Over Labor Day weekend, my parents invited us to join them at the Rocking Horse Ranch in Highland, NY. Rocking Horse Ranch Resort is an all inclusive type places. You pay one rate for all the food and activities. I love having the opportunity to try new places and review them from our perspective. Is it a place that is disability friendly? What is the food like? What are the activities?
Rocking Horse Ranch Lodging
The lodging was fine. Was not by any means extravagant or lush, but clean and ample space. The bathroom was small. Keep in mind that we did not request a room with disability access, so I am assuming that they have such rooms. Our rooms were adequately cleaned each day the room temperature was comfortable. This place is very busy with families and small kids, but the noise level was fine. Not too much to say about lodging. Adequate, but nothing fancy.
Activities at Rocking Horse Ranch
Including but not limited to:
- Softball Field
- Horseshoe Pitching
- Nature Trails
- Lighted Tennis Courts
- Basketball Courts
- Beach Volleyball
- Shuffleboard Court
- Bocce Court
- Fort Tiny Playground
- Bonfire with Marshmallow Roast
- Big Splash Indoor Water Park- Click here to see more.
- Live, Top-Name Entertainment Click here to see more.
- Character Lunches
- Red Ryder BB Gun Shooting Gallery
- Archery Range
- Video Arcade*
- Ping Pong and Pool Tables
- Scavenger Hunts
- Bingo and Popular Board Games
- Men/Women Sauna Rooms and Fully Equipped Exercise Room
Whew! And that is not even including the winter sports stuff! Overall, we were quite pleased with the assortment and availability of the activities. Since it was Labor Day weekend, it was quite crowded. However we did not have to wait long for any activities that we wanted to do. I understand that it is not always easy to get a horseback riding time that you want and that the wait for things like water-skiing may not be worth it. To me, it looked like the water-skiing lake was pitifully small. It seems like they cater to the NYC family crowd, so if you’re from NYC, it probably looks like a decent sized lake. However, it was perfect for the small kayaks and paddle boats that they have which we used several times. It would be better if they would just ditch the whole powerboat thing with water-skiing and let the kayaks and paddle-boats have the whole lake.
But, for what we needed, it was nice. It was very low key. For example, you get a putter and some balls and you do the mini golf course at your leisure. It’s a 9-hole course, but if you want to play Hole 8 three times in a row (which my son did), you can. There often was no one in front of or behind us, so it didn’t matter. That’s usually not the case at more crowded places like at the beach. We loved all the indoor and outdoor swimming areas with all their fountains, sprays and water slides. I LOVED that they had a mini water slide for little ones. It was great to try a whole bunch of things like shuffleboard and bocce. Those are normally things I wouldn’t get a chance to expose them to, which is nice.
I can’t even count the number of activities we did. We tried to get to everything and we were almost successful.
The one thing that made me sad–they have a day camp there, and you could see the kids with the staff, because their shirts said DAY CAMP in big letters on the back. I saw this same set of twin boys in the day camp every day. They didn’t look happy. Maybe there is more backstory to it, but why go to a family resort and then drop your kids off at the day camp every day? I can see using it for younger kids because only kids over seven can go on the trail rides. So you do that so that you can enjoy a trail ride with your older children. But the kids I saw were there all day, each day. They do have organized teen activities at night too.
Fireworks at Rocking Horse Ranch
The fireworks were the best part. From what I hear, anyway. Kevin had a mild meltdown, the fireworks just came at the end of a very long day and he had had enough. I took him back to our room while the rest of my family enjoyed them. As luck would have it, while our room was nice, it had a giant tree right out the window which completely blocked my view of the fireworks. Otherwise, we would have had the best bug-free seats in the house! But from what I could see, it was a very nice display and my family agreed.
Rocking Horse Ranch Food
The food is set up similar to a cruise ship dining room. Everyone gathers in one room and you are seated at large tables. If there aren’t ten people in your party, you may end up sitting with people you don’t know. I have mixed feelings about this. I’m not always in the mood to be sociable and meet new people, particularly if my kid(s) are tired, ornery or otherwise being difficult.
At one breakfast, we sat with a family of four pigs. They ate and behaved like wild animals. They made no efforts to be sociable with us, which was fine, yet I was stuck sitting next to a small girl who spilled every single item her parents brought her. She also whined and complained incessantly throughout the whole meal. Despite the fact that my children were well-behaved, I was still subjected to children who were not.
The dining area was very large and very noisy. So much so that on two occasions, Kevin fell asleep at the table. And it wasn’t “I’m really tired so I’m going to sleep” kinda sleep, it was “This is way too much for me to process so I’m just going to shut down.” The food was fine, more family friendly that gourmet dining. It’s all buffet style except at dinner they take your order and bring you a plate. Lots of very kid-friendly choices like chicken nuggets, pb & j, pasta and stuff like that.
My little guy ate his weight in fruit that weekend. They had a very nice fruit display at each meal. Again, misbehaving (unsupervised) children at places like the dessert bar and drink stations made some experiences unpleasant. I did not see any items labeled as nut free or gluten free. And, I did not make any special requests for special dietary items or things like ‘can we eat in our room?’ to save on the noise. Those services may exist there, I did not ask about them.
Overall, there are pros and cons to it. If your child with special needs does not transition well, this may be a good choice for you. Because once you are there, you’re there. You walk to everything and they don’t have to adjust to any place new. The dining hall and the indoor swimming pool were the noisiest of areas we encountered. If you child is noise sensitive, there are places to go to to escape it and quiet activities available. Also, if you child needs a few breaks during the day, this would be a good option because you can just walk back to your room throughout the day for those breaks. And, the entire family doesn’t have to leave. One parent can remain in room and other can still go and do activities with other children. Everything is very relaxed and low-key, which some kids need.
It’s just one price, so that makes it easy. However depending on how many things you end up doing, you may not feel like you got enough value out of the trip. The food plays into this as well. All you can eat and many choices for kids make it easy, but the overall setting was not to my liking at all.
Rocking Horse Ranch-Prices and Room Rates
I also found it to be very expensive. I realize that once you pay for a hotel room, and had to pay for three restaurant meals and multiple activities, it would probably be the same. But when I look at the overall cost for a family of six, for four days, it ended up costing more than what a week at the beach costs us. And that was eight people for an entire week. The sets of memories from each place are equally as wonderful, just one set of memories cost us much less than a few days at RHR.
Winter Activities-Rocking Horse Ranch
We went during the summer months, so we did not get to experience winter activities. Here is their promotional video about what they offer during the winter months.
More Sensory Friendly and Special Needs Travel:
Author’s note: This was originally published a few years ago but I had notifications of broken links. Sorry but I had to delete the photos from this post because they were hosted by a site that no longer exists.