Where can you pose for a picture in front of a life-size dairy cow statue? Well, if you’ve ever found yourself in search of such a photo op, the answer is Fair Oaks Farms in Fair Oaks, Indiana.
The farm is part of the new wave of agri-tourism opportunities that are now available across the country. As far as I’m concerned, agricultural sites like farms, dairies and orchards are some of the most fun places to visit when traveling–especially traveling with a toddler.
It’s a bit sad to me that we had to drive all the way to Indiana from Kansas to get such a great opportunity when there are dairies and farms just a few miles from our house. Unfortunately, the agricultural producers near our home aren’t set up for tours or having a small child running through their fields, so we had to travel. (Or, more accurately, we took advantage of the farm’s entertainment while visiting family in the area.)
Fair Oaks Farms was one of the best agri-tourism sites I’ve visited. The site includes a semi-self-guided tour of a pig farm, a bus tour of a dairy, the chance to see a calf being born in the birthing barn and numerous outdoor play areas.
We started out with the pig farm tour, which is a newer feature at the farm. We saw piglets of all sizes, including one that was just born. The visitor area is a specially designed overhead structure that lets visitors see down into three pig barns without disturbing the critters or risking the pigs’ health with human germs. Guides roam throughout the area, answering visitor questions. The high-tech interactive displays are informative and much more interesting than your average museum-type display. They can’t do anything to dim the piggy smell, though!
Next, we took the dairy bus tour. This bus drove us around the dairy farm, even ducking into the cows’ shelter area for an up-close view. My favorite part was the milking barn where a few dozen cows line up in a rotating circle to be milked by special milking machines. It’s like a very strange merry-go-round.
After our tours, we wandered the grounds of the visitor area. The site has a birthing barn (yes, we got to see a calf being born), a restaurant (everything we tried was delicious), a cheese shop (with free samples) and a delicious ice cream stand. Oh, and a giant jumping pillow that was tons of fun.
If you happen to be traveling anywhere near Fair Oaks, I highly recommend it for family fun with a bit of agricultural education thrown in. (And definitely try the ice cream…it’s beyond delicious!)
Admission seemed a little expensive at first ($20/adult) but that admission price included a whole day of fun. And, they have discounts available, too, such as senior Monday when adults 55+ get in for $10. As we were walking in, someone handed us a BOGO coupon he wasn’t planning to use; not sure where he got it, but it worked just fine.
Do you enjoy agri-tourism? Are there any sites you’d recommend? Please share in the comments section.