Travelers Are Seeking Sustainable Luxury Farms Over Beachside Resorts In 2024


Rewilding is getting a lot of attention. “The term can be applied to both a place and a person. From an ecological standpoint, it’s about restoring a piece of land [or body of water] to its most pristine and native state. To rewild yourself means to be immersed within nature and connect to its importance,” explains Christina Albert, director of agriculture at Beach Plum Farm in West Cape May, New Jersey.

Recently, there’s been a shift in the number of people seeking out back-to-nature experiences on vacation. According to a recent report from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) and the Trip.com Group, 69% of respondents reported wanting to travel more sustainably. Agritourism (a portmanteau of agriculture and tourism) very much falls into the eco-tourism canon. The word, which was originally coined in Italy (in Italian, it’s agriturismo), has spread like a dandelion seed on a windy day to virtually every corner of the globe. The uptick makes a lot of sense. As the population moves into more urban environments, an increasing number of city dwellers have a yearning to be around trees, flowers, dirt, blue sky, and fresh air. “Many travelers who live in urban areas are searching for refuge in nature, which is why farms and agricultural properties that offer a taste of the country life are so appealing,” says Esha Chhabra, journalist and author of Working to Restore.

Far more immersive than just staying at a biophilic hotel in a city (though that’s a lovely option for a quick hit of green), agritourism is essentially vacationing on a farm. So it really taps into the slow travel, sustainability, and holistic well-being movements in harmony. And, of course, it also presents the perfect opportunity for rewilding — especially for stressed-out urbanites looking to escape to greener pastures for a few days.

@babylonstoren

The Benefits Of Agritourism

Staying on a farm gives guests the chance to breathe clean air, work with their hands, live off the land, and learn the real meaning of farm to table. Visitors can toss on a pair of boots, roll up their sleeves, try farm chores, and partake in green-based activities such as horsemanship and hiking. “The physical aspects help work up a sweat and boost feel-good endorphins,” says Jessica Blotter, co-founder and CEO of Kind Traveler. Add to that a real emphasis on slowing down — which we all need in this fast-paced, overscheduled modern world. In places that go off the rising and setting sun, traditional practices still thrive. So it’s a wonderful reprieve from hustle culture and jam-packed social calendars. And in a world that’s full of protein bars and fad diets, there’s something so grounding about living off the land and eating real, nourishing food.

Integrating travel and nature in such an intuitive way also brings with it a slew of benefits for mental health — from reducing stress to improving quality sleep. A study performed in South Korea found that “visitors to agritourism sites perceived considerable improvement in their immediate mood.” “It also makes a positive social impact for both visitors and community as well as the environment,” adds Blotter.

What’s more, as the demand for well-being-oriented vacations surges, many of these properties are leaning into the wellness side of things, constructing modern spas with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the landscape as well as offering daily yoga, forest bathing, and even sound healing.

Whether you’re an urbanite keen to trade concrete for rows of crops or feel the call of the wild deep inside your bones, some time in the countryside might just be what the doctor ordered to feel good (and do good).

Admittedly, the idea of agritourism — and its myriad benefits — strikes a chord. But not everyone wants to rough it (hence the rapidly growing glamping trend). Thankfully, for less rugged types, the agritourism category has evolved to give guests true pastoral experiences enhanced by plush perks like spa treatments and gourmet farm-to-fork food in scenic settings.

Agritourism Destinations Around The World

U.S.-Based Properties

@beltraneranch

A sixth-generation family-owned and -operated retreat in the Sonoma County hamlet of Glen Ellen, Beltane Ranch is deeply rooted in sustainability. The 105-acre agricultural preserve relies on free-range chickens for pest control and employs sheep to promote soil fertility. Reading a book under the shade-giving oak trees, eating your way through the heirloom gardens, sipping estate-grown wine, and taking an afternoon nap in the charming inn are just a few of the leisurely ways to pass the days while on vacation.

@beachplumfarm

Nestled in a pastoral pocket of West Cape May, New Jersey, Beach Plum Farm is a 62-acre working farm that grows various kinds of fruits and vegetables and raises chickens and Berkshire hogs. Guests can choose to help harvest crops, feed animals, and collect eggs. Of course, it’s totally fine if you’d rather just hang out in the spacious cottages, stroll around the herb garden, and feast on a farm-to-table dinner in the evening.

@blackberryfarm

Looking for a super luxe foray into the whole farm-stay thing? Sybaritic relaxation seekers have long decamped to Blackberry Farm to unplug, indulge, and get closer to nature. Letting the earth nurture well-being is one of the main tentpoles of the 4,200-acre estate in the Great Smoky Mountains. The gardens supply fresh produce for the restaurant’s signature Foothills cuisine. There’s also a curated list of hands-on activities, ranging from horseback riding and fly fishing to foraging and culinary demonstrations, plus a spa, yoga classes, and an outdoor swimming pool. The property also hosts a Deep Healing Woods annual wellness retreat.

@wildflowerauberge

Folks who gravitate toward refined over rugged should also consider Wildflower Farms, Auberge Resorts Collection, a new luxury nature resort in Hudson Valley that has the soul of an agritourism but with a five-star twist. Highlights include a spa featuring seasonally inspired treatments and wellness journeys, a 3,000-square-foot fitness center and movement studio, sound baths, and an indoor saltwater pool, as well as honey tasting, sheep shearing at the farm, and naturalist-led walks. When it’s time to rest, retire to the impeccably designed meadow-view cabins for restful zzzs.

@southhalltn

Located just 30 minutes outside of Nashville, Southall Farm & Inn attracts nature-starved travelers with a penchant for the high end. The picturesque property is dotted with gardens, greenhouses, crops, apiaries, leafy trails, and a lake. The relaxing atmosphere and upscale accommodations invite visitors to unwind in style. Activities like falconry, the aerial ropes course, and beekeeping take guests out of their comfort zones in the best possible way. “I think people gravitate toward experiences that are unique and memorable. Do you want to take a selfie in a beekeeper suit while 100,000 bees buzz around your head and safely taste honey right out to the hive? We can do that, and also make sure we get you to your spa appointment on time following the apiary tour,” says Jay Williams, pollination program manager at Southall Farm & Inn.

International Properties

@malhadinhanova

One of the best wine hotels in Portugal, Herdade da Malhadinha Nova, a member of Relais & Châteaux, is a hidden gem tucked away in the agrarian region of Alentejo. The sprawling property has horse stables, bee hives, a winery, an award-winning restaurant, and a gorgeous subterranean spa. Basically, it’s the perfect place to sip wine, savor local products (I still dream about the honey and olive oil), and saddle up.

@ebbiotuscany

Ebbio, an ecologically oriented estate surrounded by evergreen forest in Tuscany, encourages visitors to slow down and appreciate the simple things. Without the constant distractions of everyday life, guests are free to participate in immersive experiences such as foraging for wild asparagus and edible flowers, hunting for truffles (between September and November), and learning in cooking classes and jam-making workshops.

@babylonstoren

Many visitors venture to South Africa’s beautiful and biodiverse Franschhoek Valley on wine-focused excursions from Cape Town. One of the oldest Cape Dutch farms, Babylonstoren comprises rows of verdant vineyards and a sleek tasting room. Doing a day trip is nice, but it’s even better to spend the night relishing tension-melting massages at the spa, snooze in farmhouses with fireplaces and soaking tubs, wander the gardens, and fuel up with a farm-fresh breakfast spread that’s almost too pretty to eat.



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