Buying penny stocks can be tempting, because even a small increase in share price can send your investment skyrocketing. But the problem is that the reverse can happen just as easily and have the opposite effect. Rather than investing in stocks that trade at just $5 or less and that can be very risky, there are plenty of promising growth investments that you can buy today that are safer bets over the long term and that won't jeopardize your portfolio in the process.

Three stocks you should consider that possess attractive growth prospects are Village Farms International (VFF -2.73%)Zynga (ZNGA), and GoPro (GPRO 0.64%)

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1. Village Farms

At a price of around $9 per share, Village Farms isn't far from being a penny stock, but its business is a lot more sound. The company is in a great position to dominate the Canadian cannabis industry now that it owns 100% of Pure Sunfarms, a greenhouse that Emerald Health previously had a stake in as well. Pure Sunfarms began rolling out its first edible products earlier this year with the launch of real fruit gummies, something that it believes is a rarity in the industry. It also sells dried flower, rolls, and oil products, ensuring that it is in all the major categories in the industry, which together make up 90% of all revenue.

Over the past year, shares of Village Farms have climbed around 70%, outperforming the S&P 500 and its 42% rise in value during that time. And that's with the pot stock falling in recent months. There's hope for even greater returns ahead for Village Farms, which with the inclusion of Pure Sunfarms in its entirety during the period ending March 31, grew its sales by 63% to $52 million. The quarter also marked the third straight period in which Pure Sunfarms' retail branded sales grew by at least 20%.

At a time when many Canadian marijuana companies are struggling to grow their revenue, Pure Sunfarms is separating itself from the pack, which benefits shareholders of Village Farms. With strong revenue growth and the business delivering positive adjusted EBITDA numbers, Village Farms is one of the safer cannabis-related investments you can buy today.

2. Zynga

Gaming company Zynga trades at more than $10 and its stock has risen 24% over the past 12 months. With popular mobile games, including FarmVille and Zynga Poker, it caters to many different users. The company released its first-quarter earnings numbers on May 5, and its revenue of $680 million for the period ending March 31 outperformed its previous guidance of $635 million. It was also a 68% improvement from the $404 million that the company reported in the same period last year.

But Zynga is still working on achieving even more growth by launching new games. On the same day of its earnings release, it announced the acquisition of Chartboost, a mobile advertising company that reaches 700 million users every month. Zynga projects that for 2021, its total revenue will climb to $2.7 billion, for a year-over-year growth rate of 37%. And that's without factoring in the Chartboost acquisition.

While some investors may write off Zynga as a stay-at-home stock that won't do well as the economy opens back up, that creates a great buying opportunity for Foolish investors who see the potential in this business. Mobile gaming is something that can be done anywhere to help pass time; users don't need to be at home. While the stock has underperformed the markets over the past year, I wouldn't bet on that trend to continue.

3. GoPro

If your focus is on the economy and reopenings, then GoPro might be a more suitable investment. Its stock currently trades at more than $11 -- the highest on this list. The company is known for its cameras that are easy to attach to helmets and that can make recording seamless even while you are in the midst of riding a bike or aren't able to physically hold a device.

Like many other businesses, GoPro now offers users a subscription service where they can automatically upload videos onto the cloud, use premium editing tools, get discounts, live stream content, and even exchange two cameras per year. The company has also been moving to a direct-to-consumer model that relies less on retailers to sell its products. 

GoPro released its latest results on May 6, and sales for the first three months of the year soared 71% to $204 million. In April 2021, the company reached 1 million subscribers. That's up from 761,000 subscribers it reported as of Dec. 31, 2020, which was already up an impressive 145% year over year.

For investors, a subscription-based business is a safe one. It typically leads to more stability, and can make it much easier for sales to grow if a company has a strong customer base -- which GoPro is proving that it does. Although the company is coming off a tough 2020 in which sales were down more than 32% from the previous year, the future looks brighter for the camera company with the pandemic nearly in the rearview. I think that GoPro can build on the impressive 167% returns it has already generated in the past 12 months and be a very exciting stock to own.