Best value vacations Top50 Ranches’ Mel Rutherford blogs on why a dude ranch vacation wins hands down over the much-hyped sun, sea and sand. To beach or not to beach? That is often the question...at least when it comes to finding a great value vacation. But when it comes to getting the most for your bucks, could a western horseback riding holiday be the better option? I went about examining the evidence – with some surprising results…
What is the cheapest vacation? Dude ranch vacations might rack up a bigger figure when you sign on the dotted line, but as most are all-inclusive you won’t need to take any spending money for meals, drinks or activities. Consider that when you’re choking over the price of that margharita you’re sipping on the beach…
Which offers more luxury? Of course, one person’s idea of luxury might not be the next person’s but you can’t deny that peace and quiet on a 50,000 acre ranch wins hands down over the crowded, noisy, tourist-filled beach.
Which is better for good weather – surely a beach vacation? Generally, head to the beach during summer and you’ll be able to sunburn to your heart’s content. But come evening do you really want to be all hot and sticky? Dude ranches tend to be nice and warm during the day with plenty of gorgeous sunshine, but cooler at night – a refreshing break, especially when it means you can get a comfortable night’s sleep.
Where will I get better cell phone signal? OK, so you’re unlikely to be able to check your work emails while on board a western ranch horse halfway up a mountain in wildest Montana. But do you really want to? Dude ranch vacations offer a great way to escape computer games, cell phones, Facebook, emails… You’ll wonder why you ever relied on modern technology in the first place!
What’s the best family vacation? Ask your children outright and they might be all for making sandcastles on the beach, paddling in the sea and enjoying a popsicle on the shoreline. But take them on a dude ranch vacation and they won’t look back. Not only do family dude ranches provide a safe environment for children play – for your own peace of mind – but the diversity of activities on offer and the freedom they’ll experience on a dude ranch way surpasses that at any beach resort. As a bonus you’ll be able to spend plenty of quality time with your children, whether it’s on horseback trail rides, lake water sports or around the campfire under an evening blanket of stars.
Where will I find the best food? Forget having to search for and book a restaurant every night that might not be to the whole family’s tastes, or having to budget for meals each day. An all-inclusive ranch vacation provides healthy, home-cooked food – often gourmet – with so much variety that every preference, diet and tastebuds will be satisfied at every mealtime. Simply rock up to the dining room three times a day and get your fill – there’s no charge for second, third or even fourth helpings! Most dude ranches even include snacks, beverages and alcohol for your entire vacation.
Which offers the best social life? While the closest you might come to making new friends on a beach holiday is asking a stranger if the sun lounger is taken, on a dude ranch vacation you’ll have a real chance to get to know and bond with fellow guests – and your hosts. I can say from personal experience that you’ll make life-long friends at any dude ranch. It’s a great place for kids to make new friends too, and develop valuable social skills that only come from a group environment such as that offered on ranch children’s programs.
Where will I get the best views? No one can deny the beauty of a gorgeous sunset over the ocean horizon, or a deserted white sandy beach. But where else apart from a dude ranch vacation can you open your cabin door in the morning to find wildlife on your doorstep? Where else can you ride right alongside the likes of elk, deer and coyote, or see rare species of birds? Views certainly don’t come better than from the back of a ranch horse. And speaking of sunsets, Montana - being ‘Big Sky Country’ – is my personal choice when it comes to the perfect views.
Which is easier to get to? OK, so not a lot of dude ranches are situated just a stone’s throw from an airport like many beach resorts are. But you’ll save a packet on car rental on a dude ranch vacation – most offer a free shuttle from the airport to your cabin doorstep, and with so much to do on-site you’ll never want to drive anywhere else. If there are some local attractions to see, most ranches offer trips included in the price of your vacation.
Not convinced? OK, so I think we’ve gathered why dude ranch vacations beat beach vacations hands (or should that be hooves/!) down. But here are some more reasons in case you’re still sitting on the fence…
Dude ranch vacations – great for...
- National Parks close by to many dude ranches
- More activities than you or your kids will know what to do with! Think horseback riding, fly fishing, canoeing, hiking, cattle drives, white water rafting and SO much more…
- It’s a great way to have fun and be active!
Beach vacation - great for:
- Splitting up the family – you’re gonna have to head in different directions to find your personal choices of entertainment
- Spending all day reading – tour books and brochures, that is. Without a tour guide, you’re going to need all the information offices, maps and guidebooks you can get your hands on.
- Giving into your kids – you probably should buy them that toy or bar of candy to avoid a public tantrum, when they’re overtired after having spent all day out in the sun.
- Seeing wildlife – if you can call animals in a zoo or aquarium ‘wild’