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Review of Rocking Horse Ranch: A Winter Weekend Trip

February 22, 2012

Review of Rocking Horse Ranch by Jessica Glorieux

My husband and I needed to get the kids out of the house while they painted so I suggested we take the weekend and get away. After spending some time researching kid friendly places upstate, I found Rocking Horse Ranch. Rocking Horse Ranch is a family oriented resort outside of Highland, NY.  It’s an easy 2 hour drive or better yet, a 1.5 hour Metro-North (Or Amtrak) train ride to Poughkeepsie. If you train it, the hotel picks you up at the train station. A mere 7 minutes away, the Ranch is a large compound with a welcoming staff.  Check in was a breeze and we knew we hit the ground running when they handed us an itinerary for the weekend. The lobby overlooks the indoor swimming pool & slide and it was all I could do to get my daughter back to the room to put on her swimsuit!

Activities & Shows:
The Ranch has enough indoor and outdoor activities to choose from that all ages will find something appealing.  The events start on Friday at 2pm so come early! A sampling of events looks like this:
Indoor – pool, game rooms, Fun Barn – with bouncy castle & rock climbing wall, rifle arcade, video game room and Wii stations, there are dance parties, reenactments of game shows and live shows! We attended a reptile show and game show where kids and adults played ‘Minute to Win It’.  They also have board games you can check out at the front desk and ping pong tables. If you are looking for some R & R, they do have a spa with the usual menu of treatments available.

Outdoor winter activities – The Ranch has a slope that they maintain beautifully  with fake snow so you can ski or tube. It’s open during the day and then again at night when they have bonfires where you can roast marshmallows. They have a  “Never Ever” hill which is the perfect place for beginners. You can rent all equipment there. They also have horse/pony rides, horse drawn sleigh rides available through their 500 acre woods, putt-putt golf and an adult sized rock climbing wall. There’s also ice skating on the lake when it’s cold enough!
And for adult time, there is daycare so if you want to drop off the kids and take a nap or grab a glass of wine by the fire place you can! The daycare room itself is also available for open play too. (It is included in the all-inclusive price of your stay too.)

All meals are served in a dining room. They have set times and everyone sits family style, which means you will probably sit with another family unless your group is so big that you fill your own table. Breakfast and lunch are buffet while dinner is a selection of 5 items. Early diner? No problem! There are two different dinner times to accommodate everyone (5:30 & 7:30).  Dessert and beverages are buffet. The food is standard American fare. I wasn’t that impressed with the food but I know why; it’s complementary to everyone’s tastes no matter where you come from. I loved that they had fruit at all meals and a salad bar at lunch and dinner.
Did anyone say Happy Hour? Yes! If you are looking for a wee break, chill out at happy hour at 3pm on Saturday. They offer free glasses of wine and lots of yummy nibbles at the downstairs bar. Additionally they always have coffee and hot cocoa available in the main lobby with a snack of some sort of those kids who get peckish between meals.  The lobby bar opens at 2pm and offers free popcorn to everyone all afternoon long.

What you need to bring and know:

*While no one said it, it seems that meals can be BYOB. We saw a lot of coolers and people carrying in bottles of wine at dinner.  But they have a full bar and you can order drinks at meals.

*During the winter, the hotel is only open on the weekends. I would recommend coming early on Friday to take full advantage. From Labor to Memorial Day, they are open all week. During the fall, they have hourly shuttles to local orchards too!

*Like I said, you can take MetroNorth and the hotel will pick you up for free!

*They only have 115 rooms so it feels intimate all time. We never went anywhere that was overcrowded.

*It is all-inclusive, which takes a lot of burden off you.

*Don’t expect a ton of luxury! It’s a dude ranch for families through and through!

Overall, amazing experience!! I’m already plotting my return! That’s now much I liked it! (It does get 4.5 stars from 232 Tripadvisor readers, which means I’m not the only one who will be returning!)

Jessica Glorieux is a professional toy-picker-uper and chef to 2 toddlers living in Greenpoint. Project manager by day and writer at motherburg.com by night; any extra time is filled with playing tennis, volunteer projects, talking to strangers and stopping to pet any dog that will have me.