Tango Diva : Travel Stories for Women, by Women

July 22nd, 2010
California: Take a vacation from life with a farmstay

Seeking an escape from the hectic, crowded cities, vacationers flock to the gorgeous countryside of Italy to experience of the rural lifestyles of Italian farmers. Coined by the term agriturismo (a combination of agriculture and tourism), these farmhouse vacations give visitors the opportunity to live life on the farm, participating in daily chores and experiencing the rural side of Italy. This booming branch of tourism has gained popularity in recent years, attracting people from all over the world.

Recently, the trend has crossed the Atlantic and all over the East Coast, traditional farms are opening their doors for guests to  experience a different lifestyle. But what about all of us over here on the West Coast? For those of you who cant afford to jet away to the East Coast, let alone Italy, you’re in luck. Several farm stay vacations have started to spring up throughout California, offering western guests another option of how to spend their vacation time.

Plantation Farm Camp: Experience the great outdoors the way it should be. Spend a weekend or full week living outdoors, with no electricity, while you work on a sustainable farm. Plantation Farm Camp provides summer programs for families and individuals to experience farm life. Each camper becomes an integral part of the functioning farm, completing daily chores while tending the organic gardens and caring for the animals. The farm is located approximately 90 miles north of San Francisco in the coastal Sonoma redwoods. In addition to farm style living, the camp also offers a variety of day time activities including hiking, swimming, horseback riding and kayaking. Tuition for adults is $675 for a weekend and $1,100 for a week, and $500 for children for a weekend and $850 for a week. Grab the family for a summer vacation, discover a love for the outdoors and get your hands dirty.

Rinconada Dairy: Drive through rolling ranch lands on your way to Rinocanada dairy in Santa Margarita, where you will learn how to live life on a dairy farm. Eat a gourmet homemade breakfast cooked by your host Christine Maguire, a graduate of the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York City.  After a bite, spend the day exploring the farm. Work in the organic garden, observe cheese making, feed the sheep and goats and help in a milking or lambing. Located in the coastal hills of San Luis Obispo County, the farm also boasts amazing bird watching, 52 acres of farmland perfect for exploring and gorgeous sprawling gardens. At $150 a night, this farm stay will give you a taste of farm life at an inexpensive price.

Emandal: Discover the perfect vacation getaway from the hustle and bustle of city life. With redwood cabins, a flower infused vegetable garden and star studded night time skies, Emandal is a vacation that will help clear your mind. This camp truly operates in a family style. With no burdensome schedule, families are welcome to be as active or inactive as they wish. The camp welcomes help on the farm including egg gathering, cow milking, harvesting vegetables and a variety of other daily tasks. The operators of the camp serve three meals a day, with every thing made from scratch. Emandal is located in Willits, California, approximately 140 miles north of San Francisco. Camp rates start at $77 for toddlers and range to $298 for an adult for a two night stay, with prices increasing depending on the length of your visit. Visit this thriving farm and take a much-deserved break from every day life.

Most of these farms produce organic, all natural food in an effort to maintain a sustainable lifestyle. But these healthy options are also available elsewhere. While traveling has its advantages, eating restaurant food can become tiresome. Seeking out the local farmers market or culinary tours can help to spice up your menu. Travel writer Pamela Irving reveals the best ways to find fresh food markets while on the road, providing tips and locations that any health conscious travel will appreciate. Click here to get the inside scoop.

Only have a day to play? Visit the Farm Sanctuary in Orland, California. Take a tour of the farm, pet the animals and get an idea of how a farm functions. Read about Jennifer Anthony’s experience here.

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