We recently visited Tanque Verde Ranch in Tucson AZ with our four big kids and WOW!!! What an awesome experience. As many parents I am always trying to get my family to unplug when we are on vacation so that we can bond as a family. This is not always an easy task. Yet, at Tanque Verde you get the kids on a horse and magically everything changes!!!
1) Talk About a Unique Experience
I remember watching City Slickers when I was a kid and thinking that looked like one of the most awesome vacations E.V.E.R. Granted I am a total horse lover so it kinda makes sense. If you are anything like me than boy… oh boy… is Tanque Verde going to blow your socks off!!!
I mean where else can you saddle up a horse (multiple times a day), go out on trail rides, compete in team penning, take horse lessons, learn how to rope & still go back and enjoy a resort style atmosphere complete with pools, a spa and all you can eat buffets?? No Where! When you book a stay at Tanque Verde Ranch you get to act like a cowboy… and your kids do too! It’s the easiest way to get everyone unplugged and having fun!!!
2) Tons of Horse Interaction
I LOVE HORSES!!!! Like deep down to the core of my soul kinda L.O.V.E. and turns out so do my kids. All four big kids (ages 7-12) absolutely adored the horses at Tanque Verde Ranch. What’s not to love? The are the most well mannered, well taken care of and beautiful horses I have ever seen. They have a mix of Thoroughbreds, Quarter Horses and these gorgeous and HUGE Draft Horses.
My entire family and I were able to take lessons, go out for trail rides, my kids even bathed horses and we had fun just petting them too. It was amazing to watch all of us progress on our horsemanship and riding skills and we were only there for 3 days! I loved watching my kids get braver and more confident on their horses. My oldest even passed the lope check and went out on a loping trail ride. And, I was also blown away by the way that the my adopted son Shea interacted with the horses. I have heard of horse therapy and how wonderful it can be… after this trip I want to look into it. Shea showed complete confidence while on top of his horse and he wore a smile from ear to ear. It was a Shea we don’t often get to see and it practically brought tears to my eyes just watching him ride.
*Another note on the horses. The wranglers are skilled at pairing the right horse and rider. They have horses for beginners and advanced. I felt safe having the kids on the horses the entire time because their well trained staff always had safety as a top priority!
3) Awesome Kids Club
My kids are brutal on kids club reviews. This is because they have experienced some of the best kids clubs around and therefore their bar is set incredibly high. Thankfully, Tanque Verde Ranch’s Kid Club did NOT disappoint! The very first day the kids were paired with their own horse– and then that was their horse the entire trip! This ownership made them want to be at every horse activity scheduled. So, each morning we would check the kids in at 6:45am at kids club. Most days their schedule would be as follows:
- Trail Ride
- Trail Ride
- Craft/ Fishing/ Bathing the Horses etc…
- Pick Up
So, every day from 6:45am-3pm my husband and I were FREE to do our own activities SANS kids!! You know how much I love my kids but man are these breaks wonderful!!! It meant my husband and I could really enjoy ourselves.
I also liked that the Kids Club dining room was located inside the main dining room so the kids would stop by and tell us about their day at breakfast & lunch. And, we would often peek in on their lessons and see how they were doing too. It was so fun!! Then by 3pm its time to pick them up and the rest of the afternoon and evening was reserved as solid family time.
All I can say is any kids club that can get my boys to wake up at the crack of dawn gets two thumbs up from me 😉
4) It’s All Inclusive
I love all inclusive packages. When I am on vacation the last thing I want to do is look at a bill or a check. Thinking about money is NOT a vacation. When you go to an all inclusive resort you never have to think, you can say YES all day long. With five kids we do A LOT of sharing and saying no to things because every little thing times 5 adds up. It was so fun to be able to let them order their own meals, snacks and desserts each day. It was even more awesome to say yes you can do BOTH trail rides and go fishing!!
I was also impressed with the quality of food offered at the ranch. They had plenty of delicious options at each meal including plenty of healthy choices so I could stay on my diet (still trying to work off my Europe tummy). Have a food allergy? No problem! The ranch also caters to all sorts of dietary needs whether it be vegetarian, gluten free etc… There were plenty of options for everyone.
And, it was more than just dining… they had totally unique experiences that were included like:
The Blueberry Pancake Breakfast Trail Ride (incl. with all inclusive packages):
You loaded up on your horse took a gorgeous morning ride up to a hill where they have an awesome country western set up. You hopped off your horse and the wranglers tied him up while you could enjoy the breakfast spread. They had blueberry pancakes, various types of eggs, breakfast meats, fruits, juices, coffee & more!! Then after filling your belly and taking in the gorgeous views you saddled up and rode back down to the ranch. This was probably my favorite thing we did all weekend. It was amazing!!!
The Cottonwood BBQ Dinner & Campfire:
One evening instead of eating in the dining room they loaded us in a golf cart and drove us to a part of the property known as Cottonwood. There they had the coolest set up… gorgeous tall trees strung with lights, picnic tables lined in red and white checkered tablecloths, live country music & fun games (like horse shoes and fake steer to practice your roping skills).
They served us an elaborate spread of BBQ favorites like tri-tip, ribs and bbq chicken. Plus, hot dogs, hamburgers and plenty of sides and desserts too. Plus, once the sun set they lit up the campfires and brought out s’mores for the kids (and adults too). The kids loved roasting their marshmallows over the fire and I loved watching them. It was one of those nights that is so unique and different that I just sat there and tried to soak it all in. Definitly, something I will remember for a long time!!!
*Note- my husband HATES all things country and hokey. He LOVED the ranch and the country BBQ because he said they were authentic so it felt right!
5) It’s More than Just Horses
I will say that I think you should be a horse lover to really enjoy your time at Tanque Verde Ranch because obviously that is what they are known for. However, I was thoroughly impressed by their alternative options. They have a great mountain biking program, plenty of hiking trails, fishing at their own private (well stocked) lake, sports courts (basketball, tennis, pickle ball & horse shoes), a game room with activities like ping pong and pool, two swimming pools (one indoor and one outdoor), a heated jacuzzi, day spa and fitness room. We were never bored on property… and we never left the property either. If you did chose to get out one day there are also some wonderful activities to explore near by like the Colossal Cave.
6) The Head Wrangler J.R.
My husband and I LOVED JR!!!! I mean he just made our trip in so many ways. I mean seriously how awesome is a head wrangler who not only is as rough and tough as they come but who also has to hop off his horse while on a trail ride because he just has too good of a joke to wait? Pretty sure he was Mike’s idol on the trip. He had us laughing and learning how to ride horses the entire weekend!!
So…if you are looking for something different and are curious about a dude ranch I cannot say enough great things about Tanque Verde Ranch. They have some awesome deals right now too so hop on over and check out their website and follow them on social media. You will be glad you did!
NOTE: WE WERE GUESTS OF TANQUE VERDE RANCH. WE RECEIVED A COMPLIMENTARY STAY FOR OUR FAMILY IN EXCHANGE FOR MY EXPERIENCE AND HONEST THOUGHTS. AS ALWAYS ALL THOUGHTS & OPINIONS ARE COMPLETELY MY OWN.