If you live anywhere in the southwest (or even if you don’t, people come from all over the world to visit this place), might I suggest a gorgeous, quaint, peaceful, relaxing, insanely beautiful dude ranch for you to visit? For some reason, I’ve lived in Arizona for 23 years and just two hours away from Tucson, but had never heard of this place.
Tanque Verde Ranch is breathtaking. It covers 60 acres of land and is literally on the very edge of Tucson. You drive until you come to this dead end, turn left, and there it is. It’s been in The Travel Channel’s Top 10 Family Resorts since 2007. And the most impressive thing for this child of the 80’s is this is the place where the Nickelodeon show “Hey, Dude” was filmed! I was so obsessed when I was little!
I was so impressed by this little getaway that I wanted to share 10 reasons why any family, anywhere in the world, should consider visiting Tanque Verde Ranch. My husband and I have already decided we’ll be back at least yearly.
1. It’s family-oriented
One of the things I loved about the ranch is that the rooms don’t have TV’s. They do this to create an atmosphere of focusing on family. It gave me the same feeling of going on a camping trip, except we had all the conveniences of a resort-like atmosphere. The best of both worlds for me. I really did feel like we experienced the closeness and fun that happens when out camping and disconnected from the world.
2. Connect with nature while still having the convenience of a resort
Expanding further on what I just mentioned, the biggest thing I loved about the ranch was that I felt like I got the benefit of being out in nature but with the convenience of a resort. And I mean, we were VERY one with nature. Most of the nights that we walked back to our room, I looked like a tap dancer having a seizure because of how I thought every bug in Arizona was trying to get me. My family all got some good laughs and not a single bug got me, but I definitely felt like I was out in the wilderness, except I got to lock a door and climb into a comfy bed at night.
The boys loved this place because of how much wildlife they got to see.
3. Pools, indoor and out
A pool, as anyone with children know, is always a favorite activity. They have multiple pools; one for small children, and indoor and outdoor pool, and a jacuzzi which is also indoors. We spent half our time equally indoor and outdoors. It was hot when we were there and perfect for swimming outdoors, but I didn’t want the boys to get sunburned so we went to the indoor pool as well. The boys actually liked this pool the best for some reason.
4. Dining only a walk away
God bless all-inclusive resorts. There is literally nothing more heavenly than not having to think about what to do for dinner. Even on regular trips, it can be a hassle to get the kids in the car to go eat at a restaurant and drive back, etc. So being able to walk from our room down to the dining area for an amazing meal was the best. And before dinner time, you can smell meats smoking and barbecue all throughout the ranch.
Breakfast and lunch were buffet-style, which I loved, and dinner was brought out by a server. We didn’t have one meal that I didn’t think wasn’t good. It was all good, soooo good. Walking back to our room every night we discussed in length how amazing the food was.
5. Kid’s club house
They have an awesome kid’s club house that has activities from 7am to 3pm. Some of the activities a parent is required to be there for, like grooming or riding horses, but if you want to do an activity and your child is okay to stay at the club house without you, you can go and do your activity while they’re taken care of.
We didn’t, because the minimum age requirement is 4 and Dacky is only 2, but I love that they have that option for parents so that the parents can still go do things like take a yoga class or a horse ride.
Right next to the club house they have a little playground which we took advantage of each morning we were there. After waking up and getting ready, we’d stop by the dining area for some breakfast bars and coffee, and then walk over to the playground. The boys would play for about an hour while we fully woke up. The playground is also in a shaded area if you’re there in the morning, so it was nice and cool. Afterwards we went back to the dining area for a real breakfast, which was served every morning starting at 7:30am.
7. Outdoor activities
My husband is very outdoorsy and he was almost annoyingly pumped up about all the activities he wanted to do here. They have photography hiking, horseback riding, yoga classes, bicycling, wrangling, fishing, etc. Luis got some pretty shots surrounding the ranch while out horseback riding.
8. Nature center
My boys loved the little nature center they have. They have all kinds of snakes, spiders, skulls, pictures of more creepy things, and so on. On Sundays they told us they have a small presentation there by a snake expert. The boys thoroughly enjoyed seeing all of the creepy-crawly things.
9. Special events
It seems like there’s always something special happening at the ranch. While we were there, they had movie night which consisted of a movie being shown on a large inflatable in front of the pool (they have a saloon that serves fresh popcorn all day long too, which was perfect for movie night!), and they also had a “gun show” (as I called it) on Saturday morning. Cowboys were competing in target shooting and other things.
I know I said the resort convenience while being in nature was my favorite thing, but maybe it’s this instead. The ranch is very laid back; you basically feel as if you’re staying at someone’s house and they tell you to have free reign and enjoy yourself. We walked around the ranch exploring so many things. It was extremely peaceful and tranquil.
Word spread that I was obsessed with the show “Hey, Dude”, so the owner brought over a former cast member, Sarge, for me to meet who still works on the ranch. Luis and I just kept saying “Everyone is SO nice here.”
Everything was slow on the ranch. It was quiet. The desert surrounding us was so peaceful. The food was hearty. The people were kind. It was unlike any resort experience I’ve ever had. And now I wish I could permanently live on a dude ranch! (The all-inclusive resort kind, ha!)