Ridin’ Hy Ranch
We have now gone to Ridin Hy Ranch three or four times. My stepmother’s family decided that this would be a great spot for their family reunions, so we go. We’ve mostly had a great time. I thought I’d share a few things I learned while we were there, in case you are thinking of visiting Ridin Hy with your kids, particularly if they have special needs. My son’s seizure issues did cause us a bit of distress during our last visit and we left early.
First, we visit in mid-June and have really lucked out with the weather. We chose the last possible week we could get before “peak season” for the lower rates. We had sunny, clear days every day. From what we heard though, the week prior to us and the week after us were just horrible. It poured all day, every day. Even with the sunshine though, the lake (Sherman Lake) was still a bit chilly for swimming and the nights were chilly. Bring sweatshirts and sweatpants.
Ridin Hi is one of those all-inclusive ranches. You pay one fee, per person, and it includes everything. According to their website, it includes:
- Horse Back Riding Lessons and Guided Trail Riding
- Pony Rides
- Indoor Heated Pool
- Children’s Arts & Crafts
- Nightly Entertainment
- Wine & Cheese Parties
- Cocktail Parties
- Massage Therapy, Manicure and Pedicure Treatments available
Ridin Hy Ranch
I think they have more activities than those on the website. We did most of them. My kids loved most of them. The kids’ crafts were just so-so. They held them in a ski lodge (not being used, since it was June) and they didn’t even turn on the lights. Nor did it seem like they (staff) wanted to be there. It felt like more of an afterthought instead of a fabulous activity they wanted to share with kids. That was really my only complaint about the activities. Everything else was great.
My niece loved the horseback riding and signed up to do it every day. At the time, she was a novice rider. I think that Ridin Hy Ranch is great for novices but an experienced or expert rider may be bored.
My younger son was not interested in horses, he is just 4 and is a bit afraid. My other son does hippotherapy so he did a ride or two.
The guys went fishing several times and even caught a fish or two.
Kevin and I love paddleboats. We do them every chance we get. It’s so peaceful sitting out there.
The setting is beautiful. It was nice to park the car just once and not use it again. There is not much close by.
The food is also included and you are assigned a dining time and eat in a big dining hall with all the other guests. The food was ok, very ranch-y. Very carb heavy, starch heavy. Mind you I love a good meat and potatoes meal. Just not every meal, every day. By the end of the week, I had really had enough. And we were being pretty active, still it felt like I was gaining weight.
We had fun swimming in the indoor pool, but be aware that the chlorine smell was very strong. Almost overwhelmingly so. It also is a bit dark in there and there isn’t a lifeguard. If your kids want to swim there, you need to stay with them depending on their age and ability.
I didn’t do any of the nighttime activities such as games, karaoke and other fun stuff. My kids go to bed early. I had other family members who went and enjoyed themselves. We went to bingo one night and my youngest won $81 which was fun.
We did BYO in our cabin, but there is a bar there where you can purchase drinks. Alcoholic drinks are not served at dinner.
Overall, we had a great time and I would return. It seems pricey, but by the time you pay for meals and snacks at a non-inclusive vacation, it’s about the same. It is a 4-5 hour drive from the Philadelphia area.
If you are traveling with a child with special needs:
- Food: I do not know if they have an allergy-free kitchen, it doesn’t appear so (kinda rustic). If you wish for gluten free, not necessarily available. They also did not have carb counts available for those with T1. If you have any of these issues, would definitely need to call ahead.
- Activities: I love inclusive facilities like this. If my son isn’t having a great day, we go back to our room which is close by. My son has a lot of struggles as far as motor planning and both gross and fine motor, and there was still plenty for him to do. My SIL and I both got a massage. She loved hers, I hated mine.
- Lights and Sound: The main lodge is rustic and dark at spots. It’s all accessible, but be aware if you have vision issues that it may be difficult to navigate. Dining hall was not overly loud. My son didn’t experience any particular sensory issues except navigating after dusk. (Editing to add: The main lodge burned down in 2018 and has been rebuilt. I have not been to the new one yet.)
- Medical care: My son had a seizure and fell, requiring stitches. The care was decent, but not particularly close. Given his serious seizure condition, it made me concerned for him. Albany is quite a distance away.
- Overall, we had a great time and my son often asks when we are going back.
Bottom line: Would I go back? YES!
(Author’s note: This post is way overdue and for that I apologize. It got buried and I just now noticed that it never published as scheduled. We have now been to Ridin Hy at least 3 times, I think.)