Saddle Up! Dude Ranches That Will Blow Your Kid’s Mind

kids on horseback ride at dude ranch Kate Loweth

If you haven’t experienced the wonder of a dude ranch vacation, you definitely need to add it to your family vacation bucket list. Where else can the kids spend the day learning horsemanship while you enjoy some relaxation at the spa? It’s the perfect balance of rustic and luxury.


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This list has our top dude ranches for families that include all-inclusive dude ranches that feed you better than you’d eat at home (think chuck wagon dinners with all the fixin’s). Many of these destinations also have amazing programs for kids and stargazing in the evenings. Need we say more?

Greenhorn Ranch | Quincy, CA

kids fishing in pond at Greenhorn Ranch CA
Kate Loweth

Just north of Tahoe, you’ll find the gorgeous, off-the-beaten-path area of the Lost Sierras. Here you can really get away from it all and spend some time with your family among massive trees and native animals. Your stay at Greenhorn Ranch includes all your meals from taco night to the Saturday Night BBQ. If you are there on a night of their cookout, you can choose to take a trail or wagon ride to and from your meal.

What to do: At Greenhorn Ranch, cowboy culture takes center stage with horseback riding being one of the main activities on the Ranch. Adirondack chairs and hammocks dot the property and are the perfect spot for a relaxing afternoon. One of the biggest draws for kids is the pond that’s just outside the saloon. Here little anglers can borrow a fishing rod and some worms to cast into the pond.  

Read more: tinybeans.com

Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch | Stanley, ID

Family horseback riding at dude ranch Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch
Kate Loweth

Mountains, streams, lakes and some of the nation’s most glorious scenery can be found at Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch. Perfect for multi-generational family gatherings, the 900-acre ranch offers the opportunity to slow down, sit by the fire and play a game of cards with the Sawtooth Mountains in the distance. 

What to do: The Ranch offers mountain bikes to borrow including a handful of kid-sized rides. There are loads of trails for hiking and a pond on the property where you can fly fish (catch and release only), try out stand-up paddle boarding or head out to see if you spot the resident beaver while on the pedalboat. You’ll find a number of guided activities for guests including hiking, fly fishing clinics and yoga. You can also book a massage appointment.

We definitely recommend booking a half-day horseback ride with Pioneer Outfitters while at the Ranch. Their stables are located just across the street from the Ranch and their knowledgeable guides will take you on the trails so that you can get a bird’s-eye view of the valley. There’s nothing like seeing this gorgeous area on the back of a horse! 

Read more: tinybeans.com

BlissWood Bed and Breakfast Ranch | Cat Spring, TX

This spot is just under four hours from Dallas, but you’ll feel miles away from your everyday life. The B&B consists of 14 cabins and cottages of varying sizes, as well as glamping options (Grand Safari Tent, Conestoga Covered Wagon, Deluxe RVs). Continental breakfast is included with your room rate with the ability to add on the full meal plan for an additional cost if you wish. 

What to do: Onsite activities include horseback rides, catch-and-release fishing, biking trails, trapshooting, archery and so much more. Kids will especially enjoy the exotic animal safari where they can see bison, deer and antelope. 

Online: blisswood.net

Tanque Verde Guest Ranch | Tucson, AZ

Sunset family horseback ride at dude ranch
Tanque Verde Guest Ranch

One of the most distinctive resorts in Tucson, Tanque Verde has been welcoming families with scenic desert and mountain views for years. Guests can experience its varied history with miles of exciting horse trails, four tennis courts and a bright swimming pool that sparkles in the Arizona sun. Visit with the property’s 150 horses and enjoy southwestern cuisine and happy hour at the Dog House Saloon. 

What to do: Breakfast rides, cowboy cookouts and all the relaxation you need are central to a stay at Tanque Verde. Mountain biking, fishing, guided hikes, yoga and wellness activities, arts and crafts, tennis, and more are also available. Guest can take advantage of the robust kids’ program that includes a full day of activities including riding lessons, pool time, tie-dye and all the cactus crafts you can imagine. Enjoy some relaxation time at the La Sonora Spa while the kids are taken care of (they won’t even miss you!). 

Read more: tanqueverderanch.com

The Ranch at Bandy Canyon | Escondido, CA

Does your family love the idea of camping, but the idea of “roughing it” in the great outdoors doesn’t sound so appealing? The Ranch at Bandy Canyon offers the perfect solution. Located in the heart of Southern California’s San Pasqual Valley, this rustic retreat allows you to enjoy all the comforts of home, yet be completely surrounded by nature.

Forget about pitching a tent and sleeping on the ground, The Ranch at Bandy Canyon has everything you need to experience the wilderness with the ease of modern-day amenities. 

What to do: The Ranch offers all sorts of activities from horseback trail rides to swimming, hiking, biking and more. And with cozy cabins and local wineries right outside your door, what are you waiting for? 

Read more: tinybeans.com

JL Bar Ranch, Resort & Spa | Sonora, TX

Escape to the remote charm of JL Bar Ranch, an intimate ranch that sprawls across 13,000 acres of wide-open spaces, rolling hills, ancient oak trees and wildflowers in Texas Hill Country. The ranch offers just 32 accommodations, a main lodge with a game room & bar/wine tasting room, indoor and al fresco dining venues with authentic Texas cuisine, cozy fire pits, a pool & hot tub, an intimate spa and more.

What to do: The ranch offers fun outdoor activities including hiking, horseback riding, ATV/UTV adventures, yoga, 3D archery, a Jack Nicklaus putting/chipping green, incredible cowboy cookouts & more. 

Read more: jlbar.com

Westgate River Ranch Resort & Rodeo | River Ranch, FL

Westgate River Ranch Resort & Rodeo dude ranch
Westgate River Ranch Resort & Rodeo

You’ll love your visit to this Florida property that recently unveiled new sleeping accommodations that kids will love—Conestoga wagons and glamping tents. These premium offerings are the latest addition to the unique lodging experiences available at this secluded luxury glamping resort, located one hour south of Orlando and two hours north of Palm Beach County, Florida.

What to do: The Ranch, which lies on 1,700 acres overlooking the scenic Kissimmee River, features horseback riding, an award-winning Saturday night rodeo and much more. 

Read more: westgateresorts.com

Rainbow Trout Ranch | Antonio, CO

Transport yourself back to the cowboy days with a visit to Rainbow Trout Ranch. This High Sierra spot offers cozy cabins that families love with daily housekeeping and a porch to sit and enjoy the views. Meals are included with your stay and take place all over the property including near the river! 

What to do: In addition to their exceptional children’s program, the ranch offers fly fishing, trapshooting, swimming, day trips to Taos and more. Of course, horseback riding is a major focus with programs available for beginner to experienced riders. Spectacular all-day rides with waterfalls and views of the Continental Divide are among the offerings. 

Read more: rainbowtroutranch.com

Alisal Guest Ranch | Solvang, CA

Alisal Guest Ranch/Nicki Sebastian

Alisal Ranch is an old cowboy ranch—a working one that dates back to 1843—and it has been welcoming guests since the 1950s. One of our favorite things about Alisal is what a great job they’ve done combining the fun activities of a ranch with the pampering of a resort. The ranch feels low-key and welcoming to the whole family (where many resorts often leave you feeling like they wish you’d left the kids at home), but never skimps on the creature comforts. 

What to do: Whether you want to spend the weekend riding the range (or taking your first horseback lesson), eating at a campfire, catching fish, being pampered at the spa, listening to the roosters crow, reading a book by the pool, gathering eggs, playing an 18 hole private golf course, tasting local wines or hiking, you’ll all find the perfect activities.

Read more: tinybeans.com

 

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