Ready to slow it down, way down? A farmstay might be right up your alley! They offer a relaxed pace that’s perfect for families looking to get away plus interaction with tons of furry and feathered animals. Read on for some nearby faves where you can play Old MacDonald.
Mar Vista Cottages—Mendocino
Twelve well-equipped cottages rest on this idyllic Mendocino coast farm. Kids of all ages are welcome to be part of the farm’s daily routines. It’s short walk to one of the most beautiful beaches in all of North America, Anchor Bay Beach. Swing on the rope swing, pet the goats, gather eggs from the chickens and enjoy your time away from the TV (although there is WiFi if you need it). Make sure you spend some time lying on the grass and enjoying all the stars that you aren't able to see when close to the city. Frogs by the pond will lull you to sleep.
Read our Mendocino travel story for more ideas of what to do in the area.
35101 South Highway 1
Rent the massive 5-bedroom, 4-bathroom Big House on the Stepladder Creamery property and you'll get the ultimate in farmstay experiences—friendly goats to get to know and the goat cheese to go along with it. Take a tour of the property while you are there to learn all about the special breed of Lamancha goats that make their home there and all that goes in to making this tasty treat.
Read more about what do to when you are in Cambria here.
4450 San Simeon Creek Road
Bar SZ Ranch—Paicines
Bar SZ Ranch is a real, working farm two hours south of San Francisco in the breathtaking hills of San Benito county. Stay in one of the two houses or the cabin (all are 3-bed/2-bath and perfect for families), or reserve the whole ranch for your next family reunion. They also recently added two glamping cottages, the Cowboy Village, that sleep up to 16.
If you are an early riser, meet up with a farm hand to feed the horses and cattle. Brush and saddle your own horse or get expert help from the staff. Learn some new skills like roping a steer or shooting a bow and arrow. Then, relax by the fire roasting marshmallows after a full day with the family. You will feel far away from it all!
10001 Willow Creek Road
Lucky Goat Farm—Big Sur
This stunning farm with ocean views near Big Sur loves to host families with kids of all ages. Each morning they begin the day milking the goats, making cheese, checking the troughs and watering the gardens. In spring months the pens are full of baby goats. The cabin is a spacious two bedrooms with a full kitchen and washer/dryer and extra sleeping space in the loft.
PO Box 395
Big Sur, CA
Casa de la Pradera—Fiddletown
Casa de la Pradera is a secluded European-style bed and breakfast in the Sierra foothills. It is also a small working CSA (community supported agriculture) farm that produces vegetables, herbs, apples, olives and eggs for subscribers and local farmers markets. Children are welcome to feed the chickens, help collect eggs and help pick vegetables in the gardens. You will hear nothing but frogs at night, and birds awakening you in the morning. Breakfast, served in the kitchen or under the oaks in the garden, is made with the freshest, locally and naturally grown meats, eggs and produce. Afternoon tea and refreshments are served in the garden. Walk into town for some amazing Engilsh toffee at Brown's.
P.O. Box 66
Howard Creek Ranch—Westport
Howard Creek Ranch is an historic 60-acre, ocean-front farm bordered by miles of beach and mountains on the beautiful Mendocino Coast. The Ranch offers farm animals, a 75-foot swinging foot bridge over Howard Creek, hot tubs and horseback riding on the beach or in the mountains. Reserve a room in the historic carriage house or farmhouse. You can also get your own ocean-front cottage or cabin in the woods.
40501 North Highway 1
Beltane Ranch—Glen Ellen
Accommodations at this luxurious Sonoma working ranch include five spacious rooms in the historic two-story main house and the separate cottage with private garden. Walking trails lead past grazing horses and cattle, through the ranch's vineyards, olive orchards and the sustainably-farmed produce gardens that supply the kitchen for each morning's breakfasts. Email them in advance and they'll have a bottle of estate wine ready for you to enjoy upon arrival.
11775 Sonoma Highway
P.O. Box 1217
Glen Ellen, CA
The Apple Farm—Philo
Over 40 varieties of apples grow on this farm in Mendocino County. Families are welcome to stay in one of the four guest cottages that each have a queen bed, large bathroom and a porch to enjoy the sunset on. A stay at the farm comes with morning breakfast of coffee, yogurt and granola, plus toast or biscuits, served with the farm's own apple juice and jams. Grown-ups looking to brush up on their culinary game can come for one of the farm's "stay and cook" events where guests join in the preparation of a communal meal with vegetables from the farm's garden and then stay overnight in a cottage. If you are in the area but can't spend the night, swing by and purchase some of the farm's wares from their farm stand.
18501 Greenwood Road
Fying Pig Bed & Breakfast—San Martin
Stay in the cabin at this South Bay farm (sleeps 4) or bring your tent for more outdoor time. Everyone who stays overnight gets to enjoy a full breakfast complete with fresh eggs and as much time with the farm animals as you'd like. Wake up to sheep and goats outside your door with a view of the pasture. They love kids here and even host a summer camp for future farmers!
Bodega Goat Ranch—Bodega
Come spend the night on a sustainably-farmed goat ranch where they have been making nationally-acclaimed goat cheese for 30 years. Enjoy stunning views, a fabulous garden and a variety of animals. Your visit can include a tour, cheese tasting and even full breakfast. The farm is located 10 minutes from the town of Bodega Bay, made famous by Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds.
Where do you go to overnight with the animals? Give it a shout-out in the comments!
—Kate Loweth & Sonia Gandiaga