I am pleased to introduce my son-in-law, Ken McCarron, who is an enviromental consultant, and the author of this post. He lives in Denver, Colorado with my daughter, Becca. They have two dogs, Konza and Lexi.
Traveling with kids near Laurel, Mississippi and looking for outdoor activities just a short drive from town? You may want to get out of the car and check out some of these fun attractions for the preteen set. With a dairy farm, a replica homestead and village, pumpkin patches, and corn mazes, you’ll not only find places to stretch your legs, but some family fun and entertainment, too! Every year, some of the farms in the region open their doors and give eager visitors a chance to connect with local farmers and learn about and experience working farms. Most of these activities are seasonal so be sure to check with their websites for scheduled events. Also, please remember these are working farms so wear appropriate clothing, older shoes (not open toe), and maybe a change of clothes/shoes if it is muddy.
Lazy Acres Plantation
(596 Lazy Acres Road, Chunky, MS 39323): Lazy Acres has two main crops, Christmas trees and pumpkins. Like many farms their big season is fall with the harvest of the pumpkins and then later the cutting of Christmas trees. However, they also have an annual Easter egg hunt and Breakfast with the Bunny at the farm in the spring. Easter activities for children include field trips to the Bunny Patch, story time, Easter egg scavenger hunt with prizes, the previously mentioned Breakfast with the Bunny, and chances to learn about the farm and farm animals. During the fall there are wagon rides to the pumpkin patch to pick pumpkins, children’s educational talks about the pumpkin’s life cycle, giant jumping pillow and slide to play on, and a chance to visit with the farm animals. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas there are Christmas lights displays, Santa’s workshop, and a chance to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus. Please see the Lazy Acres website for details about events and schedules
Landrum’s Homestead & Village
(1356 Highway 15 South, Laurel, MS 39443): The Landrum’s Homestead and Village is only a few miles from downtown and has many great opportunities for family style events. The village is a replica of a late 1800s settlement with over 60-buildings including a restored cabin, chapel, schoolhouse, general store, smokehouse, trading post, and a small replica Indian village. The site is open year round (Monday through Saturday) and welcomes walk-in visitors, however they do have special events scheduled throughout the year. During the spring they have Spring Heritage field trips (reservations needed) with demonstrations of some of the everyday tasks for early settlers, wagon rides, nature trails, and tours of the buildings. One of their largest events is the annual Christmas at the Village with visit with Santa, food vendors (kettle corn, smokehouse, and homemade ice cream), hand-made craft vendors, civil war re-enactments, a chance to meet and pet some of the farm animals, and lots of live entertainment. For a list of events and schedules please see their calendar on their website
Ard’s Dairy Farm
(3479 Orchard Lane SE, Ruth, MS 39662): Ard’s Dairy Farm is a working family run dairy farm near Ruth, MS, about a 1.5 hour drive west of downtown Laurel. They offer year round tours of the farm (with reservations) and a chance to learn about dairy farming and “how your milk, butter, cheese, and cream magically appear on your grocery store shelves”. Fall is their biggest time of the year with their Fall Festival in October. Every Saturday in October they have tours, wagon rides, a chance to pet and feed baby calves, and their annual corn maze. At night they have a bonfire, with bring your own marshmallows and hot dog cooking (they do have food available for purchase), and flashlight maze adventures. Please see their website for updated information and schedules.
(650 Leaf River Church Road, Collins, MS 39428): Just half an hour drive from Laurel is another great fall opportunity to learn about daily life on a working 1,500 acre farm. Every fall (2017: September 30 – November 5) Mitchell Farms opens its door to visitors for their annual farm event. Every weekend (also weekday school tours) they have tours of historic log cabins, antique tractors, wagon rides, pumpkin patch, chance to meet some of their “furry farm friends”, corn maze, and many other family fun activities. More information can be found on their website
A Stroka Gene-Us Alpacas
(383 County Road 155, Stringer, MS 39481): Every year the A Stroka Gene-Us Alpacas open up their farm to the public and host the annual Alpaca Festival on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. For groups of 10 or more they do have tours at other times of the year (with reservations) and they also host birthday parties (petting alpacas on your birthday is a must do!). During the annual festival, families will have a chance to learn about these wonderful creatures along with the other farm animals (goats, Scottish highland cow, and four Great White Pyrenees) and the daily workings of the farm. For more information about Alpaca Festival and tours please see their website .