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To beach or not to beach? That is often the question... at least when it comes to finding a great summer vacation.

But when it comes to getting the most for your bucks, could a dude ranch vacation be the better option?

We at Top50 Ranches have investigated and found some surprising results…

Here’s why a dude ranch vacation wins hands down over the much-hyped sun, sea and sand. 

The Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort

Which is the best value vacation, ranch vacation or beach vacation? 

Dude ranch vacations might rack up a bigger figure when you initially sign on the dotted line, but as most are all-inclusive ranches, you won’t need to take much extra spending money for meals, drinks or activities.

Consider that when you’re choking over the price of that Margarita you’re sipping on the beach…


Which offers a better experience? 

Of course, one person’s idea of fun and comfort might not be the next person’s but you can’t deny that peace and quiet on a 50,000 acre guest ranch vacation wins hands down over the popular, noisy, tourist-filled beach. (Also… all that sand EVERYWHERE!)


Which is better for good weather? 

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 generally tend to be located in places where it’s 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 and not need air conditioning.

The Resort at Paws Up

Where will I get better cell phone signal? 

OK, so you’re unlikely to be able to check your work emails while on 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, emailsthe best summer vacation if you’re after a digital detox.


Which is the best for a summer 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 will never look back.

Not only do dude ranches for families provide a safe environment for children to play – for your own peace of mind – but the diversity of activities on offer and the freedom they’ll experience on kid-friendly ranches 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 everyone’s tastes, or having to budget for meals each day.

Food at an all-inclusive ranch vacation is healthy, home-cooked food – often gourmet – with so much variety that every preference, diet and tastebud 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 summer ranch vacation you’ll have a real chance to get to know and bond with fellow guests – and your hosts.

You’ll make life-long friends at any dude ranch, whether you're a solo traveler or with friends or family.

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 against unspoilt vistas of lakes, mountains, plains and rivers?

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, as you really get to explore instead of lying in one spot all day.


Which is easier to get to? 

OK, so not a lot of dude ranches are located just a stone’s throw from an airport as many popular 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.

Still not convinced? Here are some more reasons in case you’re still sitting on the fence:

Summer 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 vacations – 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’.


Written by Mel Rutherford: Mel worked as Website Editor for Horse&Rider Magazine in the UK before changing tack and writing for Top50 Ranches. She is now a successful Personal Trainer and loves to travel.

Original article edited by: Kate Hammaren, Managing Editor, Top50 Ranches

Top50 Ranches is part of the all-new Gene Kilgore Dude Ranch Network – if you're looking for the ultimate dude ranch vacation, start your seach there!

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