Monday, April 29, 2013

Rocking Horse Ranch

Rocking Horse Ranch is an all-inclusive family resort in Highland, NY (only 10 minutes from the Poughkeepsie Train Station, which is the last stop on Metro North's Hudson line from Grand Central). The Mid-Hudson Valley region (Ulster County) was lovely in the spring, but I'm sure each season has its own charm.

Lina chose this trip for her birthday celebration. She couldn't wait to go on a "pony" ride every day. (Click on a photo to access larger images.)

Horse lovers will definitely appreciate being at Rocking Horse Ranch resort. To go horseback riding on the trails, one needs to be at least 7 years old. But there's plenty of other things to do at the RHR.

Like Super Bungee Jumpers:

Fort Tiny Playground:

Horse Spring Riders:

No worries if it gets cold outside or it's raining (weather was perfect during our visit, though, so we spent most of the day outdoors), because there's plenty to do indoors.

Such as the Fun Barn:

Big Splash Indoor Water Park:

They have so many wonderful indoor and outdoor activities, rather than listing them all here on this blog...I figure you can just check their web site. The fun doesn't end at night, they have live shows at the main lodge and even after a long day of fun, the kids were totally into the live entertainment. During our visit we saw the educational reptile was pretty awesome to see the man handling the young alligator and a snapping turtle and hear interesting facts about reptiles. The kids enjoyed lining up to pet the python, that was wrapped around the guy's body. Lina said the python was "soft". On another night, we saw a juggling show by the talented Chris Chiappini. It was amazing to watch him juggle a real bowling ball, hanger and hammer. As well as juggling fake knives, while riding a unicycle. Surprising to find out (after checking out his web site) that he hiked 2184 miles of the Appalachian Trail last year, juggling along the way. Very cool!

Other than the pony rides...Lina's favorite outdoor activities included boat rides on the lake (below photo: we're in a pedal boat and she's steering) and miniature golf.

Lina danced a lot before and after the live shows (she was the first one out on the floor and eventually other kids joined in) and she continuously scored points playing air hockey in the Video Arcade room. We also went on a horse drawn wagon ride in the daytime and, in order to get to the bonfire shown below (marshmallow roast and sing-along), we took a tractor drawn wagon at night.

The trip wouldn't have been complete without acknowledging Lina's 5th birthday (balloons, a cute cowgirl sign and a birthday cake with "Happy Birthday Lina" written on it, candles to blow out and over a hundred people singing to her). They happened to be serving her favorite salad that night, caesar salad, a nice start to the dinner.

I bought Ariat Quickdraw Western Boots for Lina. She did just about every activity (including dancing and running) with those boots on during this trip (without any breaking in period necessary). They are durable, easy to wipe (or brush) clean and she said they are extremely comfortable. I got them a half size big and stuffed cotton balls into the toe area, so hopefully they will last the rest of this year, so she can add cowgirl style to her urban outfits.

Plenty of seats along grassy fields (and benches by the lake, as well) to relax at Rocking Horse Ranch. Lina loved to run to the fence and watch the horses and riders lining up to go out on the trail.

Lots of choices at the meals (and they really work with you to get you what you like), surely everyone will find something yummy to eat. They have various meat and vegetarian options, as you might expect, but I was curious about the seafood. I had perfect rock shrimp (fried crisp and served with spicy mayonnaise dipping sauce) and delicious blackened cod. The potato and bacon soup, mmm, was the ultimate comfort food. It's "family style" seating, so you get to meet many kids and grown-ups during your stay.

Our room in the main lodge was spacious and clean...and Lina slept in a bunk bed for the first time. It was an extremely positive experience for our family. The Rocking Horse Ranch is worth every dime and they offer discounts many times during the year. It's especially fun for families with kids ages 4 to 10. Lina begged to stay at the RHR forever and told me this place tops Sesame Place (in PA) as her "favorite place in the whole world."

It's always a pleasure to travel with Lina, who never whines about long waits on trips. She occupies herself nicely (looking out the window or drawing in her pad) and tries to nap. She doesn't have tantrums when we are out and about at new places. It's so nice to get away, time to time, because too often New York City causes a sensory overload. We were dreading the assault on the senses of 42nd Street, but we had to walk through the aggressive crowds in that area, with our luggage in tow (ugh), to get to the Rocking Horse Ranch via Grand Central (1 hour and 45 minutes to the Poughkeepsie train station with Metro North and then a complimentary pick-up by the ranch, arranged a couple of days in advance). It made us even more appreciative of the welcoming staff and friendly guests we met at this family resort.