10 Idyllic Farm Stays And Animal Sanctuary Vacations For Animal Lovers

These may just be the happiest places on earth.

November 28, 2017
woman feeding camels
Phung Huynh Vu Qui/getty

If you're like me, and love all creatures great and small, you likely find animals to be calm, quieting presences in an otherwise hectic world. Stroking a cat on your lap, seeing deer prance through the woods, or viewing colorful fish at an aquarium can be grounding and inspire happiness.

A medical study from as early as 1984 showed that petting a dog had the ability to lower blood pressure. And according to a UCLA study, animal therapy has the power to release relaxing chemicals like serotonin and can even reduce pain.

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If you have a pet at home, you may be quite familiar with these effects. But if you long to nuzzle up to wild horses or help rescued animals, a critter-focused vacation may be just what the doctor ordered. With voluntourism and farm stays on the rise, there are plenty of options out there, from accommodations that double as sanctuaries to farms to wildlife sanctuaries where you can see creatures in their natural habitats. Here are 10 options to consider.

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Farm Sanctuary New York

In the Finger Lakes region of New York lies an oasis for over 500 rescued farm animals including pigs, cows, chickens, goats, and more. Farm Sanctuary, the well-known national non-profit, offers charming lodging at their New York location. Choose from a cabin or tiny house, take tours of the land, visit with the animals, and savor vegan breakfasts.

Related: 8 Things You Need To Know Before You Adopt A Mini Pig

Cold Moon Farm

Perhaps while you were growing up, you never got the chance to spend time at a real working farm. Well, now’s your chance. Cold Moon Farm in Jamaica, Vermont, is a farm meets bed and breakfast, where you can learn about the farm’s inner workings from staff, eat literal farm-to-table fare and of course, see the many animals: goats, ducks, sheep, pigs, and even honeybees.

Related: 10 Amazing Organic Farms That Double As Family-Friendly Bed and Breakfasts

Glendeven Inn Mendocino

If you’re searching for cozy accommodations and soft, fuzzy llamas, you’ve found your match in Glendeven Inn Mendocino. Located in Mendocino, California, with an idyllic view of the ocean, this eco-friendly inn has a twist—its six llamas that roam on the grounds. Guests are welcome to spend time with the llamas in their pasture, and may even get a “kiss,” the official greeting among llamas.

Related: 9 Ridiculously Awesome Treehouses You Can Book On Airbnb For Your Next Vacation

Aloft Asheville Downtown

The Aloft hotel in Asheville, North Carolina, is pet-friendly, which is great, but that isn’t even the best thing about it. In 2014, Aloft started an innovative program, partnering with Charlie’s Angels Animal Rescue. The hotel hosts one special rescue dog at a time, complete with an “Adopt Me” vest, and guests have the option of adopting a new furry friend to take home. Interested parties go through a matching process, and each dog enjoys plenty of cuddles.

Related: 14 Awesome Alternative Gifts That Make The World A Better Place

Red Mountain Resort

Red Mountain Resort in Ivins, Utah, is certainly a soothing place—gorgeous red rock formations, yoga, sunset rappelling, and quality time with horses. They have traditional horseback-riding sessions that voyage into Snow Canyon, but they offer an additional, unique program as well. Called “Where Heart Meets Horse,” guides teach guests how to lead a wild horse and spend time with the herd.

Related: 8 Best Yoga Poses For Gardeners

Best Friends Animal Society Utah Sanctuary

At the Best Friends Animal Society sanctuary in Kanab, Utah, there are over 1,600 animals available for adoption. Pets and farm animals live harmoniously on the property, and guests are welcome to experience this amazing place for themselves. You can book a cottage, cabin, or RV site, where you can tour the facility or even apply in advance to work as a volunteer.

Related: Why Adopting My Anxious Kitten Was The Best Thing I Ever Did For My Mental Health

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge

As one of the largest sanctuaries of its kind, Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, has created a home for displaced big cats like tigers, lions, and cougars. It’s also home to impressive lodgings that look as if they’ve been pulled from an African savanna—safari lodges, suites, safari tents, and even a tree house.

Related: 11 Mesmerizing Live Wildlife Webcams You Can Watch Right Now

Hyatt Regency Maui

Penguins? In Hawaii? At the Hyatt Regency Maui, this is actually true, with a sanctuary for endangered African Black-Footed Penguins. They’re warm-climate penguins (so they love their Hawaiian surroundings), and guests are invited to view daily feedings.

Related: 7 Most Beautiful Places In The World To Watch The Sunrise

Florida's Plantation on Crystal River

Manatees, the gentlest giants around, are the stars of Florida’s Plantation on Crystal River, a resort where manatees reside in nearby warm waters. Guests can sign up for Manatee Tours, in which guests don snorkeling gear and wetsuits, swim alongside manatees, and practice “passive observation.”

Paradise Farmhouse at Norman Bird Sanctuary

Serving as a place to hold overnight retreats for large groups and health and wellness programs, the Paradise Farmhouse at Middletown, Rhode Island’s Norman Bird Sanctuary is a respite in beautiful, natural surroundings. The six-bedroom, 6,000 square-foot farmhouse sits on the property of the 325-acre refuge, filled with hiking trails ideal for catching sight of egrets, hawks, woodpeckers, and more.

Related: 24 Perfect Gifts for Bird Lovers