Family Getaway in the Catskills at Pine Ridge Dude Ranch

Shannon Smyth

About an hour north of the Pocono Mountains, are the Catskill Mountains. Similar to the Poconos, the neighboring Catskills offer amazing resorts, hiking, camping, dining and entertainment for all ages, like Pine Ridge Dude Ranch.

My goal of shared experiences with my family continually keeps me looking for unique places for us to spend time together.

So I was thrilled to discover something so novel was within driving distance, yet far enough that it felt like an escape from being home.

Horseback Riding Adventure in the Catskills

As the name suggests, Pine Ridge Dude Ranch is horse-focused. From the various designs throughout the resort, to the trails and trail rides, the love of equines is apparent.

Pine Ridge Dude Ranch's herd consists of a mix of different breeds such as: Quarter Horses, Thoroughbreds, Appaloosas, Paints, Percherons, Clydesdales, Haflingers, Icelandics, Morgans and Arabians. All well taken care of, and personalities memorized by the wranglers. (I now understand why the jeans have this name.)

The Ranch offers walk only rides, walk & trot rides, and advanced level walk, trot, & canter rides. We're beginners, so we chose the walk only ride, which is 45 minutes (although from the time you are prepped until you are back in the corral, it is about 60 minutes.)

The evening before your trail ride, you are required to take a 1 hour educational class to learn more about the horses, and the specifics of riding a horse.

I'll be honest, it was a lot of info to take in, and I was a bit overwhelmed. I've never ridden a horse before, but 4 of my sons have, so they weren't as nervous as I was.

When you hop on a horse, you learn very quickly just how mighty these animals are. Their strength is intimidating. The trick is to remain relaxed at all times because the horse will feel your anxiety and react to it.

Easier said than done.

Thankfully, the wranglers match you to a horse they feel will best suit you. And my horse was lovely. Mid-way through the ride, I was comfortable enough with her to talk to her and pet her as she walked the trail.

Horseback Riding Programs

Aside from the trail rides, Pine Ridge Dude Ranch also offers pony rides for the littles, specialty experiences, and private lessons.

Resort Amenities

Upon pulling up to the resort, the forward facing part of the building you see, doesn't appear very big. However, looks are deceiving and the resort is actually very big with every inch offering something fun to partake in.

The resort amenities include: a spa, indoor pool, Starbucks, a grill & snackbar, a dining hall (with all inclusive meals), a hall for entertainment (dancing, magic, Dj's, etc.), a pool table in the lobby, a gift shop, arcade, snowtubing, paint ball, ice skating, archery, tractor rides, rock wall, bounce pillow, playground, outdoor pool, over-sized campfire.... I think you get the point.

There is A LOT to do here.

Fun For All Ages

My son's range in age from 4 to 20, and there were things to do that everyone could enjoy.

In the lobby area, my son and I played pool the night we checked in.

There was cornhole in the hallway, and a stack of board games that could be used by the fire, and an arcade for the video game obsessed.

At night they offer a bag of marshmallows for roasting by a huge stone-enclosed campfire.

Challenging my sons at archery was fun, too.

My youngest, enjoyed the tractor ride, playground and the enclosure with a variety of animals you could pet (and plenty of handsanitizer.)

Accomodations for Large Families

If you have a large family like I do, then you know the pain of finding a getaway that is both affordable and has rooms large enough for you and your tribe of children.

We stayed in the newly renovated Dakota Wing, where rooms boast sleeping for 7.

We were pleasantly surprised to walk into the room and find a bunk bed, King and XL full bed (which looked like a Queen.) There are also cots available, should you need them.

Knowing that this wing was intended for large families, we knew it would not be very quiet. (It's not.) But we typically bring a white noise machine whenever we stay at hotels, so it came in handy here, blocking out the noise from the adjoining rooms, hallway and rooms above us.

Pine Ridge Dude Ranch has other rooms that can accomodate a variety of families - adjoining rooms that sleep 8 between them, rooms that sleep 4 or up to 6, suites, and quieter rooms for couples.

All rooms offer celebration accomodations, so if you are there to celebrate a special occasion, call the concierge ahead of time and they can arrange to have champagne, strawberries, cheese platters and decorations adorning your room.

Year-Round Activities

While we chose to get away just after Thanksgiving, there were still things to do in the cold, as you can see from this article. There are equally fun things to do in warm weather.

And although the spa was completely booked during my stay and I was unable to get in, I hear it is wonderful.

So if you live in the tri-state area, or further, and looking for a unique getaway, give Pine Ridge Dude Ranch a look. I think you and your family will enjoy the experience.

Subscribe to A Girl’s Gotta Spa! beauty blog. Watch our reviews on YouTube, see our pins on Pinterest and check us out on Instagram. Or check out our natural bath and body line!

** This trip was comped, but the review and experience are my own.

Read more →

What a Trip to Scotland Taught Me About Unplugging

Candyce Ross
Why unplugging is important for your health via @agirlsgottaspa I recently escaped the city lights for a week in Scotland. We stayed in a little stone croft in the middle of a field in the Scottish Highlands surrounded by the sound of sheep that served as our natural ‘alarm clock’ and views of the Nevis Mountain Range. It was absolutely stunning and the fresh air and open space left me feeling so well – I was relaxed, calm and re-energised. I wondered if a week away from hectic city life and unplugging from social media could actually have health benefits. Turns out, there are a lot of researchers out there who believe that being outdoors in nature may be essential to good health. It seems the more time we spend in urban environments, the more stressed and anxious we become. Here are some health benefits associated with an escape to fresher air and greener spaces:Why unplugging benefits your health via @agirlsgottaspa Lowers stress and lowers blood pressure Our day to day lives are filled with deadlines, meetings, calls to make, people to see, gym classes to attend, chores to do…it’s no wonder most of us are feeling more stressed and as if there are just not enough hours in the day. Studies have found that people who spend time in the city have higher levels of cortisol and heart rates than those who spend time in nature, such as a forest. An increase in cortisol can lead to elevated levels of blood sugar, chances of diabetes, weight gain and immune system suppression, so it makes sense to try reduce levels as much as possible. When you walk through nature without technological distractions, you are more likely to take in the smallest details around you. This slows breathing, calms the mind and awakens the senses. Increases productivity and problem solving skills The latest scientific research has shown that time spent in nature, away from distractions of technology and urban life allows the mind to focus more and increases creativity and problem solving ability. Walking in nature, gazing at a sunset or watching the crashing waves of the ocean – all these simple activities in nature allow us to stop, reflect, prioritise, put into perspective and resolve problems without the clutter and distraction of urban life. Boosts mental health A Stanford study found quantifiable evidence that walking in nature could lead to a lower risk of depression. City dwellers have higher chances of anxiety and mood disorders compared with those who live in rural areas. Time spent in nature is shown to reduce the time spent thinking negative thoughts and reduces anger, fear, stress and unpleasant feelings. In fact, scientists are saying that there are severe health problems, such as depression, associated with nature deprivation – a lack of time in the natural world due to increased hours watching TV or sitting in front of a screen. Here are some easy ways to incorporate more time in nature into your daily routine:
  • Go for a morning walk – even if its just walking to the furthest bus stop.
  • Instead of eating lunch at your desk, go sit in the park or walk to a café a bit further than the one you usually grab your lunch from.
  • Exercise outside – this is definitely harder during the winter months (trust me I know the feeling of not wanting to venture outside into the cold) but when the sun is shining, opt for a workout outside or swap the treadmill for the dirt track or park.
  • Meditate outdoors. Just ten minutes a day without screens, calls, music. Just you, nature, positive thoughts and mindful breathing.
What are the benefits you've personally experienced when you unplug and get outdoors? Subscribe to A Girl’s Gotta Spa! beauty blog. Watch our reviews on YouTube, see our pins on Pinterest and check us out on Instagram. Got a Kindle? We’re on Kindle too!

Read more →