like rustic rural B & Bs while other are luxury lodges with pool, spa and gourmet meals thrown in. You decide how “real” you want the experience to be.
For many kids, a farm stay or dude ranch is more appealing than a five-star resort. It’s got all the required elements – wide open spaces, fresh air, horses, cows, chickens and other animals, farmers, tractors and more.
Young cowpokes will revel in the wild west experience of a guest ranch, complete with real live cowboys and cowgirls on hand! Usually horse riding, cow milking and produce picking are part and parcel of the experience. You might even get to help round up the cattle, shear sheep and collect freshly laid eggs (you mean they don’t come from cartons?).
So if you want to give your family a taste of hearty food, genuine hospitality and some hands-on animal interaction, consider a trip to a farm or ranch. Just don’t expect peace and quiet in your urban escape – those barnyard animals really know how to make some noise.
A fun, fresh, educational experience for your child to learn about the hard work that goes on behind the supermarket scenes on the food chain.
Some kids may be apprehensive about some of the animals. The early-to-rise aspect of farm life may not appeal. Depending on the age of your child, there might be too much information revealed about farm life (for example, sheep shearing can get kind of rough and a lot of the barnyard critters are being prepared for slaughter).
All ages can benefit from a little rural immersion. Small children will be enchanted by seeing the ducks, roosters and ponies from their picture books live in three dimensions. Big kids will love the trail rides and countrified adventure of it all.
Go on, get dirty!
A willing attitude – children will be inspired to dig in and participate if parents do. Pack some rubber boots and comfy clothes you don’t mind getting a little mucky.
Mowbray Park Farm Holidays, Picton, NSW, Australia. A little over an hour outside Sidney, your child can help milk the cows, feed the livestock (including ‘roos!), shear sheep and ride horses along with classic Aussie activities like boomerangs, bushwalks and billy tea.
Bosinver Farm Cottages, Cornwall, UK. Stay in a thatched farmhouse while the kids enjoy animal feeding, pony rides and a special toddler play barn.
Liberty Hill Farm, Vermont. This real working family-run dairy farm has opened its doors for an authentic agritourism experience.
Three Bars Cattle and Guest Ranch, Cranbrook, BC, Canada. Slip on a stetson and play cowboy/cowgirl on your vacation. Check out their horseback riding programs.
Bar W Guest Ranch, Whitefish, Montana. Set in the heart of Big Sky Country, this ranch has well developed kids programs that’ll allow your little wrangler to help with the feeding, grooming and saddling of the horses, while you enjoy some grown-up fun.