When it comes to my family's vacations, our favorites are the ones where all the fun is in one location. As much as I love trip planning, it is such a treat when I don't have to spend hours researching activities and entertainment in a new place.
We love all-inclusive vacation spots where everything, including meals, is part of the package. Decision-making is made EASY! Recently, my family and I found a perfect family destination that fits this bill — the White Stallion Ranch in Tucson, Arizona.
The author and her family were hosted by the White Stallion Ranch in exchange for this article. All opinions are her own.
White Stallion Ranch had so many activities each day during our week-long stay that our problem was actually trying to fit in everything we wanted to do. In true dude ranch tradition, horseback riding is at the heart of the activities offered, but there is so much more to enjoy, from high energy to zen.
Want an adrenaline-fueled, action-packed day? They've got you covered many times over. Want a relaxing, chill day taking in the beauty and stillness of the desert? There's plenty there too. Want to try something new? Chances are there's something that qualifies. For my family, we had the opportunity to try MANY new activities.
My family loved everything about White Stallion Ranch, but each of us picked our absolute favorite to highlight:
Quinten, age 9
Rock Climbing: this really was a thrill for ALL three of us. It was the first time any of us had rocked climbed on real rocks. Fun tidbit: The ranch is believed to be the only resort with onsite rock climbing access in the country.
Wade, the instructor, was phenomenal. He is well-trained and was patient and very encouraging with us beginners.
In one short session, Quinten went from being petrified of climbing up and even coming down to climbing the intermediate rock and not wanting it to end.
"It was fun to learn a new skill, and the instructor was very knowledgeable. It was fun because I got to learn something I had never done before," Quinten said.
Meals: Quinten is a picky eater but liked the resort meals, always finding something he liked.
"Some of the food I liked because it was 'dude ranch' food," he said.
Round-Up Room: This is their main game room for both kids and adults. (There is also an adult-only game room with a pool table.) Quinten got into playing ping pong and shuffleboard, which were both new games for him. There was also a vintage Pac-Man video game.
Jeep Tours: No exaggeration, this was one of THE BEST tours I've ever been on, ever! Tristan, our guide, had an immense amount of knowledge about the desert and was a fabulous and entertaining storyteller. There is no doubt I learned more about desert life on that 2+ hour tour than I have in my entire life combined.
For both Quinten and me, the best part of the tour was sampling some of the edible plants of the desert and learning about their medicinal and healing properties. I even took a piece of a creosote plant and later used it to make tea.
Fat Tire E-Bike Ride: What a fun way to tour the desert! It was basically a bike that I did not have to pedal, and I just pushed buttons to make it run.
Martin, my guide, was very helpful and friendly as it took me a minute (and a little crash) to learn and get the hang of it! Just like learning to ride a traditional bike, once I learned, I was good to go the rest of the ride. Martin also shared a lot of history and information about the ranch as we rode through some of their amazing 3,500-acre property.
Food and Drink: It's one thing not to have to cook at all on vacation, which in my book IS a vacation in and of itself! But to feel like we're in a different high-end restaurant for each meal really takes the cake! All food was prepared fresh, served hot, and with quality ingredients, and we always had choices. Every meal was a buffet, and during our week-long stay, there was a different lunch and dinner each day.
And a fun bonus being in Arizona: getting to partake in a true desert drink — a delicious prickly pear cactus margarita!
I seriously could return for the FOOD alone.
Shooting: there were two types of shooting options, .22 caliber and .45 caliber. Wil said, "It's not something I ordinarily do. It's not a skill I have, and was something different. The instructors, Seth and Martin, were really helpful and encouraging, which, I think, led to me getting exact targets. Martin, especially, made sure Quinten understood what he was doing."
Round-Up Room: Wil loved the Round-Up Room as a great place to go during downtime and between activities. "Even if others were there, it still felt like we had it to ourselves," he said.
Horseback Riding: rides are offered throughout each day, except Sundays, to give the horses much-needed breaks. There are three different levels of riding and countless different lengths of rides, including ones with meals. The horses were really well trained, along with the staff. The spectacular view of the desert never got old.
Other activities and attractions we enjoyed at the ranch included their heated pool, indoor hot tub, sauna, leather-making, painting, archery, evening entertainment such as "Meet the Critters" and cowboy singers, line dancing, fire pit, private movie theater, petting zoo, playground, cookie decorating, lasso practice, cornhole, and their weekly rodeo.
The icing on the cake of our fantastic week was the hospitality. Staff members were welcoming, always smiling, and making personal connections with us. They seemed genuinely interested in our experience at the ranch. Many remembered our names as well.
Quinten, Wil, and I all loved White Stallion Ranch so much that we're in the beginning discussion stages to return next winter. We hope that extended family members can join us too.
White Stallion Ranch is a perfect venue for groups of all sizes, and there's definitely something for everyone of all ages, activity levels, and interests. It's the ultimate family vacation destination because there are plenty of family activities to enjoy.
Part of The Dude Ranchers' Association, White Stallion Dude Ranch is one of over 90 dude ranches across the western U.S. and Canada offering an all-inclusive vacation experience like no other destination. Member ranches endure a rigorous inspection and approval process that ensures guests are treated to genuine western hospitality combined with the lodging industry’s highest standards.