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A Dude Ranch Weekend

We wanted to do something as a family to celebrate my thirtieth birthday, but we weren’t sure exactly what that was. We didn’t have the time or budget to go on a big trip, a blow-out birthday party is definitely not my idea of a good time, and not doing something seemed like a bad idea too.

Then Tanque Verde Ranch in Tucson, about two hours from us, invited us to come spend the weekend and it seemed like the perfect way to celebrate this milestone birthday.

Things were complicated a little bit because, at the last minute, Bart got asked to go on a work trip to Barcelona which meant not only was he out of the country from my birthday, but he also didn’t get back until Friday evening.

We originally planned for the girls and me to drive down earlier in the day and then have Bart join us once he arrived back in Arizona, but that day, we decided it’d be easier if we just picked him up at the airport and headed straight out together.

It’d make for a later evening, but we wouldn’t have to drive two cars separately both ways, plus I’d be there to keep Bart from falling asleep at the wheel thanks to a nine-hour jet lag.

You guys, we had the BEST weekend.

The weather was just about perfect, the food was amazing, and it was a great combination of activities and relaxing in our lodge and at the pool.

Also, it’s an all-inclusive ranch which means once you arrive, you can basically just show up for meals, and go to one activity after another, from horseback riding, mountain biking, volleyball and yoga to crafts, games, a movie library, swimming, and tennis. Basically a cruise in the middle of the desert (but with bigger rooms, better food, and horses. Also no seasickness).

We swam, the girls fished (Ella even caught one!) and rode horses, and Saturday finished with a cookout under the stars complete with live music and enough twinkle lights to keep Pinterest happy. There were also some girls visiting from the Midwest who were close to our girls’ ages and they loved playing together all day long.

Bart squeezed in a few naps while Star took her naps, we walked all over the ranch, and we spent a lot of time visiting the horses, Ella petting every one she could, while Ani narrated from a safe distance. There was even a wedding on Saturday night, and we watched the end of it from the pool patio that overlooked the gardens. It was pretty magical.

It was especially fun to have the weekend together after Bart being gone for six days, and we kept talking about how fun a trip with our extended family would be.

Although, frankly, I’m not sure Ella could handle the excitement, since she was talking about this trip for six weeks beforehand. Horseback riding PLUS cousins? No way could her little heart take it.

(Also, there’s a little video at the end of the post about our weekend, should these forty million photos not be enough for you).


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  1. That photo of Star lunging for food is the. best. Baby-led weaning in public is interesting. Good thing you were on a ranch. Presumably they were okay with messes. 🙂

    P.S. Fun fact–I worked on a dude ranch in Colorado for a couple of summers in college. This makes me seem very cool to my sons, despite the fact that I never went near the horses, because I don't ride and I cleaned cabins and worked in the office. It was a pretty fun summer job, though.

  2. OMG. I have always wanted to go to a dude ranch. This looks amazing. We might have to check it out. Glad you had a good birthday weekend.

  3. This looks like so much fun! And I'm way impressed that Ella just hopped right on the horse! She looks like quite the little animal lover!

  4. Looks like such a fun weekend – and I love the little video! I keep thinking I should take more video with my DSLR to document life… and most of the time am a bit too intimidated by the thought of editing it 🙂

  5. Love it all. I'm happy you got to enjoy such a great weekend with your family to celebrate your birthday. Also, I'm pretty sure I could watch hours of video of your daughters talking. I love those cute, tiny voices.

  6. After seeing your instragram pictures, I had to look this place up and have been waiting for the blog post. My concern was that we wouldn't get to enjoy the activities a lot with a baby around. Did she just hang out and watch between naps?

  7. That sounds so fun! I don't think I've ever heard of an all inclusive ranch resort. I'd way prefer that over some mega resort.

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