Is Vacationing on a Farm the Healthy Getaway You Need?

Cow standing in the field

When we think of vacation, we think of sipping mai tais on the beach of a far-off tropical location with the scent of sunscreen lingering in the salty air. That, or a jaunt to a new city we’ve been meaning to check off of our travel hit list for a while. What we most certainly do not think of is feeding cattle and forking bales of hay.

All of which is to say, plain and simple, that working on a farm is hardly what comes to mind when you try to picture a dream vacation. After all, agricultural labor has broken many a back and probably doesn’t sound like the most relaxing way to spend a trip – especially if you’re someone who’s already working out on the reg. But, believe it or not, a little trip to a farm might be exactly the kind of r&r your body needs.

Basically, in our increasingly urban and technologically-centered lives, we get so caught up in everything that we start to lose our connection to nature and the feeling of just being present. Taking a vacation to a farm, though, can fix that.

A farm vacay is similar to spending some time at a nice little bed & breakfast that’s removed from the hustle and bustle of the city. (Oh, quaint, okay.) It just comes with the added feature of helping out with daily chores such as feeding livestock, weeding gardens, cleaning barns, and the like. (Okay, not quaint.) But with the chores, you can actually find yourself reaping quite a few benefits for your physical, mental, and emotional health, all of which were the reason for wanting to go on vacation in the first place, right?

For starters, there’s the obvious benefit of all the exercise you’ll get herding cows and harvesting hay, and the vitamin D and serotonin boost from spending time in the sun and fresh air. Additionally, having contact with animals stimulates four of the five senses and releases oxytocin, which makes you feel happy. In fact, studies have shown that these inter-species interactions can work such wonders as lowering blood pressure and stress levels, and improving moods.

Looking at the big picture, spending your vacation on a farm is a great way to make connections with what you put into your body, and to become more mindful of your own footprint on the earth and the role you play within it. You are actually seeing your food grow, participating in and fostering its well-being, and experiencing firsthand the cycles that nature eternally repeats.

Plus, if you have children, this can be the perfect opportunity to teach them about where their food comes from, the natural processes of life, and about what affects their actions have on the natural world around them. Not to mention that playing with baby animals is a ton of fun. For children and adults alike, a farm vacation is a perfect way to detach from the screens that rule our lives and “unplug” for a short while. After all, pigs and sunshine need no batteries.

When it comes to planning your farm vacation, it’s important to note that not all farm stays are created equal. Some options don’t call for you to do any work at all and offer things like hayrides and spa treatments. Others, such as the WWOOF program, are exchange-based and will compensate guests for their help with free room and board and a farm-fresh meal.

To help you find the right spot for you, we did a little digging into some of the best farm getaways across the country. Read on to learn more:

Farm Sanctuary

Watkins Glen, NY; Orland, CA; and Los Angeles, CA

Farm Sanctuary is sort of like an animal shelter. It rescues animals that were formerly abused and gives them a new life full of open space, yummy grass and loving guests. Here, you can spend a weekend volunteering and learning about the workings of farm life among 700 (adorable) rescued animals.

Leaping Lamb Farm

Alsea, Oregon

Forty miles from the ocean, you have the option to stay in a farm house or cottage and collect eggs, feed animals, or otherwise choose which chores suit you best; or none at all. They also encourage sourcing eggs and produce from the farm for your breakfast, which you make yourself.

The Greer Farm

Daingerfield, TX

This farm features lakefront cabins, where you can pick your own berries and fish to your heart’s content. They offer cooking classes and private dining for the full farm-to-table experience.

Smithfield Farm

Berryville, VA

Located on the edge of the Shenandoah Valley, this luxurious B&B offers hiking, biking, and some of the finest grass-fed meats.