Stop and Smell the Flowers at White Oak Lavender Farm
On a lush green hill framed by the beautiful Shenandoah mountains, the White Oak Lavender Farm is a vibrant splash of violet along the highway. Flourishing gardens decorate the lawns while a variety of adorable farm animals laze around in the shade. Brightly colored flowers border the deep purple buildings of the gift shop and winery, and the smell of lavender wafts through the air, creating a heavenly atmosphere of relaxation.
Whether you're in Harrisonburg, Virginia to visit JMU, attend a wedding on Sunny Slope Farm, or vacationing in the mountains, this little slice of heaven should be on your itinerary. It's like a spa made from mountains, sunshine, and lavender.
I discovered the White Oak Lavender Farm (WOLF) online at random while researching things to do in the Harrisonburg area. We were attending a wedding nearby on the gorgeous Sunny Slope Farm, and of course, I wanted to explore some of the local sights while we were there!
I knew about Harrisonburg previously because of a friend who attended James Madison University, but I wasn't sure what else the town had to offer. As it turns out, Harrisonburg features quite an interesting variety of local museums, such as the Virginia Quilt Museum, the Museum Of American Jewelry Design and Manufacturing, the Valley Turnpike Museum, and the Harrisonburg Fire Museum.
However, none of these really piqued my interest, and I wanted to see something tucked away in the gorgeous outdoors of the Harrisonburg area. And since we already visited the Shenandoah mountains this year in Charlottesville, the White Oak Lavender Farm caught my eye, mainly because of how unique it sounded.
Now, unlike me, you may be thinking, "Mmm, a lavender farm? Doesn't really sound like my thing." But don't make up your mind just yet! In truth, it's not really a guys-day-out kind of place, but for couples, families, and even a girls-day-out, this is a place you won't want to miss.
First of all, I have to reiterate how absolutely relaxing the atmosphere is. The scent of lavender is frequently associated with relaxation and sleep due to the essential oils craze, and I can see why. You will undoubtedly experience the flowery smell firsthand here in not only the gift shop but also in the gardens. And lavender aside, what better way to unwind than with a leisurely stroll around a sun-filled hillside where you can pet sweet, fluffy animals and chill in a quiet nook as you enjoy the mountain air?
But I'll try not to get ahead of myself before I can give you the details! In a quick summary, the farm has several main components for guests to enjoy: a gift shop, a winery and vineyard, some game areas, and a discovery zone.
The Gift Shop
We began our excursion in the WOLF gift shop, a virtual wonderland of all things lavender. I was impressed by the wide variety of products, many of them handmade, offered in the cozy space. Of course, there were essential oils, soaps, candles, and bath bombs, but the farm went beyond the expected with their selection. They had lavender honey, slushies, teas, and ice cream, as well as lavender-filled sachets and stuffed animals and many, many more items. If you want to stock up on your lavender-scented stash, this is the place to do it!
In the gift shop, you can purchase admission to the Discovery Zone in the back part of the farm. For $3 a person, it's really a steal. We got over an hour of enjoyment out of our self-guided tour and remarked multiple times at what a great deal it was. You can also upgrade your admission to an audio tour at $9 per person, but we enjoyed the farm perfectly well on our own.
The Discovery Zone
The Discovery Zone is a mixture of gardens, lavender, petting zoo, swings, and a drying barn. Fun extras like a duck pond, giant checkers, and swings dot the landscape, and they're not just for the kids! One of the nice touches for the self-guided tour was the signs scattered around the area. Each of these signs displayed fascinating details about the animals, flowers, or buildings nearby so we could learn as we went!
The beginning portion of the Discovery Zone is primarily the petting zoo, and I was surprised at the variety of animals they had! Since I expected the focus of the farm to be lavender, I assumed the petting zoo would be your typical five goats and a donkey kind of thing. But I was pleasantly surprised by how many (adorable) animals they had!
Right outside the gift shop sets the main barn, built in 1901, where we met a couple of cute ponies, several goats, and the farm's turkey, Martha Washington! We also saw a few of the farm's barn swallows, which are part of a family that's been migrating back and forth to the farm since the 1900s.
A few feet away, we discovered the chicken coop, where they had some rather interesting chickens: my favorites were a large, gold-speckled one and a funny little gal that had an afro! I'm not usually into chickens, but the variety of the hens was fun to observe.
At the back of the coop is the home of "The Three Little Pigs," as their sign proclaimed. However, they were three of the chubbiest porkers I have ever seen! We got a kick out of them rolling around in the dirt and waddling around on their tiny legs.
Right behind the pigpen, we visited a huge fluffball of a Flemish rabbit who was definitely eating well, too. The rabbit area has a little house for the rabbits and an area where you can go into part of the pen to pet the rabbit(s) if they come near the fence. Unfortunately, the one we saw didn't want to be petted that day.
Next to the animals, a little garden oasis complete with a bridge and gazebo provides a pleasant spot to enjoy the flowers on the hill and watch the animals if you choose. They also have a giant checkers set laid out right here if you fancy a quick game!
While we were enjoying the gazebo, an adorable congo line of waddling ducks moved our attention to the duck pond in the back corner of the farm. This little oasis, surrounded by shade-giving trees, offered another beautiful place to relax with an awning-covered bench and a bright purple hammock swing as we watched the ducks swim around. The pond is pleasantly landscaped with layered rock formations and a little waterfall.
On our way out, a flock of tiny birds bathing in the waterfall caught our attention. They were so cute, hopping around in the water that I took a video (you're welcome)!
The majority of the remaining discovery zone is broken up into various gardens dispersed with sitting areas and walking paths. You'll get a pleasant whiff of the lavender scent in this area, particularly, making it perfect for a stop in the swings or just a slow stroll through the garden plots. When the lavender is blooming, you can pay to pick some lavender sprigs to take home with you, as well!
Another cool feature here is the "labyrinth," which closely resembles a zen garden. Rows of light rocks create circular paths leading to a set of benches framing the tree in the center.
You'll also find the farm's beehive in this area. Don't be alarmed by this: I don't think we even saw a bee until we discovered the hive. Just don't bother them, and you'll be fine. They're a working part of the farm, and they stayed focused on pollinating and making honey, not terrorizing visitors.
Tucked on the side of the discovery zone is the drying barn where you can get an inside look at the preservation process. The walls of this cottage-like building are lined with bundles of lavender, and it smells incredible! I'm sure there would have been a lot more information had we done the audio tour. However, we still enjoyed checking out the equipment and all the lavender bundles.
After the drying barn, we returned to the main area through the gift shop and checked out the variety of games scattered between the winery and gift shop. We had a great time playing jumbo connect four, tic-tac-toe, and checkers as we perused the rest of the area. I was really impressed by the number of small but enjoyable touches like that they had scattered around the farm.
Daniel and I don't drink, so we skipped through the wine-tasting area, but we spent a little while in the garden adjacent to the parking lot and vineyard. This stone garden area, decked out with purple barrel tables and chairs, provided a great view of the Shenandoah mountains in the distance.
Inside the covered patio, plenty of comfortable chairs and couches create cozy conversation areas, as well. Overall, it was incredibly pleasant.
This section of the farm also allowed us to access some pasture areas that we couldn't reach in the discover zone. Along this section of the fence, we pet a couple of lovely white horses and an incredibly fluffy sheep, as well as watched the trio of llamas lolling around in the shade.
This part of the farm runs right along the parking lot and is free to access. So even if you didn't want to go through the discovery area, you could still check out a few animals and the gift shop!
That about wraps up my overview, but I really can't say enough good things about the White Oak Lavender Farm. We loved it so much, we came away refreshed, and it barely touched our entertainment budget! If you're ever looking for things to do in the Harrisonburg, Virginia area, be sure to stop by WOLF and experience it for yourself!
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