Agritourism is a rapidly growing segment of the travel industry. It is broadly defined as:
…any agriculturally based operation or activity that brings visitors to a farm or ranch.
It encompasses everything from a stop at a farm stand to staying on a working farm and participating in the chores. This type of travel has been very popular in Italy and Australia for years. If you have a passion around a certain crop or animal this could be your style of travel. It is certainly a great way to learn about the day to day of any region.
In the U.S. we visit the pumpkin farm, corn maze or apple orchard during our autumn festivities, but do you think to add these to your travel itineraries?
Let’s Go Learn Things….
Agritourism meets the current demand for fresh, sustainable and local. Discovering the source and producers of these products adds great value to any travel experience. Let’s start with food and drink:
Cheese-making is an ancient and mysterious art. It makes sense that regions boasting a large dairy production is where you find cheese trails. Conveniently these regions are usually full of wine offerings also.
- Auvergne, France Fromages Route. What a perfect way to experience the French countryside. A few wine stops intermingled and this sounds like heaven.
- Finger Lakes, NY Cheese Trail. Another picturesque region in the U.S. offering cheese and wine.
- California Cheese Trail. California is the primary dairy state of the U.S. Here too you can pair your cheese with plenty of wine.
- Wisconsin Driftless Cheese Trail. Wisconsin is a close runner-up to California in dairy production. I don’t love the wine here. LOL
Vineyards and wine regions across the world capture our imaginations. While we recognize the big wine names, it is the small intimate vineyards that make the experiences special. Wine destinations offer a range of opportunities ie; lodging, tastings, private tours and serene settings. I love touring wineries in California. See Travel Themes Part 5: Boozy Trips for more wine destination ideas.
- France wine regions
- Australian wine
- Oregon wine regions put Pinot Noir on the map. This is also a spectacular area for hiking, beer and food.
- Paso Robles is a growing wine region giving Napa and Sonoma some stiff competition. See the post 6 Ways to Enjoy San Luis Obispo County
and Paso Robles Charm where we met Joe Barton and his family winery.
When we think of farms we usually think of fresh produce. The farm-to-table trend continues to spread across the U.S., tempting us with the joys of fresh produce. Years ago I traveled to the Tuscany region of Italy, where farm-to-table has been a way of life for centuries. In addition to cooking lessons we visited local farmers sharing their wines, cheeses, olives etc. This was the way to fall in love with a place. The locals opened their kitchens and homes to us and shared their bounty.
Here are just a few produce ideas to watch for in your travels. Also see Part 1: Culinary Travels of this series for more ideas. Any time I meet real life people on a trip it is an extraordinary experience. These small entrepreneurs are bursting with pride and can benefit greatly from your support.
- Cooking classes
- Coffee growers and roasters. This is an interesting article discussing the pros and cons of coffee agritourism.
- Pineapple Plantation, this is truly a “big” business and not the same independent feel but it does give you some insight into the industry.
- Maple syrup
- Honey, have you secretly always wanted to be a beekeeper? This site in Minneapolis, offers Camp Beez Kneez
- Olives and olive oil
I have several friends and fellow bloggers who love animals more than anything in life. I feel compelled to warn them that some animal agritourism may involve shearing, milking, or even slaughtering. This is just the facts of life on a farm. If this category makes you uncomfortable I recommend petting farms rather than working farms.
- Dude Ranches, think City Slickers for this experience. I have never been a horse person, but I know many, and they do love their horses. I can see where a trip to a ranch in Wyoming, Montana or South America would be fantastic.
- Kentucky horse country is a totally different feel than ranches. Here the elegant thoroughbreds lounge in their retirement.
- Sheep, goats and alpacas, are some of the most adorable animals. I list them together because I am all about their wool. Sheep and goats are produced for their milk and meat also. I have yarn from trips to Wisconsin, Maine, California, and Norway. Scotland and New Zealand are topping my wool bucket list now.
Goats seem to have invaded a lot of unusual aspects of our lives lately, such as yoga…They are adorable and capricious this was an interesting book of a couple that spent a year immersed in goat culture:
- Petting/hobby farms are great destinations for city families or for those uncomfortable with animals being used in anyway other than playing.
To wrap up, I hope you consider planning an agritourism trip or at least adding a component to your next destination. Below are a couple of sites that offer ideas for farm experiences around the world. Both have my wanderlust soaring.
Be sure to check out all the posts in The 12 Days of Travel Themes;
Part 1: Culinary Tourism
Part 2: Fairs and Festivals
Part 3: Historic Destinations
Part 4: Museums
Part 5: Boozy Trips
Part 6: Get Outdoors
Part 7: Agritourism
Part 8: Urban Adventures
Part 9: Scenic Road Trips
Part 10: Literary Travels
Part 11: The Arts
Part 12 : Oddities