Reviews & Photos
July 28 2014
2 families found this helpful
Malibu Dude Ranch
351 Foster Hill Rd,
"Horseback Riding at a Ranch"
Our family of 5 just completed an all-inclusive mid-summer stay at the Malibu Dude Ranch in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. The weather was gorgeous each day and we got to enjoy what really makes the ranch special: Horseback riding.
My eldest daughter has morphed herself into a bit of a horse lover and now her younger 9 year old sister has joined group. Not to say that my 12 year old son didn’t enjoy himself. He liked riding but while the girls immersed themselves into everything horseback, he chose to sample all of the activities at the ranch. Asked by some newly minted friends at breakfast each day what they would be doing the girls responded daily with a resounding “riding! “ As if we did not already know.
The Malibu Dude Ranch is located in the pristine Pocono Mountain Area in Milford Pennsylvania nearby the western New York border. It is about 75 miles from New York City and 120 miles from Central Connecticut. There is a vibrant downtown area with shops and restaurants, but the ranch itself is a few secluded miles away. Actually we found really no need to go into town for anything once we set ourselves up at the ranch. The ranch itself is set over 800 rolling acres consisting of verdant forests, open meadows and penned areas for the horses. The grounds are very well kept and inviting. If we felt the need to leave we knew that the Delaware Watergap National Recreation area filled with hiking trails and natural diversions was just on the other side of town.
There are a variety of rooms at the ranch. There are motel style rooms in the main lodge which has a definite western feel. The soaring ceiling is anchored by a large stone fireplace with cowboy décor. The motel style rooms accommodate 4 people for the most part, but in certain larger rooms a cot can be set up for those of us with a family of 5. Each of these rooms has their own bathroom. The rear rooms have balconies facing the tennis and basketball courts and are a lovely place for morning coffee. There is also a large outbuilding of rooms perfect for family reunions or larger parties such as scouts. Finally there is a selection of cabins. The oldest of these is the Stone House which has Native American roots. There is also the Boathouse which is situated on the property lake and several lake view cabins dotting the lake. Behind the lodge are more cabins for a more private feel. We stayed in a Lakehouse Cabin.
The cabin itself was large enough to accommodate our family of 5 with 2 separate sleeping areas, a sitting area with a view of the lake and a large bathroom. The room itself is a bit dated but was generally clean and well kept. I would say those liking a more typical hotel stay should reserve a lodge room, while those seeking a more rustic, private experience should seek the John Wayne upgrade and ask for a cabin room. I would liken the cabin experience to ' glamping’. We had air conditioning, a bed to lay our head on at night, enough room for our family of 5 and a spacious bathroom. A few more hooks to hang wet suits and dirty clothes would have been a nice option. That there was no TV and so much to do we did not spend much of our day in the room. Our day was filled with activity on the ranch and of course horseback riding.
An all-inclusive stay at Malibu includes unlimited horseback riding during riding times at the ranch. While we were there the horse stables were open from 9am-1pm and then again from 2pm-4pm. At slower times during the week we could complete one trail ride and immediately go out again for another ride. There are constant rides starting and ending. The Ranch also offers hourly rides for locals or people passing through or economical day passes that include lunch and as much riding as you can muster. However, to get the full experience I would definitely recommend a stay.
After breakfast we would change into our riding clothes and meander down to the stables to be matched with our horse for the ride by the barn manager Chris.Knowing the finesse required to complete these more complicated strides I was happy that the wranglers made a complete evaluation of rider ability before allowing more difficult rides. Safety is their number one priority.
The trail rides themselves are varied in length and number. The trails led us through the woods and meadows. The weather was absolutely perfect and we never got hot wearing our jeans. We spied several deer and fawns on the trail as well as numerous other critters only adding to our secluded feeling.
Trail rides are available to children 8 and up only. Younger children can have pony rides.
If yours is an active or outdoorsy family you will not get bored here. There is a small lake for fishing (bring you own tackle and gear) for bass and perch and also row and pedal boats for a fun ride. Other activities include a large indoor nicely heated pool with a zero entry pool perfect for little ones, a deck area overlooking the lake and modern changing rooms. The pool was perfectly warmed, not too deep and a welcome respite after a long day of riding.
We also took part in playing tennis (rackets provided) and basketball. Additionally we tried archery and the shooting range at the ranch for our first time. The bows and arrows are provided although you can bring your own. Guns are also provided at the range but there is a nominal fee for the ammunition. On select nights the ranch hosts a hayride and bonfire.
On Saturdays during summer the ranch hosts an authentic rodeo with bull riding, calf roping, barrel racing and of course rodeo clowns. We were lucky enough to watch the rodeo while we were there. The rodeo is open to the public, but if you are staying at the ranch you are given preferred, reserved seating.
I love that the Malibu Dude Ranch is all inclusive. I never had to worry about what the kids were eating next, making a reservation or where we would go. The meals are scheduled each day and sounded by the whistle so you could come to the dining room when the meal was ready. A menu is located at the desk in advance so the choices are obvious. Breakfast was always a hearty fare of pancakes, French toast, eggs and breakfast meats or cereal. Lunch was typically lighter fare like sandwiches or salads. At times lunch was served barbecue style on the expansive lawn. The chef always has a hidden bean or veggie burger for vegetarians. Dinner usually consisted or 2 choices including a meat or pasta dish, salad, bread and dessert. We were never left hungry and the kids never complained about the food. There is also a children menu usually consisting of mac and cheese and nuggets. We would have preferred a bit more fresh fruit choices at both breakfast and lunch.
There is also a saloon on the property that allows kids everywhere but the bar area. It was hopping on rodeo night but not so busy during other times
With daily overnight rates starting at $129 per person winter and $149 summer with all meals and unlimited horseback riding the value here is tremendous. Considering in these parts a 1 hour horseback ride can fetch $50, the actual cost is terrific. There are also rates for longer stays depending on how many days you would like to ride.
I did consider giving the ranch a 5 star rating, however given the outdated decor of the cabin this would not be fair. If you want to ride horses and have a terrific family vacation, this is the place to be.
Bring along a helmet for each rider.
A cowboy hat will make you feel right at home.
Bring jeans to wear on the saddle.
Bring a raincoat or poncho just in case.
Yes...you must have boots. Cowboy boots work best Ma'am!
Our family really enjoyed the ranch. The girls are already planning a return visit with friends to introduce them to riding and their favorite horses. At these prices we are considering it. I would definitely recommend staying at the ranch, the best times being mid-week.
Disclosure: While my family and I were graciously provided a complimentary stay at the Malibu Dude Ranch, I was not required to provide any specific details and all opinions are my own.
June 20 2014
1 family found this helpful
The Sugar & Spice Ranch
884 Rikki Drive,
"Mother Daughter Horse Camp"
The Sugar and Spice Ranch
My 12 year old daughter and I recently stayed for a 1 week camp at the Sugar and Spice Ranch in Bandera Texas, the self-proclaimed Cowboy Capital of the world. Bandera is about 1 hour from San Antonio and the ranch itself about 5 minutes from town. The town itself attracts visitors from all over the world with cute shops and restaurants.
The Sugar and Spice Ranch is a horse-riding instruction camp specifically designed for mother/daughter exploration. Leigh McCourt and her family strive to instill the basics of horseback riding to girls aged 5 and up along with their mothers. Families and others wishing to stay at the ranch can stay during special weeks.
Leigh makes it a point to interview prospective guests to gauge their interest level, expectations and experience prior to booking a stay. She wants to be sure that it is the right place for you and your daughter. It was definitely the right place for us. My daughter is an animal lover and especially loves horses. While I rode periodically as a child until about age 9, our recent horse-riding experience included mostly fabulous trails rides in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Leigh interviewed us about our experience and matched us up with a horse that would best fit our needs. A mature, lovely lady by the name of Willow became my horse partner for the week. My daughter was matched up with a feisty but fun fellow called Splash.
Moms and daughters here can expect a routine throughout their weeklong stay. Each day campers rise at 8am to feed the ranch animals including barn cats (and their kittens), ranch Labradors, chickens and of course horses. While most of the horses feed off the round bale or graze, there are a select few on specialized diets of feed and beet pulp which we had the pleasure of mixing with water each day if we desired. After feeding the animals, campers are provided with a home style breakfast often consisting of the eggs collected while feeding the chickens.
Following breakfast horses are ‘caught’ and readied them with a fastidious grooming. The horses are then saddled up and ridden in the arena on the ranch. During ride time campers lead their horses on timed trials, both individual and tandem, through an obstacle course and a mother /daughter game of Speedy Spur around the track. All the campers then fall in for a game of Musical Barrels which is like musical chairs but with a horse.
After the first ride, saddles are removed, lunch is eaten and a swim takes place in the refreshing saltwater pool on the ranch. Then the games are repeated a second time and dinner is served thereafter.
The times trials allow riders to see how far they come during the week and maybe instill a bit a competition. At the end of the week campers are informed of their first time and last time and ribbons are awarded. My daughter loved this part and was especially proud of her improvement.
Leigh typically has an evening activity to help campers wind down for the night. On different nights we were entertained by a local cowboy crooner, watched Black Beauty while sharing some ice cream and took part in a local rodeo where one of the ranch family competed in the Bull Riding and the young campers got to compete in a Mutton Chase!
Later evenings are spent winding down, catching up and getting to know your bunk mates in the bunk house. There are also chunks of time left open during the week to explore the area. In addition to the nearby shops; there are roads to be explored, rivers to raft and museums to discover.
Leigh assesses the riding experience of each camper and expertly matches them with one of her horses. Instruction on horse grooming and tacking is provided in the barn, and the ranch family will help out with any questions you might have.
Riding instruction is given mostly in the arena in a group setting with an emphasis on technique and safety. All riders are required to bring their own helmet and a willingness to learn. While the group setting is used for arena riding, Miss Leigh and other instructors are quick to point out issues. Lessons are given so that everyone can hear and benefit. By the middle of the week we were used to this and intent on learning from our own mistakes as well as those of others.
Campers are housed in a separate, rustic bunkhouse attached to the ranch. This consists of 4 sets of bunk beds equipped with cot mattresses typical of camps. There are 2 large closets, but no room for drawers. We had no trouble sleeping in the Texas heat thanks to a frosty air conditioner that cooled off our quarters.
The attached shared bath is quite large and includes a shower and large soaking tub to loosen up any sore riding muscles. I found the pool worked just as well. You should be prepared to pack your own towels and toiletries, while sheets and blankets are provided. I wished there were more hooks for hanging wet items and towels.
At the beginning of the week we were shy with our bunkmates, but by the end of the week we were quite familiar with their routines and some degree of modesty was thrown out into the dust!
Meals are served in the main ranch house where the family resides and most are cooked by Leigh herself. Campers can expect to be seated around a large sturdy table after being served buffet style to a variety of entrees including chicken, steak and burgers. Salad is served at most meals as is a loaf of homemade bread. Upon being seated there is a customary quiet blessing and during the meal horse-riding banter as well as stories from home.
You can expect to be filled up and ready for your next adventure.
Miss Leigh and her family invite guests into their home to learn about horses and their ranch way of life in Texas.While you are not required to complete any activity or ride while on the ranch you won't want to miss any of it. Camp is meant for girls over 5 as all riding is done on your own and girls are expected to be able to keep up with the routine and riding. Also it is advisable to leave your feather boa and high heels at home and trade them in for a cowboy hat and riding boots. This is a working ranch and you will be pleasantly happy to get dirty!
Disclosure: My daughter and I were provided a complimentary stay at the camp. However all opinions are my own. Giddyup!
May 05 2014
1 family found this helpful
850 South Colony Rd,
We decided to stop in at Taqueria Mexico after riding the indoor carts nearby in an early cinco de Mayo celebration. This was a good decision. The menu is posted on the board at the counter and there are a variety of different types of burritos, quesadillas and tacos available. We played it safe and opted for pulled pork, steak, chorizo and chicken and skipped the tongue. After placing your order and paying you can find a seat in the clean and bright dining room. The tasty food is delevered to your table quickly with choices of red or green salsas. Both were too hot for my tastebuds but I indulged anyway. The burritos were stuffed fat and full of rice and cilantro. The tacos were soft and a bit small so order 2 for growing kids. Younger kids will find one to be perfect. There are no fountain drinks only imported sugar sodas in flavors like lime, grapefruit or tamarind. There were also a few Cokes to choose from. We at it all very quickly and were happy to have made the stop.
April 04 2014
1 family found this helpful
15 Old Mill Plain Rd # 1,
"Great ambiance for the kids"
We stumbled upon Rosy's after a trip back to Connecticut from JFK. It was a busy Friday night around 7pm so we were expecting there might be a wait. We were surprised to be seated as we entered.
The restuarant is a multi-level building with an open center for an airy feeling. It is decorated with artifacts from the defunct Danbury Fair. This includes a mechanical fortune teller, a strength meter and a cast of the man on the flying trapeze. Everywhere you look there is something to cathc an eye. The regular menu is extensive and has something for every taste. There is also a great kid menu AND dessert menu.
The staff was friendly and quick. There was a strumming singer playing family friendly tunes the night we arrived so this only added to the ambience. We were quite smitten with Rosy's and hope to go back soon!
April 04 2014
0 families found this helpful
Best Western Jamaica Inn
8707 Van Wyck Expy,
Jamaica, New York
"Great for Park and Fly at JFK"
We stayed one night at the Best Western near JFK. No...it is not a 5 star hotel nor is it in a scenic area, however..the park and fly package at around $200 was definitely worth it so we could sleep before our 7AM departure out of JFK. The room was small but adequate. It was clean and the beds were comfortable enough. The bathroom was not well-supplied with toiletries but it was clean and there were towels. There is a free shuttle to the airport for a 5 minute ride as well as a free continental breakfast starting at 5AM which was perfect for us to fill our bellies. The staff was accomodating and friendly. As a bonus they let us sleep 5 in our room! The only down side is that the parking is not on site. You must drive a few blocks to the lot and get a shuttle back. The parking with with The Parking Spot. Upon arrival back at JFK we just needed to call them and we were quickly shuttled back to our car. A word of warning if you do use the park and fly package, be sure to check in with parking attendants prior to exiting the lot...or you will be charged again. (We know from experience but have received our credit!)