If you are like us, when you heard about the chance to cuddle baby goats at Caramont Farm in Albemarle, you immediately went to the website to sign up, only to find that the experience had quickly overbooked. While your chances of getting into this exclusive event are pretty much slim to none at this point, there are plenty of Virginia farms that allow tours. You may not get to cuddle baby goats, but these farms around Virginia will let you get pretty close to wildlife and learn all about farm practices. Visit one of these farms to get back to nature and experience the Virginia outdoors in a whole new way!
Home of Virginia President James Monroe, Ash Lawn-Highland is a 3500-acre estate complete with the original house, outbuildings, gardens, and a working farm. Stroll through the boxwood gardens and visit with the sheep, chickens, and peacock that freely roam the grounds. In addition to mingling with the animals, children visiting the property enjoy crafts like candle making and paper marbling. If you get hungry during your tour, stop by the Museum Shop to pick up some of the Highland fare.
Owen Farm offers farm tours birthday parties, and even summer camps for the kids. The farm has ducks, horses, cows, goats, rabbits, and many other animals. Ride horses, care for the animals, and learn all about agriculture on your visit to the farm. Kids can splash in the creek and work on craft projects organized by the farm. During the fall months, plan a trip to the farm to pick your own pumpkin and test your sense of direction in the farm’s corn maze. Own Farm is a great place for kids and adults alike to learn about animals and farming in Virginia.
Bluebird Gap Farm—Hampton
Adventure and education combine at Bluebird Gap Farm in Hampton. This 60-acre farm has about 150 domestic and wild animals, including horses, cows, pigs, goats, chickens, whitetail deer, llamas, alpacas, tortoises, peacocks, rabbits, and waterfowl. Take a hike along Azalea Trail, feed the ducks in the pond, and eat a picnic lunch under the pavilion or in the designated picnic area.
Frying Pan Park—Herndon
Frying Pan Park is a working model of a 1920s-1950s farm that gives visitors a peek at the agricultural process, rural community living, and landscape of the time period. The park is free and the tours are educational, cultural, and recreational. After learning about the agricultural side of the farm, visit Kidwell Farm inside Frying Pan Farm Park to see rabbits, chickens, ducks, turkeys, horses, pigs, goats, cows, sheep, and peacocks.
Maranatha Alpaca Farm—Fredericksburg
Learn about Alpacas and their history in America at Maranatha Alpaca Farm in Fredericksburg. The tour highlights the process of shearing the alpacas for their fleece and concludes with a visit to the fiber studio where you can see how workers turn the fleece into beautiful clothes, blankets, and other products.
Featured in two notable movies, “Food, Inc.” and “Fresh”, Polyface Farm is a popular destination for farm tours in Virginia. The farm is open to visitors Monday-Saturday 9am-4pm from March 1-December 14th. While the regular guided tours have been cancelled, visitors are welcome to take a self-guided tour or plan their trip during the farm’s bi-annual “Lunatic Tours”, a hay wagon tour of the property that educates participants about the animals and the process of farming. Make sure that you reserve your tour spots in advance; the hayride tours are limited to 100 people per event.
Sandy Head Ostrich Farm—Tazewell
The tours at Sandy Head Ostrich Farm are educational and fun, teaching sustainable farming or alternative livestock. They raise ostrich, emu, unusual chickens, and geese on the farm, and kids can even feed the birds during their visit.
Westmoreland Berry Farm and Orchard—Colonial Beach
Westmoreland Berry Farm and Orchard has many family-oriented activities, such as pick-your-own berry fields during the seasonal months. For animal lovers, come see the overhead goat walk, where the adorable Pygmy goats cross a wooden bridge over the road, and the young animal petting zoo. The farm’s country store and café sells delicious homemade goods and produce so you can take a taste of the farm home with you!
Hedgebrook Farm Market, Ltd.—Winchester
This working Jersey Dairy Farm welcomes visitors annually from September to November. Meet the farm animals (cows, donkeys, llamas, peacocks, ducks, chickens, cats, and many more), take a pony ride, pick and experience the Hedgebrook Farm hayride tour. There is even a picnic area where you can enjoy the natural surroundings while eating your lunch.
Great Country Farms—Bluemont
Great Country Farms is a 400 acre working farm at the bottom of the Blue Ridge Mountains that lets visitors interact with all of their animals, including goats, miniature horses, “Elmer” the potbellied pig, chickens, emu, guinea fowl, ducks, turkeys, geese, and rare breed hens. Bring your four-legged friends along on your trip to Great Country Farms and hang out at the Dog Picnic Zone, a half-acre of fenced-in area where your dog can explore off leash and you can spread a blanket for a picnic.
In addition to playing with the animals, there are plenty of activities to fill your day at the farm. Take a wagon ride tour, bring your rod and reel for some catch and release fishing, play on the giant slides, get in a round of putt-putt golf, or play a game of chess on the farm’s giant chess board. Produce seekers can pick their own apples, strawberries, blackberries, and pumpkins when they are in season. On weekends, stop by the Roosteraunt Concession Stand for tasty treats like cider donuts, freshly baked pie, BBQ, and hand-dipped ice cream. There is something for every farm fan at Great Country Farms!
While the baby goat visits are completely booked up, Caromont Farm welcomes visitors for regular tours, as well. Located about 20 miles outside of Charlottesville, Caromont Farm produces fresh and aged cheese from goat’s milk that is collected on-site. They also make cow’s milk cheese out of milk sourced from a nearby farm. With a passion for naturally sourced, organic cheese, the owners of Caromont Farm host summer tours starting in June, giving visitors a chance to learn about the goats. If your interests are more geared towards the cheese making process, there are classes held periodically throughout the year that walk you through process of making cheese from scratch.
Before visiting any of these Virginia farms, make sure to call ahead, as farms can have unexpected weather or scheduling issues that cause tour hours to change.
Looking for more ideas for farm tours in your region? See all the Virginia farms that offer public tours to plan your next rural field trip. Or if you know of a farm that welcomes visitors that is not included on our list, tell us where to visit next!
© pkeppel for Virginia’s Travel Blog, 2016. |