Are you looking for an easy, all-inclusive family vacation all within driving distance from the New York Tri-State area? Then you should consider going to Rocking Horse Ranch, an all-inclusive family resort in Highland, NY. Rocking Horse Ranch is an all-inclusive resort in Upstate New York, just 1.5 hours from Greenwich, CT, a little over an hour from Bergen County, New Jersey or 1.5 hours from New York’s Upper West Side.
Our trip to Rocking Horse Ranch was a last-minute decision. My 6 year old had never skied before and I was looking for a place to expose him to skiing before going on our big Vermont ski trip. At first, I was going to take him to Thunder Ridge, a local ski area, but decided to do a mini-vacation instead. In my search for a mini-vacation in the New York tri-state area, I stumbled upon Rocking Horse Ranch, an all inclusive resort that has a lot to offer. On the Rocking Horse Ranch website, you see the happy families skiing, tubing, horseback riding, swimming in their indoor water park! It looks like there is something for everyone at Rocking Horse Ranch. I was intrigued- an all-inclusive resort that is only 1.5 hours from my NYC that comes with skiing? I decided to book our stay at Rocking Horse Ranch (note: this is an unsponsored post!)
Rocking Horse Ranch Accomodations
Don’t expect luxury accommodations at Rocking Horse Ranch. The rooms and bathrooms are basic but clean. I’d compare it to the level of a Hilton Garden Inn or a Courtyard by Marriott.
The photos on the Rocking Horse Ranch website make it look like a big sprawling resort but in reality, Rocking Horse Ranch is a small resort with one main lodge. Everything is steps away from your room which is perfect for families with small children. I’d recommend staying at the Main Lodge if you are there during winter so you don’t have to put on your coat to go to dinner and you are located in the same building as the pool. And if you are going with kids, definitely book the room with the bunk beds. Your kids will love it!
The Food at Rocking Horse Ranch
Our drive from Greenwich to Rocking Horse Ranch took only 1.5 hours! We left right after breakfast and we arrived around
Lunch was a buffet with simple kid-friendly food. The buffet consisted of a salad bar, hot food, pasta and dessert. I was happy with the assortment at the salad bar. I had pasta
Dinner was different from lunch because you order your appetizers and main course off the menu and then get your dessert from the buffet. There was a wide variety of entrees to choose from including steak, fish, chicken, and vegetarian dishes. I started with mushroom soup and had eggplant parmigiana for my dinner. My six year old also had the mushroom soup with pasta and chicken fingers for his entree. Salad was served family style. The service was amazing and our waiter was very attentive. I’m happy to report how knowledgeable the waiter is of my son’s peanut/nut
Breakfast was buffet style. There is a big buffet with your typical hot breakfast items like scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages as well as oatmeal, cereals, bread, and fruit. You can also order eggs from the kitchen. I had the eggs benedict and it was delicious.
You will definitely not go hungry at Rocking Horse Ranch. Aside from Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, you can also visit their all-day snack/coffee bar for cookies, coffee, and hot cocoa all day. There is also a happy hour in the afternoon featuring a small buffet of small bites like chips and guacamole, meatballs, cheese, fruits and fried mozzarella sticks. Plus the happy hour gives you complimentary drinks.
Tip: Each night comes with 3 meals, if you do decide to leave late or come early, you can buy vouchers to pay for
Complimentary Skiing at Rocking Horse Ranch
It is such a great value when you take into account that the all-inclusive rate at Rocking Horse Ranch came with ski equipment and ski instruction! The whole ski experience was so pleasant.
Complimentary Ski Rentals at Rocking Horse Ranch
When we picked up our ski equipment, there was no line, the staff was knowledgeable and helpful. The experience was pleasant. None of the stress and long lines typically experienced at the big ski resorts. Another good thing about Rocking Horse Ranch is the ski rental place was a few steps from the ski hill, which make it so easy. You will not experience the usual struggle of carrying ski equipment with kids. That’s one of the nice things about Rocking Horse Ranch is that everything is a short walk away.
Complimentary Ski Instructors at Rocking Horse Ranch
At the ski area, there were ski instructors ready to teach my son. The ski area at Rocking Horse Ranch is comprised of 2 bunny hills. There is a small bunny hill with a rope tow and a bigger bunny hill with a magic carpet. They were perfect for my 6 year old who was on skis for the first time. The instructors helped my son on the rope tow and went down the bunny hill with him. The experience was like having a private one-on-one ski instructor for my son! After a few runs with the instructor, my son was ready to ski on his own. He eventually moved up to the big bunny hill and by the end of our trip, he was skiing on his own! If you have a first-time skier, I highly recommend going to Rocking Horse Ranch. I remember when my older daughter was just learning to ski, I enrolled her in ski schools and private lessons! If only I knew about Rocking Horse Ranch, I would have saved hundreds of dollars on ski rentals and ski schools plus I’d get an all-inclusive family vacation out of it!
Tip: They do make snow. You should call ahead before going to see if skiing and snow tubing are available.
Tubing at Rocking Horse Ranch
Horse Drawn Carriage Rides
When we got tired of skiing, we went on the horse-drawn carriage ride. Which was conveniently located next to the ski area. The experience was similar to a hayride. My son loved it so much, we went twice!
Horseback Riding at Rocking Horse Ranch
The trail ride on horseback was definitely one of the highlights of my stay. What an experience to be on horseback, riding in the snow-covered woods. The view was breathtaking (this is a bad picture but trust me on this). I would go back to Rocking Horse Ranch just for the trail rides. They split the riders into 3 levels- beginners (walk), intermediate (trot) and advanced (canter).
Tip: You should make reservations for the trail rides when you arrive. You can go on standby (they do have open spots unless it is a busy weekend).
Complimentary Stable Tour at Rocking Horse Ranch
They offer behind the scenes stable tour at Rocking Horse Ranch. I highly recommend the stable tour. It was very thorough and informative. And you will be impressed with Rocking Horse Ranch- they actually operate a ranch with 100 horses! When you go on the stable tour, don’t expect to see a stable full of horses. The horses spend the night at a different location and these tours are conducted late in the day when all the horses have left the premises. During our tour, there were a few horses left and my son enjoyed seeing and petting the horses.
Tip: Find out when they bring the horses to the other location, it is impressive to see one hundred horses make their way through the parking lot and across the street!
They had a mini-farm outside the stables complete with pigs, goats, a camel, mini-donkeys, a zebra and cattles.
We caught the evening show featuring David Darwin. My six year old was mesmerized when he ate fire and swallowed a sword. It was a show that is perfect for families. Both kids and adults were entertained and had lots of good laughs. There was a lot of audience participation which made it very engaging.
My son loved the indoor waterpark. Don’t expect a big indoor waterpark. It is really a typical hotel-size indoor pool with a splash area and a big slide. I like that it is conveniently located in the main lodge, right next to the lobby.
Tip: I’d recommend staying in the main lodge instead of the Oklahoma building if you plan to use the indoor waterpark so you don’t have to walk outside in the cold after swimming.
We also spent some time playing in the arcade and doing some mini-bowling.
There was so much to do. We didn’t get a chance to do everything. There was also a kids club which we didn’t try but they will babysit children newborn to age 12. There was also a shooting gallery with archery and BB Guns. And there is an indoor play area with foam balls and bouncy castles.
For anyone looking for a quick getaway that is an easy drive from NYC, I’d recommend Rocking Horse Ranch. The food was basic but tasty and very kid-friendly. The accommodations were simple, not luxurious but clean. The room configurations were very family-friendly, including some rooms with bunk beds which the kids love. Aside from skiing and horseback riding, the best part of the resort was the service. I did not expect much coming here but their service was excellent. The staff was very helpful and attentive. I’m so happy to have discovered this little gem that is so close to home. I’m already planning my next Rocking Horse Ranch mini-vacation.
Tip: It can get crowded on weekends. They host several Girl Scout weekends during the year. I suggest checking their website to make sure you are not there during Girl Scout weekends. Better yet, if you can get away during the week, that is best because you will enjoy lower rates and avoid the crowds.
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