Malibu Dude Ranch
insight guides

Who hasn’t wanted to wrangle cattle or explore a forest trail from the back of a horse? The Northeast has resorts and guest ranches that specialize in equestrian pursuits. Most are geared for riders with none-to-moderate experience and safety is paramount. The horses are patient “been there, done that” steeds.

Related: Whale watching adventures on Canada's East Coast

There’s a lot more than trail riding. Family resorts have pools, games, and kids’ activities, while other ranches have spas and gourmet dining. It’s worth checking for specials, including singles weekends and bachelor/bachelorette parties. Here are good places to pull on your boots and breeches:

Malibu Dude Ranch, Milford, Pennsylvania
“Head ‘em up; move ‘em out” at this all-inclusive working cattle ranch in the Poconos. Children age 8 and above can join the trail rides, while younger buckaroos have pony rides. There are three-hour cattle drives for riders age 13 or over. Through Labor Day, there’s a rodeo on Saturday night, while non-horse options include an indoor pool, mini-golf and lakeside cookouts.


Rockinghorse Ranch, Highland New York
At this highly rated, all-inclusive family resort, kids 7 and over can ride, while there are pony rides for younger kids. There’s a kids’ program for 6–12 year olds and a nursery for newborn to 5 years with a 1-to-3 care ratio. Other activities include an indoor water park, wagon rides and the chance to meet the resident camel and zebra.

B and B Guest Ranch, Cooperstown, New York
This ranch features just five guest rooms, plus a riding stable, a spa and wellness center and a working community agriculture farm with a farm-to-table kitchen. If you want to vacation with your own horse, they welcome visiting boarders.

Icelandic Horse Farm, Waitsfield, Vermont
Come here for a very civilized adventure with luxury accommodations, fine dining and the chance to ride these unusual gaited horses. Riders must be 10 or older and an intermediate level of experience is preferred, although they can provide instruction for beginners. Full- and half-day trail rides and two- to six-day treks are available.

Mountain Top Inn and Resort, Chittenden, Vermont
In Central Vermont, the focus here is on the outdoors and wellness. Trail rides are high on the activities list, including a three-hour lunch ride. If you want to take lessons, a certified instructor is in residence. This is another place to vacation with your horse. Other activities include yoga classes, boating and savoring the views.

Marriott Ranch, Hume, Virginia
Romantic trail rides (the Chaps and Chardonnay Package), cowboying (City Slicker Package with lessons in “cattle skills”), and full-day trail rides are on offer at this luxury location in the Blue Ridge. There are also 90-minute trail rides daily and a dinner ride with steak and cowboy songs at twilight.

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