Doors Are Open to Iowa’s First Authentic “Farm Stay”
One trend for travelers is enjoying unique, yet authentic and local experiences you can’t find at the office, down the street or from mainstream motel or hotel. Examples include camping in a yurt in Clear Lake, Iowa, Sleeping Under the Sea at SEA LIFE Aquarium in Minnesota’s Mall of America, and embracing winter at Quebec’s Hotel de Glace, North America’s only ice hotel.
A North Central Iowa dairy family is offering a unique travel experience by combining a sleep experience with agritourism. Dan and Lynn Bolin of Clarksville, Iowa, opened New Day Dairy Guest Barn in December 2019. Attached to their free-stall dairy barn and robotic milking parlor, the loft of the Guest Barn features two cow-gazing windows. Each of the three bedrooms has a private attached bathroom. A kitchen and dining area finish out the space.
“We’re offering a new experience that will help connect folks from the city and country plus give people an understanding of where their food comes from by creating a space like nothing else,” says Lynn, who grew up near Minneapolis and met her husband when they were both attending Iowa State University.
After living abroad for two years, Dan and Lynn returned home to his family’s farm. Dan is a fifth generation Iowa dairyman. He and Lynn expanded their operation in 2015 by building a new barn, and “Rita the robot” began milking their 110 cows. Dan and Lynn feel blessed to work daily with his grandparents and parents. Dan’s mom, Pam Bolin, also is a leader in the dairy industry.
One advantage the Bolin’s farm has is that it’s just a short drive from many interesting attractions that also offer unique experiences. Because more Americans are traveling by car and opting to take shorter trips, those interested in booking a farm stay at New Day Dairy Guest Barn may enjoy day trips to nearby places like:
- Barn Happy
- Food and shopping in Downtown Cedar Falls
- Lost Island Water Park and Go-Karts in nearby Hudson, Iowa
- Hansen Dairy of Hudson where you can eat homemade ice cream on another picturesque farm
- John Deere Tractor & Museum or factory tours in Waterloo, Iowa
Cedar River (Charles City)
- Coffee shops, restaurants and shopping
- White Water Park
- Carrie Chapman Catt’s girlhood home (where you can pick apples in the fall)
- Catch the Christmas Spirit in Charles City
North Iowa (Mason City, Clear Lake, Sheffield and Dougherty)
- Music Man Square, Meredith Wilson Museum and Meredith Wilson Footbridge
- Memories that Last a Lifetime Are Made in Clear Lake: The Surf Ballroom, Buddy Holly Crash Site, Classic Car Shows and summer festivals
- Northwestern Steakhouse
- What To Do with Kids in Clear Lake
- Frank Lloyd Wright: Architecture and Eats in Mason City
- Tyden Farm No. 6 in rural Dougherty
- Enchanted Acres pumpkin patch, Sheffield, open annually from mid-September through October)
- Block 10 @ 1921 City Hall in Sheffield for coffee, pastries or lunch
Northeast Iowa (Decorah)
- Seed Saver’s Exchange
- Whippy Dip and Mabe’s Pizza, which was voted “Top 100 Places to Eat before You Die”
- Vesterheim Norwegian Museum
SIDE BAR: Click on links above to related blogs for a “sneak peek” at these northern Iowa attractions.
To help consumers stay connected after they leave the farm, New Day Dairy started a monthly newsletter. Readers can learn how many calves were born that month, which cow is producing the most milk and special activities on the farm. You also have a chance to win a free night’s stay in the New Day Dairy GuestBarn. Click here to enter!
“Ultimately, the food we eat is our common thread, and food has become a destination. Rural America is becoming a destination, too. The New Day Dairy Guest Barn is the only place in Iowa where you can authentically enjoy both,” says Lynn. “Helping others understand the source of their food isn’t the supermarket – it’s the farm – is important to us. Staying overnight on a real working farm acquaints guests with their food in a new way.”
Skillet Mac & Cheese
¼ cup butter
1 (8 oz.) package shell or elbow macaroni
½ cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 cups water
1 ½ tablespoons flour
¾ cup milk
2 cups shredded co-jack cheese
1 tablespoon parsley
Turn electric skillet to 200 degrees. Melt the butter. Then add macaroni, onion, salt and pepper. Turn up heat to 260 degrees; cook about 5 minutes, stir occasionally. Add the water; turn up heat and bring to boil. Cover and simmer at 200 degrees for 6 to 12 minutes, or until the macaroni is tender to taste. Sprinkle on the flour and stir; then stir in milk. Add the cheese. Simmer about 5 more minutes until the cheese melts. Sprinkle parsley on top.