Last updated: 05/08/2023
Discover Charlie's Acres, a rescued farm animal sanctuary that provides incredible experiences for visitors to learn about the heartwarming stories of its residents.
CHARLIE'S ACRES ANIMAL SANCTUARY
About 70 km north of San Francisco, in the city of Sonoma, famous for its wineries, Charlie's Acres Farm Animal Sanctuary is a sanctuary of farm animals who were mistreated, were born with a disability or were destined to become food. Founded by Tracy Vogt in 2016, the venue was created to not only provide a second chance and a forever home for animals that might have ended up on the plate, but also a place where people can meet these amazing animals, hear their stories and make a difference. connection with them.
The idea is to share rescued stories and show people how animals are amazing and intelligent creatures and deserve to be off everyone's plate. As a non-profit animal sanctuary, which depends on donations from the public, the priority is the physical and emotional well-being of rescued animals. Many of the resident animals were rescued from situations of abuse or neglect and are in the process of healing.
There are about 150 rescued animals living on site, including horses, pigs, sheep, chickens, goats, cows, among others. The sanctuary has a wide range of activities, offering various forms of visitation throughout the year, including yoga classes, meditation, picnics, kid-friendly activities, corporate outings and more.
All animals in the sanctuary have a name, they have a life story that is told by one of the volunteers during the tours, they have their needs and desires. When we put names, we personalize each being, creating a very strong bond with the animal. He is not just a number, a head of an ox, pig, sheep or goat, but a sentient living being, with feelings and wills, who creates bonds like us humans. Having this understanding makes it easier to develop empathy and compassion for these wonderful beings just as we do for a dog or a cat.
CURIOSITY: The name of the sanctuary is a tribute to the founder's dog, which is called Charlie. He is the only pet allowed at the sanctuary.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SANCTUARY AND ZOO
Animals residing in a sanctuary can always choose whether or not they want to interact with visitors and reside in the sanctuary for the rest of their lives, being cared for with great care and dedication. In contrast, the purpose of a zoo is profit and entertainment, which means that animals can be forced to be treated regardless of what they want and are often discarded when they are no longer profitable.
KEY EXPERIENCES AT CHARLIE'S ACRES
- COMMUNITY TOURS: Consists of tours through the sanctuary to learn about incredible stories of the resident rescued animals. Duration: 1.5 hour | Entrance: US$ 25 adults; US$ 15 under 12 years old
- PRIVATE TOURS: Consists of private tours of the sanctuary, available for groups of 2 to 10 people. Duration: 2 hours | Entrance: US$ 50 adults; US$ 25 under 13 years old
- SHEEP MEDITATION: Meditate with experienced instructors enjoying the sounds of nature in the presence of rescued sheep residing at the sanctuary. Duration: 1.5 hour | Entrance: US$ 60 (over 14 years old)
- GOAT YOGA: Fun outdoor yoga class for all skill levels that can be attended by goats or sheep that decide to participate. Duration: 1.5 hour | Entrance: US$ 60 (over 14 years old)
- PHOTOGRAPHY TOURS: Experience in which while you visit the sanctuary's animals, a photographer records your moments of interaction with the rescued ones to create a high quality memory of the visit. Duration: 2 hours | Entrance: US$ 350 for up to 4 people
- KIDS DAY CAMP: Experience dedicated to children aged 7-12 to connect with some amazing rescued animals, including goats, sheep, cows, chickens, pigs, through empathy and bonding activities with animals, such as games and crafts. Includes a plant-based lunch. Duration: 3 hours | Entrance: US$ 100
- PLANT-BASED PICNICS: When it comes to a sanctuary that rescues farm animals, it would be inconceivable to allow a picnic where animals are consumed, wouldn't it? Therefore, this experience offers a visit to rescued animals combined with a picnic with vegan cheeses, vegetable charcuterie and local wines in a beautiful picnic area. Duration: 3 hours | Entrance: US$ 104 (tour we did!)
- CORPORATE TEAM BUILDING: Business-focused connecting experience for groups of up to 20 people that includes a farm tour and may include a vegan picnic. Duration: 2 hours (tour only) 3 hours (tour + lunch) | Entrance: US$ 50 (tour only) or US$ 65 per person (tour + lunch)
- SCHOOL FIELD TRIPS: Experience dedicated to school groups to meet rescued animals with an optional vegan lunch. You must email email@example.com to schedule.
- VIRTUAL TOURS: Virtual tours via zoom that can be for private or individual events. Duration: 1 hour | Entrance: US$ 15
- VIRTUAL CORPORATE OFFSITE: Zoom virtual tours for companies that can be for private or individual events. There are two options available: meet a selection of rescued animals or a full tour of the sanctuary Duration: from 30 minutes to 1 hour | Entrance: US$ 200 (animal selection) to US$ 250 (complete tour)
- GOAT2MEETING: Virtual experience for companies that want to take a short break from daily activities to participate in a short 15-minute video call to meet goats, pigs, sheep, cows and other animals. Duration: 30 minutes | Entrance: US$ 150
- VIRTUAL FIELD TRIPS: Virtual Zoom experience to meet a variety of rescued farm animals. Duration: 1 hour | contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information
*Prices researched in July/2023
OUR EXPERIENCE AT CHARLIE'S ACRES
We have been vegan since 2018 and were delighted with a tour we took a few years ago in a Sanctuary for abused elephants in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Looking for vegan activities in Northern California, we found Charlie's Acres Farm Animal Sanctuary. We were super happy to see the different types of activities offered by the sanctuary and decided to schedule the Plant-Based Picnic, the Vegan picnic together with rescued animals, which combines a complete visit to the sanctuary with a picnic with cheeses, charcuterie and vegan wines.
We arrived at the site on a summer day with record and very unusual temperatures that reached 37ºC. In an arid and dry place, the thermal sensation ends up being much greater. As soon as we parked near the Visitor Center, a new gray building, we entered to check-in. There we were received by two employees, one of whom was our guide, the friendly Greg.
The interior is very charming, with a children's area, a small shop with products from the sanctuary (including stuffed animals from the main rescued animals and vegan cheeses from Miyokos that we love) and a wall with information panels about the history of the place and important issues. regarding the mass production of animals for consumption, you impacts for the planet (water consumption, environmental impacts), plant-based food (information about vegetable protein, nutrient sources and health benefits), and animal friendly alternatives (both in food and clothing, for example).
>> FIRST STOP: BIRDS
In addition to us, two more couples also participated in the tour. We started by leaving the Visitors Center and Greg explained a little about the origin of the sanctuary and its founder. A first stop is area dedicated to birds: chickens, roosters, turkeys, ducks.
The area also has the illustrious presence of Esperanza (also called Spy), a goat that was born without hind hooves and has a mild neurological condition (there's a plush of hers for sale in the Visitor's Center shop which is cute!).
What left me enchanted was the care taken in having information about each animal, a description of each one of them, what each one eats, the medicines they need to take. A very special care. In addition, the place where the animals are kept is super clean and there is no strong smell as expected.
>> SECOND STOP: GOATS AND SHEEP
We continued walking until we reached our second stop in the area where the goats (and also some chickens). The animals are very docile and some of them may have visual and hearing impairments. Therefore, our guide Greg showed us how to interact with each animal (if they wanted to interact with us, of course).
In this space is the area for the practice of yoga on the promenade called Goat Yoga. We were even privileged to see some goats moving to the yoga area in search of shade and relaxing on the yoga mats.
Then we also saw the goats, which are in a separate space, since females and males are separated. Paulo took the opportunity to feed and interact a lot with the animals. From this location, there is a very nice view of the vines of a neighboring winery. After all, we are in the Sonoma Valley region, one of the coolest wine regions in California.
>> THIRD STOP: COWS/OXES AND HORSES
We continued walking until we reached two areas with a few horses that were further away, but the focus is on cows and oxen.
There our guide let us feed those huge and very intelligent animals, which are so sweet! I swear that one of the cows (or ox, I don't remember!) touched my heart. The eyes and long, almost red eyelashes reminded me of my dog Luna (rescued in China from a dog slaughterhouse).
It's impressive how these animals respond positively to all the affection, care and food we offer them. They are very good, kind and smart. At these times I keep remembering all the years of my life in which I fed on these incredible beings and I am grateful that they are no longer part of my plate.
>> FOURTH STOP: PIGS
There are some spaces for the pigs because they vary a lot physically. It has already been scientifically proven that pigs are very intelligent beings and are aware of everything that happens in their surroundings, they develop relationships and everything else. We went through 3 or 4 areas of light, dark, hairy, piebald pigs, alone, with the family…a little bit of everything!
Once again, I was impressed with the space that the volunteers put all the information about the animals, with photos, information about each one of them, medicines and food they consume.
>> FIFTH STOP: VEGAN PICNIC
After about 2 hours getting to know the animals, we returned to the Visitor Center to wash our hands and start our picnic. There is a beautiful area with tables at the side of the building, but the day was so hot that we ended up doing everything indoors.
We were delighted with the picnic because it's better than many tastings with wine pairings out there. Each of the couples received a super well served vegan cold cuts board which included vegan cheeses from Miyokos, some vegan charcuterie items (one of them reminded me of the mortadella flavor), jam, mustard, cherries, dates and rosemary garnish.
There were also biscuits to go with it and also a snack-type crispy corn. Furthermore, they served 3 types of wine (rosé, white and red) from the winery Etude Wines, from Napa Valley. We've been to many wineries in the area and it was by far the best dining experience we've had! In addition to the abundance, everything was very tasty and the conversation with the other tour participants and the guide was great! We could have stayed there chatting longer, but we needed to get back home to feed Luna and take her for walks.
IS IT WORTH TAKING THE PICNIC TOUR?
No doubt it was one of the coolest experiences we've ever had in our lives! The tour managed to align a huge awareness about the animals along with a wonderful picnic. The only point we thought they could emphasize more was on why veganism is important and the awareness that we can have a fulfilling life without having to exploit any species. The tour could start at the Visitor Center in front of the information panels mentioned above before heading to see the animals cared for with all the care and respect they deserve.
TIPS FOR VISITING CHARLIE'S ACRES
- Wear comfortable clothing and closed footwear appropriate for the environment. As much as it seems obvious to say that going in high heels and a short dress or shirt and dress shoes are not good options for the occasion, there are those who go on the tour this way (we saw it!). Don't be that person!
- Protect yourself from the sun by using sunscreen on both your face and body, and bring a hat or cap and sunglasses on sunny days.
- Take a bottle of water for the walk. The tour can be long, depending on the tour you choose, and you will need to stay hydrated, especially on hotter days.
- Do not take the tour with food in your purse, backpack, pocket, etc. Leave any food items in the car. The sanctuary requests that visitors do not consume any food of animal origin on site.
- Don't take your pet along for the ride. It is forbidden for your pet to accompany you during the tour and it is not recommended to leave your pet in the car for such a long time, for safety reasons.
- Go with an open mind to understand the work done at the sanctuary and understand the importance of the existence of places like it. Learning something new is incredible and the first step is to be willing to listen to why people decide not to eat animals and their derivatives.
- Address: 3201 Napa Rd, Sonoma, CA 95476, United States of America
- Schedules: open daily from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm
- Entrance: varies depending on the chosen activity
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Read more about Sonoma:
- Sonoma Valley: Wineries, cities, attractions and tips
- Sonoma Historic Park and the Origin of the California Flag
- Petaluma Adobe: Historic Park in California's Sonoma Valley
- Sonoma Valley: The Girl & The Fig Restaurant
- Sonoma Valley: Francis Ford Coppola Winery
- California: Snoopy Gang Museum in Sonoma Valley
- Sonoma Raceway: NASCAR and Formula Indy Raceway in California
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- Highway 1: Detailed Roadmap from San Francisco to Los Angeles
- What to do in Los Angeles – 4 to 6 days itinerary
- California: What to do in San Diego – 3 or 4 days itinerary
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