Family Road Traveled

mostly NYC adventures with kids

Rocking Horse Ranch – An Unforgettable Family Vacation Rocking Horse Ranch – An Unforgettable Family Vacation
It’s not often I visit a destination with plans on writing travel tips and walk away with none! Rocking Horse Ranch is a delightful ... Rocking Horse Ranch – An Unforgettable Family Vacation
It’s not often I visit a destination with plans on writing travel tips and walk away with none! Rocking Horse Ranch is a delightful  all-inclusive family resort, located about 90 minutes from NYC. In fact, it’s even accessible via train (Metro North). This little resort in Highland, NY was started by the Turk family in 1958 and they still run it. They have a lot of experience in this business and it shows.
This gem is situated on 600 rolling acres in the Hudson Valley. As you enter the rustic ranch style lobby you immediately get the sense you’re going to cherish the memories you make here. The hotel and grounds are charming with a ranch theme but it’s not hokey or tacky. There’s a total of 113 guest rooms, so there is an intimacy and authenticity this sweet family vacation spot is able to maintain throughout your stay.
We arrived around 11:30 on a Monday along with our family friends who have a four year old boy – a perfect companion for our four year old daughter. Upon check in we received a brochure outlining the activity and meal schedule. My head was spinning a bit from all the options we had. We dropped off our luggage then headed to the Tavern for lunch and to get acquainted with the property and our options. We enjoyed a buffet style lunch which had a salad bar and a decent range of entree options like chicken fajitas, sloppy joes, macaroni and cheese and sausage with peppers. For dessert they had a self serve sundae bar.
After lunch we changed into our ski clothes and went to the winter fun area first. It took a total of five minutes to walk from our room door to the ski rental door. It was so close, no line and we were on skis being towed by rope up the first bunny hill within 30 minutes from putting on our ski clothes. As a mom of a four year old, this is impressive. Nothing is more annoying than a bathroom break in ski clothes! The fact that all of this is so convenient scores major points with me. After skiing a couple runs on the smaller hill we headed up the magic carpet to the taller hill. This is steps away and all very easy to navigate. We skied down the bigger hill for several runs before our daughter couldn’t keep her eyes off the other activities and wanted to try something else. Let me be clear – these are hills not mountains. Also, the skis are shorter than normal skis and do not come with poles. None of this was a problem for me as my goal was to share this experience with my daughter. She is just beginning to ski and this was the perfect place for her to practice her skills. I much prefer this environment for her than larger mountains with advanced skiers and snowboarders zipping past.


Zip Line
Next we headed to the zip line. For this you zip from a platform which you access via stairs then cross over a lake to a trampoline where you land. There is a mechanism which slows you down at the end, so all you do is sit and ride. This 30 second ride is a lot of fun. We quickly walked around the end of the lake and got back in the short line to ride again. You have to be at least 42″ tall and 40 pounds to ride on the zip line. This activity is only available through April 24th but the Ranch is talking about adding a longer, permanent line in the near future.


Super Bungee Jumper
The bungee jumper was one of my favorite activities. This area is located right by the zip line. They offer four jumping stations. Each station has a trampoline and a harness connected to bungee cords that suspend you, allowing you to jump much higher than a regular trampoline. My boyfriend, daughter and I all practiced doing flips on this playful contraption. We visited this area several more times on our trip. There is also a rock climbing wall in this area which we didn’t try, but it looked fun. There is no minimum size requirement for the bungee jumper, however a minimum of 45 pounds for the rock wall.


Fun Barn
The fun barn was a huge hit with my four year old and her friend. This area is located behind the bungee jumper. It’s a barn filled with fun kid activities including: a bouncy house, a climbing structure with shooting balls and a slide, badminton set up, ping pong tables and a treadmill climbing wall. There are also tables and chairs where several parents relaxed while their kids enjoyed the freedom of running from station to station.

Dining & Dancing
After playing in the barn we went back to the hotel and found a games area and stage downstairs where the kids participated in a dance off and challenged each other at mini bowling. We later headed to dinner. Dinner was a sit-down meal where we ordered from a menu. We had steaks, ribs, chicken, burgers as well as a salad bar. Each of us left very satisfied with the quality of food. For dessert we dipped fruit, cookies and rice crispy treats into a huge chocolate fountain. The kids made an epic mess and loved every second of it.



After dinner we changed back into our ski clothes and returned to the winter fun area for the highlight of our trip, night snow tubing! This was held at the same hill we skied on but this time we rode up the magic carpet with tubes. We began the evening by partnering adults with kids on the runs but by the end of the night the kids were brave enough to go down alone. We all tried to see who could go the farthest up the ramp, which you slide up as you come to a halt at the end of the hill. We shared a lot of giggles and screams doing this activity. We ended the night roasting marshmallows and sipping hot chocolate at a fire pit set up at the bottom of the hill.

Water Park
The next morning we finally made it to the highly anticipated water park. The kids were anxious to get in here and took no time jumping in and splashing each other under the ranch themed splashing structure in the center of the indoor pool. They also loved the area in the deeper end of the pool where they walked across floating buoys while holding onto ropes above them. As much fun as this was, the upper deck of the water park was their favorite section. This area has a splash pad with three small slides and several geysers for little kids to play in. And the main feature, a 250 foot tube slide that begins inside, takes you outside in several loops then returns you back indoors with a splash. This feels like an adult slide but participants as small as 36″ were bravely making the ascent up the stairs and smiled as they reemerged at the bottom.



Horseback Riding
Last but not least we tried horseback riding for little kids. Since the age requirement is 7 years and older to participate in the main trail rides we didn’t experience any of these. Instead we opted for several ‘pony rides’ for the kids which were actually done on large full sized horses. These rides were led near the fun barn by patient staff who carefully suited up the kids in helmets and in the saddles. Parents could even hold onto their kid’s hands as they walked laps on the horse if the kids needed extra reassurance. Our favorite horse was Callaghan, who even posed with a cowboy hat for a photo.

Riding horse back was a real treat for my daughter, she loved it. We actually already had a special encounter with the horses earlier that morning. Since she’s such an early riser we were already walking the grounds at 7am when we spotted all 112 horses walking from their stables across the street to enter the riding stables in the resort area. We met the barn manager TJ and watched him greet each animal as they entered the barn. It’s clear these animals are well cared for and even loved. Each one is recognized by name. TJ took the time and introduced us to a couple of the beauties. In addition to horses, there is also a small wildlife area where you can see a Zebra, camel, donkeys and goats.


We did all of this in just two days! If you and your kids love horses, adventures and the outdoors, Rocking Horse Ranch makes an unforgettable family vacation. We happened to visit this little dude ranch in early March so were able to enjoy the end of the winter season. However their summer offerings look just as exciting with their beautiful lake activities. Later this summer they will also be opening a mountain tubing slide which looks pretty awesome. We made this vacation with family friends and it was so much fun doing all of these activities together with our kids. Originally my parents were going to join us, unfortunately plans changed so they didn’t. Rocking Horse Ranch is the perfect spot for grandparents to relax and enjoy watching their grandkids play. There are activities and entertainment for all ages but mostly this resort caters to families with young children. Since this resort is all inclusive you never have to pull out your wallet unless you’re in the gift shop or the arcade (or ordering cocktails).

I look forward to coming back and next time I’m bringing my daughter’s grandparents.



Here’s a video showing the property of some of our highlights:

Rocking Horse Ranch (600 State Rte 44/55, Highland, NY;


esteepouleris mommy blogger

Estée Pouleris is a mommy blogger based in NYC. She writes reviews about adventures with her 6 year old daughter. Her posts include photos, tips and ideas of fun places to visit with kids.

  • Jolly Roger

    March 19, 2016 #1 Author

    This is a Fantastic Venue and described so as to call attention to all of the exciting aspects of the site. Kudos, Estee Pouleris!


  • Hillary Steiner

    March 28, 2016 #2 Author

    If you don’t mind me asking, what was the ball park price? Also, was it crowded for the activities? Did you wait a lot for meals or anything?


    • esteepouleris

      March 28, 2016 #3 Author

      We picked dates with a promotional rate of $99 per adult i think $59/kid, but that is the lowest I’ve seen. The activities were not crowded and we never had long a long wait.


  • Adam

    October 2, 2016 #4 Author

    Thanks for the detailed review. Are there good activities for kids in the 18-24 month age range?


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