Florida Retreats on Working Farms and Ranches
Whether you want to try your hand at feeding alpacas or simply sit on a quiet cabin porch, these five rustic farms and ranches provide a welcome retreat from modern life.
Chantilly Ridge, Port Orange
Stay and play with more than 50 alpacas, three llamas, chickens, guinea hens, a donkey, rabbits and a miniature pot belly pig at this working alpaca farm just 30 minutes from Daytona Beach. The 12-acre, family-run farm raises, breeds and shears alpacas for fleece, yarn and products sold at the New Smyrna Beach Farmers Market, among other places. Learn how to knit on a loom and make handmade goat milk soap. The family-friendly farm has three bed-and-breakfast-style rooms in the owners’ main house, along with a swimming pool and fire pit.
Contact: 1975 H.L. Ainsley Dr., Port Orange, 386-767-0577; chantillyridgealpacas.com
The Smoakhouse Ranch, Branford
This historic property in North Florida is a 22-acre working farm full of pioneer spirit, with guest cottages and a three-bedroom farmhouse for large family gatherings, along with a pool, grills and campfire circles. There are cows, donkeys, goats, and opportunities to pick blackberries, apples and grapes when in season. Hike under tall pecan trees on forest trails, rent a canoe, go for a swim, grill out or just relax on the front porch. Guests can also take a day trip to the charming town of High Springs, which has antique and art shops, or go tubing at Ichetucknee Springs, which is only minutes away.
Contact: 4321 SE County Road 500, Branford, 386-935-2662; smoakhouseranch.com
The Griffin Ranch, Fort McCoy
Old Florida ranch life is still going strong at this 30-acre property just west of the Ocala National Forest and north of Silver Springs State Park. Surrounded by ponds, pastures and woods, guest cottages and turn-of-the-century cabins are furnished with antiques. Hiking scenic trails, paddling along the Ocklawaha River and Scuba diving at nearby Blue Grotto Springs are favorite pastimes. A four-wheeler park just east of the ranch offers off-road adventures and day-trippers can visit the historical town of St. Augustine.
Contact: 11932 E. Highway 316, Fort McCoy, 888-414-2275; thegriffinranch.com.
Cypress House Bed & Breakfast Ranch, Bushnell
Built in the 1990 as a family-style log home, Cypress House is on 10 acres, with a horse stable, swimming pool, fire pit and covered pavilion. Riding lessons and two-hour trail rides in the Withalachoochee Forest are available to guests. Along with rooms, there are also open-air stalls and pastures for guests traveling with their own horses.
Contact: 5175 CR 631C, Bushnell, 352-568-0909; chbandb.com