Rent the Dream: 6 Family Vacation Rentals to Brag About

Locations in this article:  San Francisco, CA San Luis Obispo, CA

A Real Farm Experience

Farm Stay 1

Maybe it’s something to do with the technology we’re surrounded with but many urbanites want to get back to basics. With fond memories of a childhood spent singing “Green Acres is the Place to Be,” I’ve always fantasized about living on a farm, so I decided to pack my family up for a weekend farm stay.

The Flip Flop Ranch just outside of Big Bear is a small family farm dedicated to preserving livestock and sharing the farm stay experience. The staff is the actual farmers (many wearing flip flops), and they were wonderfully generous and patient with all the children and animals.

Over the course of the weekend, my son Jett fed and milked goats, pushed a wheelbarrow around like his life depended on it, fed horses, ducks, pigs, and turkeys. He watched a sheep get sheared and picked out an egg from the chicken coop. His first excited words at the crack of dawn (woken to the sound of roosters) the next morning were, “Can I go eat my egg now?” It was a genuinely wonderful family-friendly farm experience.


  • This isn’t luxury bed and breakfast with room service, it’s a working farm so dress and prepare accordingly. If you’re a city gal, leave your kitten heels at home and go for comfort and practicality. Oh, and forget that manicure – your hands will see more dirt than an episode of TMZ.
  • Be prepared to work and share your space with the community. You will be contributing to farm work and making your own breakfast. We stayed in a lovely, large private room and shared a bathroom with others, so make sure you cover your modesty!
  • Expect to get up close and personal with nature. Your kids will be near spiders, animals, farm equipment, and poop. No need to hover, but you do need to be attentive and, if you and yours are squeamish, perhaps you need a hotel.

A two-night stay at Flip Flop Ranch for two adults and two kids under 15 in the Farmhouse costs $350, and includes a country breakfast, and a hands-on farm tour including feeding animals and milking goats. Optional extras include horse-riding and archery.

Rent or own? Rent! Living in the Hollywood Hills, I’ve joked we should just own two goats instead of paying for brush clearance. Turns out farm living ain’t so cheap. Average California farm real estate costs $7,200 per acre, while a 100 acre farm would cost about $400,000 minimum to run (that’s with crops and animals). Goats cost anywhere from $150 to $500 per goat and about $420 a year to feed, plus vaccinations and vet visits.