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Agritourism in California

National Farmers Day is in October making it a fabulous time to celebrate California’s vast bounty of agricultural experiences. From overnight farm stays, to unique farm tours, to u-pick opportunities -- and more, here’s how to get immersed in agritourism and farm education in California. 

Fabulous Farmstays, Farm-Inspired Hotels & Experiences

U-Pick, then “U-Eat,” right on-site in Santa Ynez at Roblar Winery and Vineyards’ one-acre organic Roblar Farm. Overnight guests are offered the opportunity to pick produce straight from the farm and enjoy it immediately.

Nestled in downtown San Luis Obispo, the remarkable edible garden at Hotel Cerro is the highlight of the hotel. Organic produce for the property's restaurant is harvested for its restaurant, Brasserie SLO, and guests can walk right through the garden to explore, while tasting vegetables and fruits downstairs.  

Terranea Resort in Ranchos Palos Verdes sources seasonal ingredients by harvesting Meyer lemons from its on-site lemon trees, using it's on-property herb and vegetable gardens, adopting beehives, serving meats and vegetables from local farms, and even gathering kelp and producing sea salt with water from the Pacific Ocean in salt beds at Terranea’s Sea Salt Conservatory.

Lake County is home to the United State’s largest organic saffron farm, Peace and Plenty, which is now hosting a stylishly refurbished Airstream glamping experience. There’s also Finca Castelero in Kelseyville, which is a beautifully renovated farm that was originally set up to house ag workers but now serves as a top-rated Airbnb stay and event space.

The honey farm at the Omni La Costa Resort in San Diego County is home to 60,000 bees that support honey production for local restaurants. They are located next to a beautiful garden full of herbs such as chives, basil and fennel that also garnish and season dishes at the on-site restaurants. 

Down in San Diego, the “WELL Certified” Inn at Moonlight Beach is enveloped by a living, biodynamic urban farm, perched on just a third of an acre. This property yields a productive landscape of medicinal herbs, cut flowers, succulents, tasty vegetables, fruit and tea. There’s also a selection of on-site immersive workshops guests can partake in, to learn more about biodynamic farming and agricultural artisan practices.

Extraordinary Animal Encounters

At Tule Ranch Eco-Tours & Luxury Campsite located in west Morgan Hill in the eastern foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains, travelers can immerse themselves in California’s rich agricultural heritage. Eco-tours give visitors a glimpse into how each farm “resident” plays an important role -- from the herd of Highland cattle fire-grazers helping to restore grasslands, to the working dogs and other guardian animals protecting smaller livestock from wild predators.

At Carmel Valley Ranch in Carmel Valley, the on-site farmstead hosts an organic garden, four-acre pinot noir vineyard, lavender field, apiary, salt house, hen house and goat barn. Guests can meet the resort’s artisans-in-residence including world-renowned gardener Mark Marino, nicknamed the ‘Dirt Whisperer’ goat herder and cheesemaker Lauren Coakley, aka ‘The Goat Gal’; and beekeeper Christopher Riley, known as the ‘Bees’ Best Friend.’ 

Shanti Permaculture Farm in the enchanted hamlet of Occidental in West Sonoma County offers a family and dog-friendly farm stay experience surrounded by historic redwoods. Guests are invited to feed and befriend the animals on the farm, including sheep, chickens, geese and a llama.

For those who are fans of llamas, Llamas of Circle Home in Northern California’s Tuolumne County is a spiritual wellness haven where guests can meet, greet, interact and communicate with the specially trained 31 on-site resident llama friends.

In Mendocino, Glendeven Inn & Lodge lets guests get up close and personal with nature, with the opportunity to participate in their nightly llama feedings. 

Culinary Experiences and Crafting Creations

Hartley Farms in San Luis Obispo offers organic jam-making sessions and overnight experiences. Visitors can immerse themselves into the farmstead mindset with goats and alpacas at Tree Giving Family Farm with soap and cheesemaking. Workshop with FARMsteadED’s Grow Your Own Cocktail with Yes Cocktail Co or Grow Your Own Spa with Life Elements and take home plants from Clearwater Color Nursery.

Down in Santa Barbara County, Zaca Creek has debuted their bio-lagoon area, “The Falls”, which is only open to overnight Inn guests, guests of property buyouts, or for private events. The Tavern at Zaca Creek showcases the best of Santa Ynez Valley’s bounty, sourcing its ingredients from local farmers, ranchers and fishers with an ever-changing assortment featuring locally caught seafood and seasonal farm fresh organic produce.

On the farm-to-table front is the Carlsbad Aquafarm, a must-visit hidden treasure of the Carlsbad Lagoon. This sustainable oyster farm is now finally open (after 20 years of operating privately) for public tours, tastings and shucking classes.  

Happy [Farm] Trails and Tours

The Sonoma County Farm Trails gather everything apple related together in a new Apple Trail guide so visitors can find out where to pick apples straight from the trees and indulge in some locally made, delicious apple baked goods.

Known as one of the richest growing regions in the nation, San Joaquin County offers a plethora of U-Pick orchards, experiential cheese tastings, and more on the 40 stops of the San Joaquin County Farm Trail.  

Visalia Farm Trail can be best enjoyed by planning an overnight stay among the orange groves at McKellar Family Farms or touring Farmer Bob’s World, where the family has been growing oranges for nearly 100 years. Visitors can climb aboard the tractor-pulled wagon for a ride through the groves or check out the demonstration garden, pet the animals and see displays of vintage farm equipment. 

Paso Robles Wine Country is looking greener than ever thanks to recent sustainability efforts, ensuring sustainable wine, grapes and vineyards a priority. Visitors can make their way along SLO County and Paso Robles’ sustainable wine trail which includes favorites like Opolo Vineyards, Vina Robles Vineyards & Winery, and more to witness the fall harvest firsthand.

Gilroy, California is known as “The Garlic Capital of the World”— so visitors must grab a Road to Garlic map to find the best garlic shops, restaurants and tours in town. Highlights include the spinning Garlic Twirl ride at Gilroy Gardens, the world’s largest garlic braid at Garlic World, delicious garlic soup and yes, even garlic ice cream at Garlic City Café. 

The Luffa Farm is nestled in the small-town Nipomo in San Luis Obispo County, and first started growing luffas as a hobby more than 30 years ago when in 1999, the owner, Deanne, decided to start a business growing and selling luffas and handcrafted bath and herbal products to retail outlets. Free tours are open up to the public – no reservations needed. 

Del Norte County’s fall bounty features dairy, produce and fish, where travelers can create their own self-guided tour. A great first stop is the Alexandre Family Farm store in Crescent City where guests can pick up fresh organically produced dairy and eggs from roaming chickens. Next, they can tour the Rumiano Cheese Factory store in downtown Crescent City which is the oldest family-owned cheese company in California (and well worth the visit for their ample samples of delicious aged Dry Jack!). 

Foraging and U-Pick Farm Fun

Swanton Berry Farm in Pescadero and the Carlsbad Strawberry Company offer some extra sweet U-pick strawberry opportunities. Villa del Sol in Leona Valley sits on 25 acres with over 3,000 cherry trees ripe for picking. There’s even a wide variety of types of trees including Bing, Rainier, Brooks and Tulare. Santa Maria’s U-PICK Blueberry Farm offers spray-free blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, tomatoes, lavender, apricots and plums depending on the season. 

Avila Valley Barn hosts u-pick apples, peaches, raspberries, blackberries, olallieberries, pumpkins and and fresh cut flowers depending on the season, in the Central Coast’s seaside city of Avila Beach. Just up the road from Avila, in Cayucos, locals and visitors alike can try their hand at Seaweed Foraging. Here, travelers can learn how to identify at least five species of edible marine algae, and how to incorporate the use of freshly harvested seaweed into everyday cooking. 

Educational Experiences for the Whole Family

Fairview Gardens, a 13-acre certified organic farm in the heart of Goleta, is utilized to produce the best of what the “Goodland” has to offer, with high quality annual and perennial crops, trees, herbs and flowers. Guests can enjoy camps, a playspace for youngsters, enrichment programs, farm tours and experiences.

Travelers can take an excursion to Menagerie Hill Ranch in Vacaville for a nuzzle from fuzzy friends and signature, by-appointment tours complete with alpaca petting, pictures and all the information anyone could ever want.

In Fresno County, visitors can shop at Simonian Farms, a 1901 fruit stand run by the Simonian family for four generations. Its massive red barn encloses a model Western town complete with saloon, church, barber shop and schoolhouse where visitors can learn about the history of the agricultural practices in the region. 

Cover’s Apple Ranch in Tuolumne is the ultimate fall destination for the whole family, offering educational tours through the apple orchards, miniature train rides, visits with farm animals, and, of course, all things apple.