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Three Back-to-the-Land Farm Vacations

Jenna Scatena | November 26, 2014 | Story California Destinations

Current as of October 2015

There might be something about the holidays that makes you want to get back to the good ol’ days—sink your fingers into the ground and harvest vegetables for a feast with your family. While most city slickers might not be able to do so in their backyards, there are a number of farms within a brief drive from our concrete jungle that offer overnight accommodations and let you partake in the daily work. Here are a few of our favorites.

The Apple Farm, Philo
If you hurry, you can still catch the end of Mendocino’s beloved apple season, and no place better to do so than The Apple Farm. Hidden off the main Highway in Anderson Valley, the tiny village of chic cottages is likely to epitomize your ranch life fantasy—a porch for watching the grass grow, so to speak, plush beds, and intimate fireplace nooks, all to be enjoyed without the nuisance of technology (no televisions, phones, or cell service). Expect simple but lovely breakfasts of coffee and toast with the farm’s homemade apple jam.

Willow Creek Natural, Mountain Ranch
Based in Gold Country, this ranch stay is a bit more... rustic. But that’s what you’ve come here for, right? Expect wholesome country humor from the owners and a basic but comfortable cabin, which sleeps a large family (around seven). Forty acres provides ample grounds for romping, hiking, and admiring the cascading waterfalls—you can even pan for gold in the creek, if you’re into that sort of thing. Get your hands dirty gathering eggs, feeding the cattle, and mend the fence or stitch a quilted tablecloth if you’re up for it.

Rinconada Dairy, Santa Margarita
Tucked away in the sleepy Central Coast hills, this organic ranch is primarily known for making stellar cheeses. You’ll find samples, along with eggs from the ranch’s chickens and house-made bacon from their pigs, stocked in your refrigerator for a hearty country breakfast made at your leisure. Your abode is a cozy apartment attached to the bar, with room for four. Spend the daylight hours strolling the 92-acres and testing your ranching skills by milking cows, lending a hand in the garden, and learning about the cheese-making process.

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