We don’t know about you, but we’ve always harbored a Night at the Museum dream where we cuddle with adorable rescued animals while enjoying vegan food and the company of like-minded friends. With Thanksgiving right around the corner—a holiday that celebrates unity and thankfulness—we can’t think of a better way to show our gratitude than to support organizations that save animals from slaughter. And since we’re big fans of slumber parties, why not turn that lovefest into a getaway, animals and all? With scrumptious vegan food on the menu—and plenty of pig, cow, and goat residents—here are five sanctuaries with built-in lodging facilities.
Grass Valley, CA
In the Sierra Nevada foothills, Animal Place, founded in 1989, offers two facilities dedicated to rescuing animals from cruelty—a 600-acre sanctuary in Grass Valley, CA and a (closed-to-the-public) 60-acre rescue ranch in Vacaville, CA, where animals are rehabilitated and rehomed with loving human companions. In Grass Valley, permanent residents include animals who are rescued from from small and large farms, negligent households, and laboratories. The Guest House—where bunk beds can be rented for a $75-100 donation per night—welcomes visitors to “cuddle with the cows, rub pig bellies, feed treats to chickens, and hang with the bunnies.” Guests are treated to a vegan continental breakfast each morning, and asked to bring their own cruelty-free toiletries. Animal Place also hosts two-day themed “Weekend Staycations” where visitors can take cooking classes, practice meditation, enjoy prepared dinners, and discuss animal-rights issues. If you’re looking for plans for Thanksgiving, see you for a festive Vegan Thanksgiving 101, taking place during the weekend of November 11.
The White Pig
At The White Pig’s restored 19th century farmhouse nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, guests can choose from two rooms or a private cottage on the gorgeous, 170-acre Briar Creek Farm. Surrounded by babbling creeks, hiking trails, and a cacophony of animals who call the farm home—lucky residents include rescued racehorse Teddy, Cassandra the pig (and her eight adorable piglets), former stray dog Barkley, and pig-loving cat Teeny. The White Pig—named after the sanctuary’s first miniature pot-bellied white-colored pig Norman—offers three special packages, should you want to sweeten your stay. The Wine Package ($35) includes a wine tour of the surrounding Mountain Cove Vineyard, two wine glasses, and a picnic lunch for two; the Massage Package ($180) includes two one-hour Swedish massages; and the Romance Package ($35) is a smooching session waiting to happen, with a provided bottle of vegan red wine and a box of The White Pig’s vegan chocolates. Ooh la la!
Watkins Glen, NY
The grandparent of all farmed animal rescue organizations, Farm Sanctuary was co-founded by vegan legend Gene Baur in 1986. Its flagship location in Watkins Glen, NY is home to nearly 500 rescued farmed animals. If you book a stay at either their three cabins or three newly-built tiny houses (each named after a rescued resident), you can bet you’ll be cozy. Farm Sanctuary is credited with turning the Finger Lakes town into a vegan-friendly mecca, due to their frequent guests who request vegan dining options, so finding cruelty-free grub around town is no problem. While Watkins Glen is their only shelter location to offer on-site accommodations, the organization also currently has two California spots (Los Angeles and Orland), and a special spot in Colts Neck, NJ, owned by funnyman Jon Stewart and his vegan wife, Tracey.
Piebird Vegan Farmstay
An 11-year-old vegan “agri-tourist” destination, Piebird Farm Sanctuary offers refuge to chickens, turkeys, goats, ducks, and bees. The main guesthouse is an expansive Victorian home decked out in rustic decor—more accurately described by the sanctuary as the type of furniture you’d have if “your grandma was a hippie activist.” Set against ancient pines, The Birdhouse Cottage is ideal for families, and has a full kitchen where you can prepare your own meals. The on-site farm offers workshops on veganic farming, grows a variety of fruit and vegetables, and sells heirloom seeds that you can take home and plant. Speaking of food, Piebird features meals-by-reservation (where chefs prepare vegan, whole foods-based meals using produce directly from their farm), catering services, cooking classes, and special cookies made with whole spelt flour and sweetened only with orange juice and maple syrup.
Catskill Animal Sanctuary
Located in the beautiful Hudson Valley of New York, the Homestead at Catskill Animal Sanctuary is a restored, pre-Civil War residence with fire places, wood-planked floors, and exposed brick walls. Each guest receives a complimentary vegan breakfast and a pass to hang out with the sanctuary’s 300 rescued animals—including Amos and Jesse, two steer who were rescued amongst a group of 207 animals when the Catskill Game Farm closed in 2006. If you make it there on November 12, the sanctuary is hosting a three-hour class where you’ll not only learn everything you need to know to prepare the vegan Thanksgiving feast of the century—such as Stuffed Seitan Roulade, Rich Vegetable Gravy, and Classic Pumpkin Pie with Coconut Whipped Cream—but you’ll get to meet the sanctuary’s loving turkeys.
Photo courtesy of Marji Beach/Animal Place
Photo courtesy of Marji Beach/Animal Place