Farmstay U.S. Blog

Created for and by travelers and the farmers, these posts will cover a variety of topics related to farm stays in the U.S.

Archive for tag: Florida

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Chantilly Ridge Alpacas Farm lies on twelve acres of farm land located 10 miles from Daytona Beach in beautiful Port Orange, Florida. The owners, Fran and Vern, have lived there for about 15 years now. They had been talking about raising alpacas for a long time, but it wasn’t until eight years ago that they decided to go for it and purchased over 100 alpacas. “They are the sweetest animals,” Fran said during our phone interview. You could tell by the sincerity in her voice that she and her family love what they do. Now, as a family run full service alpaca farm they pride themselves in educating their many visitors about Alpacas and creating a farm experience they won’t forget.

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Alpaca farming is still fairly new in the United States, but the industry is rapidly gaining popularity. Native to South America, alpacas are used for meat, leather and fiber; however, in the United States they’re solely used for their fiber material, fleece. At Chantilly Ridge Alpacas Farm they carefully raise and breed their alpacas to ensure the best possible genetics. They offer alpacas for sale and a variety of fiber products.

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Visit the Farm

Chantilly Ridge Alpacas are involved in a number of events, tours and community oriented activities giving you multiple options to learn more about the farm, get to know the local farmers and gain the farm experience. Located out in the country, but only a few miles to I-95, Chantilly offers a great place to get away from it all but still gives the option of visiting Florida’s many tourist attractions.

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They are involved at multiple farmers markets, one every Thursday at the local Port Orange market and another every Saturday. You can also find them at the county fair, which they are invited to participate in for the whole ten days of the event. Volusia County also puts together a free farm tour in November where guests can visit multiple participating farms and ranches and meet the local farmers who provide the tour of their farms. Chantilly Ridge Alpacas Farm had over 350 visitors during last year’s county farm tour. They also love giving back to the community with visits from children groups, schools, churches and boy and girl scouts. The scouts love to camp out in their pasture!

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Farm Stay

If you desire a more personable experience, Chantilly Ridge Farm offers a Farm Stay that has room for up to six guests. With a king suite and the option of a twin bedroom with a joint bathroom, it’s great for couples or family getaways. They also have a pool and pool house for relaxing or family fun. They are currently in the planning stages of turning their pool house into a one bedroom apartment to expand their farm stay options.

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With chickens, two pot belly pigs, a donkey, ducks, bunnies and of course alpacas this farm has a variety of farm animals for kids and families to enjoy and play with!

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Attractions

You can enjoy a peaceful farm getaway and still enjoy the many attractions Florida has to offer. From the sand between your toes and family fun beach activities, to adventure tours and wildlife sighting to community events and nightlife, you’ll find it all in the beautiful state of Florida.

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gator kayak night

For more information visit Chantilly Ridge's Website or Farm Stay Site. For booking information call Fran or Vern at 386-767-0577

Photo Credit: (Chantilly Ridge Alpacas Farm, Visit Florida)

Westgate River RanchWestgate River Ranch is located on 1700 acres in Central Florida, just an hour from Orlando. Not your typical cattle-wrangling operation, Westgate provides plenty of family opportunities to enjoy the outdoors with everything from a petting corral and rodeo to swamp buggy rides and trap and skeet shooting.

We fired off some questions to the ranch to find out exactly what they have to offer.

Can you tell me a little about the history of Westgate River Ranch?

Believe it or not, Florida actually served as the original birthplace of the American cowboy. Long before cowboys became the symbol of the American West in the late 19th century, Seminole Indians, Spanish colonists and American settlers called “Crackers” herded cattle in Florida. Westgate River Ranch is located on some of the same land that those first cowboys roamed years ago.

In the early 1700s, American settlers began migrating to Florida out of the Carolinas and Georgia. These early settlers quickly took advantage of the wild cattle roaming the state. They often were called “cow catchers” because they would capture the wild cattle and build herds from them that they would drive to the seaports of Florida and sell to the Spanish that were sailing in from Cuba and Puerto Rico. The cattle would be taken back to Cuba and Puerto Rico to stock the ranches of the Spanish islands and be used as a food source.

These first American cowboys eventually became known as “cracker cowboys” and the Spanish cattle and horses that they made their living with were called “cracker horses” and “cracker cattle.”

The area that became known as River Ranch once served as a stopping point along the trail for the cracker cowboys during their cattle drives across the state. They would meet each other here at certain times of the year and bring together the small herds of wild cattle that they had caught into one large herd. By doing that they could help each other get those cattle to market.

Westgate River Ranch lodging

River Ranch was originally built in the 1960s by Gulf American Corp. (GAC), then one of the largest land developers in the state, as the centerpiece of a huge proposed development in the area called “River Ranch Acres.” In 2001, Westgate Resorts purchased River Ranch and Westgate River Ranch reopened its doors the following year.


What is the area like and how do people get to you?

Westgate River Ranch, which has evolved into the largest dude ranch East of the Mississippi, lies on 1,700 beautiful acres and is surrounded on all sides by approximately 400,000 acres of state and federally protected wetlands. We are located about an hour south of Orlando – easily accessible by car and RV.

Westgate River Ranch bedroom

What is the lodging like – can you describe a few of the options?

  • Standard and Deluxe Lodge rooms featuring queen beds and in room kitchenette.
  • One and Two Bedroom Cottages, sleeping up to 6 guests. These cottages were completely renovated in 2013 and feature full kitchens.
  • The Saddle Club – these feature studios, one bedroom deluxe cabins, one bedroom grand cabins and two bedroom cabins – these units were all completely renovated in 2013, and feature new dark wood furniture and luxurious lighting and linens.
  • Glamping – ‘Glamorous Camping’ – set in a beautiful wooded area, each tent is set on a platform and is fully furnished, in addition they come with heating/air conditioning, features 2 rocking chairs on the deck, plus each tent has its own grill and picnic table and comes with a key to a private bathroom and shower. The Glamping site also includes a personal concierge service.Westgate River Ranch Glamping Tents
  • Tent Camping - Escape to nature and relaxation at the Westgate River Ranch campsites, which are nestled in a beautiful wide-open area. We conveniently carry firewood, charcoal, and most other camping supplies in the General Store if you happen to need extra comforts you may have forgotten. Westgate River Ranch Glamping Tents Interior
  • RV Site - Each RV Site offers power and water hookups.
  • As of August 2013, we now have shared bathroom facilities with showers within a short walking distance of the campsites. Enjoy camping at an award-winning resort that offers endless activities both day and night!

Who does the resort cater to and how friendly is it towards kids?

We cater to couples, families and groups. We are extremely child friendly with endless activities.

What is a typical visit like, i.e. what do people do while staying with you?

We have an abundance of activities on offer at the ranch – horse back riding, air boat rides, swamp buggy rides, archery range, basketball, boat rentals, dinner hayride, fishing, full service marina, mechanical bull, nine hole golf course, petting farm, pony rides, trap & skeet range, video arcade, horseshoes, tennis, outdoor pool.

A huge favorite among the kids in particular is our adventure park which features a bungee jumper, mini-golf, rock climbing wall and zip-line We also have a ropes course which can cater for group/corporate team building events.

Westgate River Ranch Rodeo

I see you have a rodeo. Who’s in it and is it participatory for guests?

The live Rodeo takes place every Saturday night and is open to guests and the public alike. (Additional fee for ticket applies). It draws rodeo athletes from all over to compete in trick riding, calf roping, barrel racing and, of course, bull riding.

Plus the fun doesn’t stop once the rodeo ends! If you feel bull riding isn’t that tough, take a spin on our new Mechanical Bull. Or get your feet moving to the lively Dance Party just outside the River Ranch Saloon where you’ll hear music and games from a lively DJ to end a perfect day.

We neglected to ask about the food but, after-the-fact, found out that the Smokehouse Grill restaurant serves excellent smoked BBQ. The onsite General Store serves breakfast, salads, deli sandwiches, pizza, beverages as well as offers sundries and groceries. Future plans (sometime this year) include a renovation of the Saloon (located next to the Rodeo) to convert it to a steakhouse, bar and live music venue.

So, while this might not be the typical farm or ranch stay, there's plenty to enjoy from sunrise to sundown. In fact you can book your reservation right here right now, then head out to the ranch, jump on a horse and ride into a bit of Florida history, if only for the afternoon.

(Photo credits: Westgate River Ranch)

Wow, what a great month we had in July for new members! Please join us in giving a hearty welcome to these newly listed farms. Here are some quick highlights from their profiles:

Chantilly Ridge Alpacas

Chantilly Ridge Alpacas

Port Orange, Florida

We are a family run full service Alpaca Farm (meaning we do all the work), located in beautiful Port Orange, FL. Come and help out on the farm, feed and play with the Alpacas, chickens, bunnies. Relax by a beautiful pool (get a wonderful massage, optional ) or visit the many interesting places Daytona Beach and surrounding areas have to offer.

Pholia Farm

Pholia Farm Goat Cheese Dairy

Rogue River, Oregon

Go glamping in a charming, refurbished 1970 Airstream Land Yacht in a private setting on a real goat cheese farm. Participate in milking and farm chores if you like, feed baby goats in the spring, or hike our forest trails. The farm is completely off the power grid and nestled on 24 acres of forest and farmland. It is family run, sustainable, and organically managed.

Sweet Retreat

Sweet Retreat Guesthouse and Sugarworks

Northfield, Vermont

The guesthouse is perfect for short or extended vacations. To get you started, we stock the guesthouse with ample breakfast fixings for your first morning meal. We invite you to help yourself to fresh veggies from our lush garden in summer, and to complimentary maple syrup from our sugarhouse year round throughout your stay.

Harvest Village

Harvest Village

Leroy, Michigan

Harvest Village, an organic, centennial farm features natural meat products from grass fed cattle and sheep; pastured heritage pigs; free range heritage turkeys; and free range chicken eggs.

Spiritwind Farm

Spiritwind Farm

Lebanon, Maine

Beautiful and private historic farm in southern Maine. I raise English Shire horses, Nubian and Nigerian goats, chickens, and pigs. Delicious Chevre cheese and luxurious goat milk soap are products from my goats. Almost everything I serve is from the garden or from my animals. The animals are all treated humanely and they live happily and freely on the farm.

Flamig Farm 2

Flamig Farm

West Simsbury, Connecticut

Over the past 30 years, driven by Nevin Christensen's Eco-environmental vision, Flamig Farm has grown from a small egg, organic vegetable, and strawberry operation to a richly varied, education and entertainment, farm complex and petting zoo.

Newton Farm

Newton Farm

West Kill, New York

Set in a high mountain valley, in the heart of the Catskill Region, Newton Farm Collective is a small market garden organic farm on 50 acres of rolling pasture and woodland.The farm dates back to the 1840's and retains all of its charm and curiosity, the setting is truly tranquil and peaceful.