We Tried It: Summer Sunflower Event at Waimānalo Country Farms
Take cheerful Insta-worthy family photos, feed farm animals, eat a sunflower head and sip fresh squeezed lemonade.
What: A drive-thru sunflower field experience
Who: A mom, her 4 year-old son and his “mimi” (grandmother)
Where: Waimānalo Country Farms
When: Saturday at 11 a.m.
We’ve taken Duke to select a pumpkin at Waimānalo Country Farms every year since he was born, so I was excited for an excuse to return to the stunning family-run farm at the base of the Koʻolau Mountains. During our visit to the sunflower event, summer was in full swing: sunny skies, hot temperatures, bright sunflowers, refreshing Nalo-made lemonade and some whining.
As we drove in during our assigned time slot, we were welcomed by a greeter and instructed to stay in our car and follow the road to the sunflower field. A short way past the drive-thru sunflower sign, beyond the chicken coop, we were invited to park and get out to explore. Note: Face masks are still required when interacting with staff and other visitors but can be removed for photos when social distancing is possible.
The sunflower patch stretches far and is impeccably cared for. Each bloom is stunning, and sandwiched between the ocean and the mountains, you can’t dream of a more beautiful spot for photos. And there are plenty of places to snap a few, with thoughtfully placed photo op areas, complete with props, dispersed throughout the field. Those props include a patriotic flag and hay setup, macramé backdrop and an oversize “2021” cutout perfect for graduation photos.
I was snapping pics on my iPhone like crazy. Of course, my son, Duke, didn’t want to cooperate and wouldn’t look at the camera. However, as soon as he eyed the bathtub prop, his curiosity got the best of him: He dove in and managed to smile for a photo. He also loved climbing on an old tractor and pretending to drive and shift gears.
Duke enjoyed running the rows of sunflowers and measuring up against them to see which blooms were taller than him. Pretty soon though, he was whining about the heat and asking for the lemonade that I had promised, so we piled back into my SUV and drove up to the farm animal area. We purchased pig feed ($3) and Duke hesitantly fed the eager hogs. We said “hi” to the goats and cows, and even spotted an adorable baby goat and two calves!
See also: 🌻 Grow Your Own Sunflower House
Hands-down my favorite part was tasting a grilled sunflower head ($10). As a foodie, I’m always looking for something new to try! The sunflower head is brushed with oil, seasoned with salt and pepper, cooked on an outdoor grill, and then sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. The texture is soft and chewy, the flavor nutty and savory. A must-try!
The last stop was to drive through the lemonade stand at the exit. Each guest receives a lemonade or sweet tea, which is included with the admission price. Duke had a hard time deciding between the fun flavors like mango, li hing and pineapple lemonade. As it was lunchtime, the adults couldn’t resist the temptation of the low country boil ($13, available weekends only) with corn, sausage, shrimp and potatoes.
There were no picnic tables as we exited the farm, so we took our lemonade and lunch across the street to Waimānalo Beach Park for an oceanfront picnic to end our excursion. Make sure to stop at the bathroom before driving home after all that delicious lemonade!
Our 5 Tips
- Bring sun protection. There is zero shade at the farm, so wear hats, sunscreen and long sleeves. An earlier morning visit would be coolest. Also, earlier and later time slots will provide more flattering lighting. The midday sun can create harsh shadows.
- Bee prepared. Bees love the sunflower blossoms, and we spotted many. If you or your keiki are allergic to stings, bring your prescribed epinephrine.
- Wheel out the wagon. The terrain is too rough for strollers, so if you have small keiki a wagon is a better option.
- Look out for turkeys. The farm’s two resident turkeys roam freely around the property. Their feathers are beautiful and the birds make for a fun keiki encounter.
- Ration the lemonade. Twenty ounces of sweet beverage is a lot for a little one. You may want to split it between kids to avoid a sugar crash.
The summer sunflower event is open Tuesday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. through July 21. Reservations are recommended for each half-hour time slot, but they are not required. $10 per person plus tax and processing fee. Keiki 2 years old and under are free, but will not receive the included lemonade. 41-225 Lupe St., Waimānalo, (808) 306-4381, waimanalocountryfarms.com, @waimanalocountryfarms