Sustainable--and affordable--farm fun for the family
by Jen Ryan
If you think hayrides are only reserved for fall in New England and the best grilled cheese is found at the local greasy spoon, then you don't know what you're missing.
Visitors to the Bradenton area can find yearround hayrides, grilled cheese sandwiches made from cheese that doesn't come in individual slices, and much more at Dakin Dairy Farm in Myakka City, Fla.
This family-friendly farm offers a great way to spend the day exploring another aspect of the Bradenton area's booming ecotourism business. The 250-acre working farm focuses on feeding its animals only high-quality grasses, provides dairy products to over 150 area restaurants, and also serves as a way for locals and visitors to learn about sustainable dairy in a fun way.
Owner Karen Dakin says a trip to the farm is perfect for a family day trip.
"[The farm] really is a 'farm fun' experience," Dakin says. "The kids learn so much, but have so much fun doing so, not to mention they can play all day in the five-acre farm fun play area, and they do!"
The best way to get the full farm experience is to take the full tour. For $10 per person, visitors get a walking tour and a hayride. They also get to see a pig race, make real butter with Dakin Heavy Cream then sample some of the farm's best milk products, including chocolate and regular milk and Dakin Spiced Egg Nog during the holiday seasons.
Visitors will notice a distinct difference between Dakin's milk and other milk they've drank before. That difference is a direct result of the farm's focus on sustainable farming and organic practices. Because the farm focuses on feeding its animals only fresh grass, its milk has a creamier texture and sweeter taste than the milk you get from the local grocery store.
After the tour, families are encourage to stay and try some of the farm's picnic specials. Dakin says the kids especially love the picnics, noting that when you couple the farm tour with "a picnic under the oaks, the kids don't want to leave.
Picnic meals are affordably priced at $5-6. Choices include cheesy grilled cheese sandwiches, homemade tomato soup, homemade pulled pork, campfire-roasted hot dogs, fresh-squeezed lemonade, and more.
The price of the picnic also includes entrance to the farm's 5-acre farm fun play area, which lets kids play on tire swings, feed goats, explore a hay maze, and take a ride down slides nestled among oak trees.
For families not interested in spending the whole day at the farm, they can also enjoy a hay ride, cow train ride, or admission into just the farm fun play area.
The Dakin Dairy Farm, which has been open to the public for 5 years, has helped "establish the Bradenton area as having 'lots to choose from' for affordable family entertainment," according to Dakin.
Dakin also notes that the farm is a little something different for families who may want some time away from kid-friendly beaches and water sports.
"[Dakin] is a real departure from being at the beach and yet so close," she says.
Dakin Dairy is located in Myakka City, Florida. Email email@example.com or visit its website for more information.
Jen Ryan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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