Ah, the Wild West. While the sprawling unknown of the American frontier has been mostly replaced by highways and Costcos, the best parts—horses, cowboys and western-themed decor—are still alive at dude ranch resorts. But you won’t be wrangling any cattle here. Instead, you can escape to nature, vacation in style (think: pools, golf and gourmet food) andkeep your kids busy with endless activities that aren’t playing with an iPad. Has there ever been a better occasion to air out your vintage boots and Levi’s than a dude ranch vacation? Saddle up.
The Red Rock Ranch (Kelly, WY)
Located just outside Jackson Hole, this property gives you all the dude ranch vibes (cowboys, horseback riding, guided hiking, fly-fishing) but with polished amenities (updated log cabins, gourmet meals, pool and a really awesome kids’ program). The six-night, all-inclusive package is the most popular—by the end of the week you’ll be galloping through the Tetons. Oh, and did we mention square dancing? There’s square dancing.
The Ranch at Rock Creek (Philipsburg, MT)
Sure, horses and hikes sound fun for the kids, but add in a 25,000-gallon outdoor heated pool, hot tub, bowling alley, saloon with billiards and bowling and a private movie theater and now you’re really convinced. But trust us, as amazing as your cabin replete with private soaking tub may be, nothing can outshine the surroundings—remember to look up at the stars at night.
Western Pleasure Ranch (Sandpoint, ID)
Yeah, we were scared to Google the name of this place, too. But we promise it’s completely family friendly and so, so beautiful. (Yep, Idaho is gorgeous, folks.) The mountains, fresh air, log cabins and horseback rides will make you feel like you’re back in the Gold Rush. But the whole country-gourmet-meal thing and hot tubs will give you the modern R&R you sorely needed (all while your kids learn to ride horses).
The Alisal (Solvang, CA)
This dreamy 10,000-acre ranch is tucked in the Santa Ynez Valley (30 minutes north of Santa Barbara). It’s a dude ranch, so of course it’s got riding trails and western-themed accommodations, but this place is fancy. We’re talking two (!) golf courses, tennis courts, pool, spa, fine dining spots and a dazzling spring-fed lake (bring your watercolors, Monet). But best of all, it’s surrounded by more than 75 vineyards and wineries. So exhaust the kids at the barnyard or arts-and-crafts stations before you get your wine on.
Tanque Verde Ranch (Tucson, AZ)
An American old-school cattle and guest ranch, this breathtaking desert escape is dropped right in the Rincon Mountains, next to Saguaro National Park and Coronado National Forest. So yeah, it’s got horses and views. But don’t use up all your energy taking in the scenery—you’ll be busy keeping up with your kids, exploring nature through biking, hiking, swimming, fishing and (you guessed it) horseback riding. But if you really want to indulge your adventurous side, you can explore a cave or even mountain climb. If not, there’s a spa on site. (See you there.)