Farms and their tours used to be predictable – pet a rabbit, milk a cow and get unnecessarily muddy – but today they are not just about a few hours of entertainment for kids – they are highly sought after tourism experiences some of which are available at luxury levels.
Of course, the rabbits and goats are still around to please but now you can have a gourmet meal, learn to make cheese, see the inner workings of how organic produce is grown and animals are raised, stay for a glass of wine, enjoy lunch, dinner or sometimes even the night. Want to give it a try yourself?
Here are 6 different options.
1. Eat at a Farm to Table Restaurant
Indulge on locally grown, ultra fresh meals that are not only harvested around the corner but frequently served by the people who grew it. Try The Living Farm Café in Paonia, Colorado. Run by the Gillespie Family that also owns The Living Farm, has an Inn and a farm market store which allows you to make a day or even a night of it! Also in Paonia is the Fresh and Wyld Restaurant available for Friday dinners and Sunday brunches. Call them ahead of time as the schedule varies throughout the year.
In the Durango area? Try the highly recommended Linda’s Local Food Cafe. According to Kelli Hepler of the Colorado Tourism Office you can expect, “All local sourced food with very few exceptions. Her meals are always in season. She works with growers to buy exactly what they have available.”
In Pueblo? Try some of the area’s best (and most local) burgers at Bingo Burger.
2. Take the Winery, Orchard, Roadside Fruit Stand All-in-One Tour
Orchards, vineyards, wineries, roadside fruit stands and the backdrop of Colorado – want it all? Then bike or drive the Palisade Fruit and Wine Byway. The folks of Palisade have put together an easy to read map of all the must-see stops along the way. See them all or just a few. Go the weekend of August 15 – 18, 2013 to also catch one of the original farm festivals in Colorado the Palisade Peach Festival.
3. Visit the Wreath Decorating Barn and Get a Christmas Tree While You are There
Many of your City Slickin’ opportunities die down come snowfall but the Covered Bridge Ranch in Montrose gives you one last opportunity before winter settles in. Tour their ranch on wagon to hand select and cut your Christmas tree and then stop in their wreath decorating barn where you can select from a variety of decorative elements for a do-it-yourself wreath!
4. Go on a Farm Tour that Will Forever Change Your Perception of Farms
Combine the recent increase in public interest in the origin of their food with farmers understanding the benefits of people understanding their hard work and you can create very compelling and highly engaging farm and food tourism experiences. Want to understand the inner workings and beauty of today’s farms while taking in local Colorado flavors and surroundings? Check out James Ranch in Durango, visit a variety of different farms and artists around Delta County or check out a list of farms around Colorado for one in your area.
5. Learn to Make Cheese
If you learned how to make your own cheese would there ever be a reason to leave your house again? Visit The Goat Cheese Lady in Colorado Springs for a 4.5 hour cheese making class. Learn to make mozzarella, ricotta and of course, goat cheese. Classes include a tour of the homestead, learning to milk goats, collecting eggs and a brunch enjoying freshly made bread, available treats from the garden, eggs and newly made cheese.
Other cheese making opportunities include a 3.5 hour class at The Stone Creek Farmstead in Divide, Colorado. Meet Stone Creek’s goats and then use their milk to make French style Chevre, mozzarella and other cheeses. Enjoy cheese and hors-d’oeuvres tasting, as well as conversations on cheese aging, beer and wine pairings.
6. Go to a Pizza Garden
Is there anyone in the world that doesn’t like pizza? No. Are there people in the world who don’t understand exactly how their pizza came to be? Perhaps. This is why farmers and educators are creating pizza gardens. Mapped out like a pizza with each section, or slice, being a different ingredient for the pizza. The joy of the pizza garden according to Kelli Hepler is, “It teaches kids where the food comes from that is on their pizza. People are really enjoying it.” Visit Colorado State University’s pizza garden at Hudson Gardens in Littleton.
Want to learn more?
A list of Colorado wineries or a list of Colorado farm stays and farm-to-table experiences wonderful lists of Colorado Food & Farm activities around the state or a map of agritoursim opportunities in your area.
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