Channel your inner Old MacDonald and head to one of these farms where you can spend the night and lend a helping hand
Do you dream of milking a cow named Buttercup? Do you long to gather eggs from a rustic old chicken coop? Does the Green Acres theme song play on a loop in your head? Then a nearby farm stay is just what the doctor ordered. Lucky for you, California features an amazing crop of working farms that are waiting to welcome you and your little city slickers for a vacay unlike any other. Here are some of the best in the state, so giddy up, grab those overalls, and get goin’!
The 12 Best Family-Friendly Farm Stays in Southern California
1. Flip Flop Ranch in Lucerne Valley, CA
Just two hours east of LA in Lucerne Valley, give your kiddos a taste of farm life at Flip Flop Ranch, a beautiful 40-acre working farm that features a bright and airy farmhouse and tons of fun activities for the whole family. After you wake to a friendly “cock-a-doodle-doo” from the resident rooster, take in some fresh air with a leisurely stroll through the surrounding desert, enjoy a memorable goat milking experience, or just spend some social time with the farm’s animals—horses, pigs, cows, lambs, sheep, barn cats, geese, ducks and the many endangered breeds of livestock the farm works hard to conserve.
The house has no Wi-Fi or TV, so it’s a perfect opportunity to pry kids’ eyes away from their screens and have them pick up a good book or jump into a riveting game of Rummikub. With nine beds throughout, there’s plenty of sleeping space for everyone, so bring along friends or extended family! At night, whip up a hearty dinner in the farm’s kitchen with full amenities and don’t forget to step outside for some serious stargazing before bedtime.
Sleeps: 15 guests
2. The Ojai Cowboy Cabin at Rancho Grande, CA
Founded in 1875, this 200-acre Old West ranch invites guests to kick back, relax and enjoy farm living in the forest. This picturesque spot is sustainable, and totally off the grid with no neighbors for miles—perfect for families who are looking for complete privacy (or who are hiding from the mob—fuhgeddaboudit).
The fully furnished, two-bedroom cabin is the center of the ranch and features its own private garden, patio, and barbecue. A small vestibule provides a daybed when extra sleeping space is needed. Guests have full access to all the fun the ranch has to offer – whether it’s picking eggs from the chicken coop or salad from the commercial greenhouse, kayaking on two spring fed ponds, fishing for catfish and blue gill, playing basketball and baseball, cooking s’mores over the firepit, hiking the many forest trails on the property, or enjoying some horseback riding (for an extra fee). Guests are also provided with a Jeep to use during their stay so they can explore the majestic grounds and hillside.
Sleeps: 5 guests
3. Mojave Homestead Ranch in Yucca Valley, CA
Animal loving families will enjoy spending their vacay at the Yucca Valley Mojave Homestead Ranch—a high desert horse rescue. This three-bedroom private home allows visitors to visit with, feed, and groom the property’s rescue horses, mini horses, and donkeys. You can even bring along your own family pet (as long as they’re housebroken). If you feel like doing a little exploring during your stay, you’re only minutes from Joshua Tree National Park, Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown and about 30 minutes from Palm Springs.
Sleeps: 6 guests
4. Morning Song Farm in Rainbow, CA
This peaceful farm stay in the rolling hills of San Diego is one of our nearby favorites. The 20-acre subtropical farm grows year-round and experiments with rare and unusual fruits that can’t be grown without a greenhouse elsewhere. The property has six distinctly different farm stays to choose from—whether you prefer to cozy up in a whimsical one bedroom, bring a larger brood to the Bunny Hill stay that sleeps eight, or catch some zzzz’s in a safari canvas cabin for a truly unique experience.
But the real star is the wide range of unique activities offered to guests—classes in churning handmade ice cream and making jam, butter, and cheeses. Visitors can also gather eggs from chickens, take a relaxing soak in the hot tub, check out a fun mosaic or acrylic swirl painting class, or visit with the goats, alpacas, and peacocks. And you’re near Temecula and Fallbrook if you feel like venturing out for some wine tasting, hot air ballooning, or strawberry picking.
Sleeps: Each farm stay varies in occupancy, but most sleep 4-8 guests depending on what you choose
Price: Starts around $171/night
The Best Northern California Farms Stays for Families
5. Mar Vista Farm & Cottages in Gualala, CA
Life slows down when you visit the charming Mar Vista Farm & Cottages in Mendocino County. The property’s nine acres of land are filled with farm animals, forested trails, harvesting gardens, secluded beach access, and plenty of space for families to play. Cozy and inviting cottages feature all the amenities you need to make your stay comfortable—from bed and bath linens to a kitchen stocked with pots, pans and utensils, and even a fireplace!
During your stay, you can cut fresh flowers from the garden or harvest your own veggies, herbs, and fruits at any time to use for your own cooking. They’ll even deliver farm-fresh eggs directly to your door to use for your morning breakfast. Mar Vista features additional food packages available for delivery as well—hello, picnic basket and s’mores basket! Yum! When you’re done thinking about all that food, families can visit with the farm’s bunnies, feed the goats, collect eggs from the chickens, take a yoga class, or check out “Cottage 13″—a small playhouse for younger guests.
Sleeps: Each cottage varies in occupancy. There are four family cottages than can sleep two adults with three small children max.
Price: Family cottages run $355-$380/night
6. Artistic Farmhouse in Marshall, CA
Just a 5-minute walk from the pristine beaches of Tomales Bay, this artistic farmhouse provides a restorative escape into nature with plenty of fun things to do. Awake to breathtaking bay views of the Point Reyes National Seashore from this two-bedroom getaway. The 23-acre property is host to sheep, deer, and wild turkey – so keep your camera ready. It’s also the perfect place to hike, kayak (BYOK), and go bike riding. If you’re into oysters, you’re in shuck (get it?) as Nick’s Cove and Hog Island Oysters are just minutes away.
Sleeps: 5 guests
7.Patty’s Farm Stay in Bodega, CA
If you’ve been dying to stay on a sustainably farmed goat ranch known for its nationally acclaimed goat cheese (and who could blame you), this is your chance! Patty’s Farm Stay features stunning views, a gorgeous garden, and a variety of animals to befriend. Set in the historic town of Bodega where Alfred Hitchcock filmed The Birds, this sweet one-bedroom with sofa bed (perfect for a family of three or a parent and child) offers a u-pick activity in the garden (only in season), a farm store with a selection of farm products, and the option to tour the farm or do a cheese tasting for an additional fee.
Sleeps: 3 guests
8. Chapel College in Point Arena, CA
For a truly special farm stay, you can’t go wrong with the cottages on the 110-acre B. Bryan Preserve in Point Arena. Eclectic lodging and African animals galore await you—antelope, zebra, and giraffes (oh my!). All units have satellite TV and amenities like linens, kitchen pans and utensils, as well as a fireplace. In order to see the animals, guests must book a tour at a reduced rate. Also, there is a small lake on the property, so please be aware if you have small children. If you’d like to venture into town, the Mendocino Coast has a stunning historic lighthouse, art deco cinema, organic co-op market, and some really fantastic restaurants.
Sleeps: 4 guests
7. Goat Farm in Big Sur
Big Sur is known for its stunning ocean views and this lovely farm stay on a private working ranch offers that in spades. This spacious two-bedroom cabin with a loft features everything you could need to feel right at home—including Wi-Fi (but we think you’ll be too busy gazing at the Pacific or playing with animals to use it). The hosts pride themselves in educating visitors about farm life, animals, and helping with chores (don’t tell your kids). In fact, the farm’s goats will kid (give birth) this year in May!
Sleeps: 4 guests
8. Bar SZ Ranch in Paicines, CA
Set on 2,200 acres in its own valley with scenic views of golden hills and the mountains at Pinnacle National Park, Bar SZ Ranch is an extraordinary place to escape with your family. Run by a family of five who eat, sleep, and breathe ranch life—it’s hard not to be won over by their hard work and enthusiasm during your stay.
Luxe accommodations include The Log Cabin, a 2,100 sq. ft., three-bedroom home that’s spacious yet warm with a stone fireplace, game room with pool table, and views of the pastures and mountains. The Ranch House is as another option with 4,300 sq. ft. of living space plus a detached apartment, private pool, and pool house. With six bedrooms, a lush yard, indoor and outdoor fireplaces, and a wraparound porch where you can relax, you’d be hard pressed to find something better. You can also book a private RV or glamping tents for your stay as well. For guests who are interested in experiencing day-to-day life on a working ranch, there are several paid activities to choose from, including trail rides, arena rides, BB guns and archery, as well as free experiences like animal feeding, hiking, and mountain biking.
Sleeps: 6-8 guests
Price: Log Cabins start around $450 per night with a two-night min; The Ranch House starts around $850 per night with a two-night min. The private RV is $150 per night and glamping tents are $150 per night.
9. Mission Peak Ranch in Fremont, CA
On this 150-acre estate, guests have plenty of outdoor space to enjoy themselves—whether they’re fishing and canoeing on the private lake, hiking one of many private and public trails, playing basketball, strolling the vineyard (Mission Peak Winery), meeting local rescue horses, jumping on the trampoline, or gazing at the zillions of twinkling stars in the night sky. Accommodations include a 1,600 sq. ft. two-level house with an outdoor patio, oodles of amenities, and high-speed internet. During summer months, guest are granted access to the swimming pool on site by scheduling their swim ahead of time.
Sleeps: 8 guests (the home sleeps 4 comfortably, but you may add up to 4 more guests for $50 per person/night)
The Best Central California Farm Stays for Families
10. Kindred Oak Farm in Paso Robles, CA
Kindred Oak Farm is a unique retreat amongst century old oaks in the heart of Paso Robles wine country. This newly renovated organic working farm is home to a five-star, four-room bed and breakfast that encourages guests to connect with Mother Nature. All four guest rooms are beautifully decorated with luxurious amenities, but the Adelaida room is the only room with a King-sized bed and an extra twin-sized daybed for additional space. The room rate is for two guests so any extra people including kiddos are an additional fee. On the property, there is a communal living room, dining room, and large outdoor deck and breakfast is made fresh every morning using home-grown or locally sourced ingredients.
Throughout the farm, there is plenty to do—stop by the Gather Garden for a u-pick flower experience, purchase a s’mores kit and sit by the fire pit under the stars, take a swing at the golf tee, visit the barn’s game room for a round of pool, darts or horseshoes; explore The Upper Pasture Trail that offers a tranquil walk through the oaks and hillsides; or check out the creek bed which has likely filled up by now with all the recent rain.
Sleeps: 3 guests (Adelaida room only)
Price: Around $575/night with an extra fee for a third person in this room
11. Wildwood Cottage in Atascadero, CA
Wildwood Cottage is a super charming converted schoolhouse that sits on three shared acres of beautiful land. This private retreat with 1,750 sq. ft of space is the perfect place to sneak away with your family. The house is delightful for sure, but the thing your kids will love most is the incredible full-size playground in their very own yard (it used to be a schoolhouse after all). And there are are oodles of other activities to do on the grounds as well with a common area that features bocce ball, a fire pit, picnic tables, and lots of green space. And when you’re done there, we know some resident sheep, pigs, and chickens who would love a visit.
Sleeps: 8 guests
12. Marfarm in San Luis Obispo
Marfarm is one of the most stunning properties we’ve seen—we’re talking Architectural Digest-level stuff here! This converted horse stable and dairy farm is truly a feast for the eyes when it comes to decor and the 360-degree views of the rolling hills aren’t too shabby either. The space also has an open green grass patio with a BBQ fire pit, Adirondack seating, a bocce ball court and beautiful fruit trees. If you have horses of your own, feel free to bring them for the weekend for an extra fee—after all, why should you have all the fun?
Sleeps: 6 guests