Saturday, December 23, 2023

Fun on Fair Oaks Farm

 

I had never heard of Fair Oaks Farms when I fellow travel writer suggested it to me. When I found out it was a complete destination just an hour and a half away from Champaign, I quickly made arrangements to take some friends, a willing to play eight year old, and my dog, Teddy 

The name may be familiar to you if you drink Fairlife milk or protein shakes. This is much more than a farm, though, it’s a full destination, and we took advantage of anything it has to offer.

The first thing we did when arriving was check into the hotel. There is a Fairfield Inn on the property so once we parked, we didn’t have to get into the car again until it was time to go home. The building was even set up to look like a barn, but on the inside it was all about a modern hotel.

Our suite was large, with two beds and a pullout couch. Aubree took the couch. Teddy tried his best to join her. We had a microwave and refrigerator in the room, and an indoor pool downstairs.

After we got our things settled, we headed to the Dairy Adventure first. It was a short walk away and the path was clear for me to take my scooter. The building was filled with hands-on activities and selfie spots for kids and adults. It was also about learning about doing things on the farm, such as milking a cow. 

From there we got on the bus to tour the milking production building. Pets are welcome in the hotel and main areas, but not where there are farm animals. Since Teddy is a service dog and never left my lap, he was welcome.

When the bus returned us to the main complex we were pretty hungry and ready to taste some milk products. Ice cream was our choice and the Cowfé was the perfect place to have it. There are about a half dozen flavors. All we had were delicious.

We took a walk after the ice cream to see some of the mom cows with their calves and then went on to the rope course.  Teddy and I stayed on the scooter and observed, but Aubree, her mom Jessica, and Brittany enjoyed the climbing.

The next building we headed to was the Crop Adventure. It also contained plenty of learning experiences. Aubree had fun “shopping” in a grocery store and learning where products come from. I learned a lot about the farm as the boards explained how Fair Oaks has fed seven billion people, and how far modern production has come over the years.

We rested in the room for a little while before heading to the Farmhouse Restaurant. It was getting cold out and we were glad we could get there from the hotel without going outside. The restaurant was decorated for the holidays, with a few cow statues here and there.

The menu has something for everyone and contains a lot of items from the farm, including the popular cheese curds, which we agreed were delicious. I loved the Pig Adventure sandwich. It is a hickory smoked pork on a brioche roll with their house made barbecue sauce. Brittany had a tender steak.

 

The kids menu has quite a few items, including mac n cheese, pizza, and grilled cheese made with at the Fair Oaks dairy.

After dinner, we went to explore their holiday season event, Forest of Lights. It consists of a long trail, lit with beautiful lights, many shaped as farm animals and equipment. When you get to the halfway point, there is a place to stop by firepits. We had bought s’mores in The Market to toast before then.


It was too cold that night for us to do the sledding hill or ice skating. It was fine because we had a day filled with fun and all of us were ready to go to the hotel and get in our warm beds.

*This was my experience at the Forest of Lights in 2022. Check the website to find out the current offerings.

 

Photos by Marcia Frost and Brittany Lambright

I was hosted on this trip for most of the activities, food, and accommodations, but views are my own.

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