Farm Sanctuary is a non-profit, charitable organization and you can visit Farm Sanctuary Watkins Glen to see the animals. Founded in 1986, Farm Sanctuary is the largest farm animal rescue group and protection organization in the United States. They have two animal sanctuaries: one in Watkins Glen, NY (their first sanctuary), and one in southern California near Los Angeles.
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These sanctuaries have been home to thousands of rescued animals over the years. Their mission is to protect farm animals from cruelty, inspire change in the way society treats and views farm animals, and to promote compassionate vegan living.
Justin and I took an extended weekend getaway to Watkins Glen and the Finger Lakes. We spent the day in Watkins Glen (hiking the Watkins Glen Gorge and dining in town), followed by an overnight stay at Farm Sanctuary.
The next morning, we took a tour of Farm Sanctuary, met the resident animals, and continued to Ithaca, New York. We went for a walk at Taughannock Falls and hiked Robert H. Treman State Park before enjoying some delicious vegan waffles in Ithaca.
Why Does Farm Sanctuary Exist?
Throughout the United States, Canada, and many other countries in the world, industrialized factory farming is a standard practice. Animals are not allowed to roam freely outdoors in pastures as many idealized advertisements portray.
Sadly, cows, pigs, sheep, goats, chickens, turkeys, and other animals can barely move in these small spaces in giant warehouses. Standard factory farming practices are to de-beak, de-toe, and dock tails without anesthesia.
These animals do not have access to sunlight, wholesome food, or any freedom to exhibit their natural behaviors. Their bodies have been manipulated so they grow larger than they are supposed to at alarming rates, so much that their bones break because they cannot support their own bodies.
These regular abusive practices largely remain invisible to the public. And this is where Farm Sanctuary has stepped up – to help farm animals. Through rescue, education, and advocacy to change the laws, Farm Sanctuary is committed to ending animal cruelty and promoting compassionate, vegan living.
There are rescued farm animals at Farm Sanctuary all have their own story. Many of these beautiful creatures were discarded for whatever reason, some escaped their confines, and others were rescued in natural disasters. You’ll be able to hear some of these stories when you visit. The farm animals here act as ambassadors for all of the factory farmed animals in North America.
Spending the Night at Farm Sanctuary
Farm Sanctuary is situated about ten minutes outside of Watkins Glen in the surrounding countryside. We were fortunate enough to be able to spend one night in a cozy cabin on the farm property itself. It’s a unique experience as there are only three cabins and three cottages in total.
The check-in time at Farm Sanctuary is between 3:00 and 5:00pm; otherwise, the cabin key and information about staying overnight at the farm is left in a small box attached near the front entrance of the “People Barn” (the main Visitor Center). We made it there just in time to introduce ourselves to some of the staff members.
Our Cabin at Farm Sanctuary Watkins Glen
One of the friendly employees gave us a quick tour of the facilities for overnight guests. We stayed at Cabin #3 (out of three cabins for rent there). Some of the other guests sat out on their porches and we were warmly greeted by all, including a friendly resident cat.
The cabins are very comfy, cozy, and welcoming. It felt like home right away to us. In fact, it was so cozy that Justin passed out on the bed for a little snooze as soon as we arrived, so we can attest that the beds are incredibly comfortable! Admittedly, I closed my eyes and rested for a little bit, too.
The room has two double beds, a sitting area, a fridge, and there are pictures of resident farm animals hanging all around the room. The cabins also have air conditioning / heating, so you don’t have to worry about roughing it.
There is also a book there for guests to write about their stay at the farm. It was really nice to read about how guests who had stayed prior to us in our cabin had thoroughly enjoyed spending time at Farm Sanctuary Watkins Glen. Of course, we added our own story as well.
There are also many pamphlets and information about area attractions, shopping, and local restaurants that serve vegan food in the region. There are so many restaurants in Watkins Glen and Ithaca that cater to vegans and vegetarians. We loved Glen Mountain Market, Rooster Fish Brewing, and Great Escape Ice Cream.
Bathrooms and Showers
There is a communal bathroom/shower in the Visitor’s Center to use during your stay. This might catch you off guard as you may not like the idea of sharing a bathroom or having to walk a short distance from your cabin. Fear not: the bathrooms were a very short walk from the cabin and we didn’t feel inconvenienced by this at all.
The bathrooms are spotless, and I actually didn’t encounter anyone using the bathroom or shower at the same time as me during our whole stay. The showers are in a separate area from the bathroom, and there are two showers in each restroom. They provide plenty of towels in each cabin, along with a complementary bar of handcrafted vegan soap from a local business.
The Resident Cat, Sorella
Meet Sorella: She’s one of the resident cats that lives at Farm Sanctuary. This beautiful girl greeted us when we arrived to the farm at the Visitor Centre. After our little nap in the cabin, we opened our door to find her laying on our porch! She loved getting some attention from us! We were really missing our cat, Chickpea, so it was nice to have a little cat around while we were away from home!
There was a beautiful sunset that evening before darkness set in. It was an incredibly clear night, and as we were far enough out in the country away from light pollution, we were able to see plenty of stars above. At night, our kitty friend, Sorella was hanging out on our cabin porch. In fact, she was waiting for us on our welcome mat when we returned from dinner!
When we opened the door, she kept trying to run into our cabin, so we eventually invited her to come inside. Sorella made a beeline for the bed as soon as she got into the room, jumping up on the plush pillows and blanket. We would have loved to have her stay in our room, but we didn’t know if she might have wanted to use her litter box in the night, so we let her back outdoors.
Breakfast at Farm Sanctuary Watkins Glen NY
We awoke to a beautiful, sunny day without a cloud in sight! We could hear the faint sounds of roosters crowing off in the distance. Included in our stay at Farm Sanctuary was a complimentary one-hour farm tour before it opened to the public, plus a vegan continental breakfast.
They serve a buffet breakfast between 8:00 and 10:00am in the Visitor Center’s video room, so you could grab some food at your convenience. There are plenty of yummy choices, including bagels with vegan cream cheese or jam, huge vegan pastries (this one was raspberry and it was so good!), oatmeal, fruit, coffee, tea, and juice.
It was definitely the best buffet breakfast that I’ve ever had as a vegan. Typically, continental breakfasts at hotels are not too great for someone who follows a vegan diet. It was really nice to be able to eat anything and everything.
Tips to Plan Your Stay at Farm Sanctuary
Here are some tips to help you plan your overnight stay at the Farm Sanctuary B&B. There are cottages and cabins at Farm Sanctuary now. The cottages are open a little later in the season than the cabins, though everything is shut down in the winter.
This is an extremely popular accommodation and there are only three cabins and three cottages available. They book up fast. If you’d like to visit, be sure to book as early as possible. We originally wanted to stay on the Saturday night (the actual night of my birthday), but it was already booked up. Thankfully, there was one cabin left on the Friday night, which ended up working out great. The cabins are open from May 1st – October 31st each year.
Membership at Farm Sanctuary
To stay at the cabins, you must be a member of Farm Sanctuary. This means that you will have donated at least $25 in the past year to their charitable organization. Not a member? No worries! You can easily contribute when you book your reservation over the phone! Justin and I were already members as we love supporting Farm Sanctuary and all that they do to help the plight of farm animals.
Farm Tours for Guests of the B&B
You are invited to take a complimentary one-hour tour of the farm at 10:00am before any other members of the public arrive for their tours later in the day. After your tour is done, you’re able to explore the farm as much as you’d like. You are not permitted to enter any enclosed areas unless a staff member is present. Also, you can join in on any public tours throughout the day, too.
Vegan Policy at Farm Sanctuary Watkins Glen
To respect the rescued animals at Farm Sanctuary, as well as the beliefs of the charity, please do not bring any meat, eggs, or dairy on the property of the farm. While you don’t have to be vegan or vegetarian to stay here, please be respectful of these wishes.
If you have any questions about veganism, the staff would be happy to assist you in any way possible. There are plenty of vegan dining options in the area, and the gift shop at the sanctuary has so many books and movies about going vegan.
Take a Tour Without Staying Overnight
You are more than welcome to visit the farm without staying overnight! You can take a public tour of the farm to meet all of the rescued animals. All of the details about booking tours and overnight stays are up on the official website.
Taking a Tour of Farm Sanctuary Watkins Glen
Most people do not have regular interactions with farm animals. Some of us city dwellers have never petted a cow, pig, or sheep. It is a great experience for all, young and old, to be able to see rescued farm animals living peacefully.
Farm Sanctuary offers public tours throughout the summer months, several days a week. As we stayed overnight on the shelter premises, we were offered a private tour in the morning one hour before the sanctuary became open to the public. You can easily book a tour without staying overnight at Farm Sanctuary Watkins Glen.
Peaceful and Picturesque Watkins Glen, New York
Watkins Glen is a beautiful town in the Finger Lakes region of New York state. The farm is located just outside Watkins Glen among the rolling countryside, about 15 minutes from town. Surrounding the farm is a hilly terrain filled with trees. Everything is so green.
There were only four of us attending our private tour. There are three cabins on the property for guests to stay overnight, and one of the cabin’s guests had done multiple tours over their stay at the farm. So, it was just Justin, myself, and another young couple on our tour.
Our tour guide was very knowledgeable, answering any questions that we had along the way. She also told us which animals were the friendliest, and which ones may not be as approachable. We were merely guests at the animals’ homes. You could easily tell which ones wanted our attention, and which ones felt like keeping to themselves.
With that said, most of the animals were quite friendly and welcomed human interaction. It is amazing how these animals can be so forgiving of humans when they came from such abusive situations at the factory farms and stockyards.
Meeting the Cows at Farm Sanctuary Watkins Glen
The first place we visited was one of the cow pastures. There were barns to shelter the cows in the evening, and huge pastures for them to roam freely in all day long. Here, they happily munched on grass together. The cows are very friendly.
One of the cows was really friendly and gave me a giant lick up my whole leg! It felt rough like sandpaper and caught me off-guard – I’m pretty sure that I laughed up a storm when that happened! I could have spent all day in these pastures with these gentle giants, but we had many other animals to meet on our tour.
Sheep and Goat Barn
Next up, we visited the barn that housed many sheep and goats. Our tour guide told us that sometimes, the sheep can be easily spooked by people entering their home. She said not to take it personally if the sheep weren’t very friendly. We walked cautiously into the barn and observed the numerous sheep and goats laying around on piles of hay.
Within moments, one sheep emerged from the crowd and slowly approached me. I crouched down beside him an gave him some pets on his woolly head. Soon, another emerged and walked towards us. In no time, contrary to our tour guide’s words, we were surrounded by many sheep and goats, all wanting some scratches and attention!
One sheep kept sticking his head towards me when I pet another because he wanted more scratches. One of the sheep even put his head in towards my chest and leaned in towards me, as if to give a hug! It just melted my heart. The goats were incredibly friendly as well, wanting just as much attention as the sheep! They were all just too cute.
Turkeys and Chickens
The next barn we visited was home to many turkeys and chickens. It was amazing to watch the turkeys communicate back and forth with their little clucks. They are very chatty creatures!
One of the turkeys there has incredible feathers that make him quite the sight to behold. And apparently he knows how good looking he is. One time, they put a full length mirror on the ground in front of him, and he admired himself in the mirror all day long.
It was also fun to pick some blades of grass and let the turkeys eat it out of our hands. We were able to pet the turkeys and they liked to be scratched beneath their feathers and all over! The eggs that the chickens produce regularly on the farm are not consumed by people; rather, they are crushed up into the animal’s food and fed back to them as a source of protein.
Meeting the Pigs at Farm Sanctuary Watkins Glen
The last main stop of our tour was to meet the pigs in their barn. The pigs are allowed a cool place to nap and lounge around in the barn filled with hay, and they also have a large outdoor area with ponds by which to submerge themselves. Pigs love cooling off in these outdoor ponds, and adore rooting around in the mud.
The pigs can come and go freely from the barn as they please. We did see one pig lounging about outdoors, but many were sleeping inside away from the hot sun. While we didn’t want to disturb their slumbers too much, we did give many of the pigs some scratches on the belly which they rather enjoyed.
Free Time Around The Farm
After our official tour had been completed, we were allowed to wander around the farm premises as we liked. We were told not to enter any pens without a staff member there with us for safety reasons. As guests at the Farm Sanctuary Bed and Breakfast, we were allowed to spend the day at the farm even after check-out time (which was at noon) and join any other public tours if we felt like it.
Justin and I walked over to the goose barns where many geese and ducks lived between a couple of barns and an outdoor pond area. The geese are temperamental at times, so you aren’t allowed in the pen with them. We observed them from behind the fence wandering and quacking about.
We thoroughly enjoyed our morning at Farm Sanctuary and it was really rewarding to be able to spend time with the farm animals. It is amazing to see some of the inner workings behind the scenes at a farm. Many of us are accustomed to city life and do not think about where our food comes from. We should all take steps to minimize the harm that we cause other living beings.
More Accommodations in Watkins Glen
Looking for where to stay in Watkins Glen if you can’t stay at Farm Sanctuary? There are lots of awesome hotels in Watkins Glen and vacation rentals. I’ve gone glamping in Watkins Glen at Seneca Sol and highly recommend the experience. It’s a beautiful property where you’ll be able to immerse yourself in nature while maintaining many comforts of home.
Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel
The Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel is a beautiful property that truly makes you feel like you’re on vacation. There are spacious and modern rooms, a spa and wellness center, an indoor pool, a fitness centre, and gorgeous lake views. This is a luxury property that I’m sure you’ll adore.
More Places to Stay in Watkins Glen
There are tons of places to stay in Watkins Glen, NY. Browse the map below to compare prices and locations to find an amazing accommodation.
More Things to Do in the Finger Lakes
Here are all of the other great things to do in the region, aside from what I’ve already mentioned within the article in Watkins Glen and Ithaca, NY.