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Julie Bielenberg is a Denver-based writer who served as managing editor for a regional home and lifestyle publication before starting Tweeter Communications, her editorial services boutique. With a BA in journalism from the University of...

Break out of the box

Agritourism is fast becoming a popular trend in family travel. It’s an extension of eco-tourism and a sensational option for families with children of all ages, as it offers a true hands-on opportunity to explore working farms and ranches. Whether you choose to visit an alpaca farm or an apple orchard, your future agritourism trip can take be anything from a short afternoon jaunt to a week-long expedition -- or more. The opportunities to immerse oneself in all that Mother Nature has to offer abound in every region of the country.

Orchards, Groves and Vineyards

Taking the kids in tow to Napa Valley might not be their idea of a "fun" family vacation. Instead, explore other forms of produce through agritourism that can help educate the kids and expand their food palette. California, Florida and other southern states have an abundance of citrus groves where children can pick lemons, oranges and grapefruits and learn how to turn them into juices and other edibles -- think pies, cookies and healthy granola.

Regardless of your choice of fruits, vegetables, farm or ranch animal, any agritourism trip to explore Mother Earth and her bounty will delight the whole family. It's about the togetherness, education and experience, and you can't go wrong with any selection. Don't forget to check for local festivals that celebrate prolific growing periods for flowers, berries and fruits.

Additional agritourism resources to ponder

California Agricultural Tourism Directory

There are so many options in California. This site will help you narrow down regions while providing oodles of information on particular locations and when to plan a trip.

The Living Farm, Paonia, Colorado

One of the most unique educational farm experiences in the region, The Living Farm's Sustainable Education Center is ahead of its' time. For more about the Center, go to The Living Farm website and select Education Center under the School/Programs menu. If you're lucky, your children are able to visit with the lambs only days after birth on the farm.

Natural North Florida

Berries, butterflies and bees! This website has a large selection of all types of agritourism in the region and even gives details of harvest festivals, when to visit and what not to miss.

Orange County, New York

Yes, there is more than one notable OC in the states! This county in New York is known for its abundance and variety of agriculture. Visit Christmas tree, herb and alpaca farms, amongst a dozen others. The website has a detailed list under farm markets and wineries.

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