Imagine a family vacation where instead of playing Angry Birds, your child frolicked with chickens. And instead of eating out, you picked veggies from a field and cooked them on a wood-burning stove. This kind of pure, unplugged fun is what you get at Kinnikinnick Farm.
The working farm, located an hour-and-a-half northwest of Chicago in Caledonia, Illinois, welcomes visitors for overnight stays. While lots of places claim to offer escapes from the urban shuffle, this one really means it. Here in the country, you can really get back to basics. Bunk up in oversized, wood-floored tents and spend your days doing fun jobs around the farm. There’s also plenty of time to relax, explore nature and eat healthy, home-cooked meals.
The 100-acre destination is run by David Cleverdon and his wife, Susan. It’s one of only three U.S. spots that are part of the network of Feather Down Farms, a farm-stay program that started in Europe.
Visits kick off with tours of the farm led by the Cleverdons. Then you can dive into any number of activities: picking eggs, feeding pigs, milking goats and harvesting vegetables. When the kids need to cut loose, the open fields are theirs to roam. They won’t miss the monkey bars at the playground back home once they get caught up playing tag among the trees and hills.
Carve out time to take a hike or ask for a lift around the property by tractor. When night falls, retreat to your tent to enjoy family time by candlelight or the soft glow of fireflies.
Preparing and eating meals are big parts of the Kinnikinnic Farm experience. Each tent is stocked with a pioneer-style wood-burning stove and kitchen tools. That way, you can wake up in the morning and cook omelettes made from eggs you just picked. Or put together veggie salads using the latest crops (the farm grows carrots, beets, asparagus and more).
If you don’t find what you need in the field, head to the onsite “honesty shop,” which sells organic produce and some non-food essentials. The Cleverdons also organize a pizza night during every stay. With their help, you’ll make and bake your own pizzas and cook them on the farm’s stove or outdoor grill.
Surrounding the main barn and the Cleverdon’s home, there are five big tents that can hold up to six people. These shabby-chic outposts are a cross between a log cabin and classic tent (their roofs are canvas and floors are pine wood). Inside, a wood-burning stove is used for cooking, as well as heating. Sleeping options include a canopy bed, two bunk beds and a queen-sized bed. You’ll have to fend without electricity, but the kitchenette has running water and candles to light up the tent. An insulated chest functions as refrigerator.
There is a two-night minimum to book a stay at Kinnikinnic Farm. Rates range from $525-$615 per two-night stay. The season lasts from mid-May through mid-October. For reservations, go online to featherdown.com.
21123 Grade School Rd.
Would you go to Kinnikinnic Farm? Let us know in the Comments section below.
— Kelly Aiglon
Photos: Courtesy of Feather Down Farms