Family Road Trip: Alisal Ranch

Family Road Trip: Alisal Ranch

10 Reasons to Giddyup and Go

Parents and families....this one's for you. I had a little, "vacation epiphany," after spending the weekend at ALISAL RANCH with my husband & two monkeys. Brief set-up: As you may know, I'm from Chicago....it gets cold there. And while my blood has thinned, I still miss the falling leaves, the heavy coats...the marker that time is passing. So, excited for my kids (and my SoCal-grown husband) to experience the foliage and weather, we hopped into the car in search of a "Taste of Autumn". We got that for sure, but...and here's the epiphany....I also think this trip reminded me what a "family vacation" really is. Alisal isn't just a "kids club" where you can leave your little ones, and scramble for grown-up time. It doesn't simply "tolerate" kids and it doesn't pander to them either. Alisal is pure, old-fashioned, "unplugged," family time. We all re-connected through activities that kept us interacting with nature and animals...and each other. It was genuinely relaxing and relationship-building. Plus, the sweet, down-to-earth staff really wants you to have a great time. Yes, it's true....good service! Is it pricey? Yes....it is. Is it luxe? No, not really. The setting is absolutely BEAUTIFUL but this is not about Molton Brown bath products and Frette linens...and ok, I wouldn't have refused a bit more of that. But much more importantly, we made simple, happy, family memories and got some much needed, "stress-medicine". Here are a few reasons we'll be back... xx -e

  1. The Morning Hayride hayride hayride wagon Day One began with a morning hayride, something I remember loving from my own childhood.  It was so much fun to remember it through my kids' experience.  We bounced around the wagon, sat on bails of hay and got some close-up peaks at some of the most beautiful creatures and landscape.  It was chilly but we were dressed for it so that just added to the whole experience.  By the time we got to the flapjack breakfast, we were ready to eat!
  2. Flapjacks, Campfires & Singing Cowboys  alisal mommy and leni legs at fireCan you believe how happy a few flapjacks could make a kid? But it was much more than that. Aside from the huge griddle filled with pancakes, was an amazing buffet of biscuits and gravy, bacon, eggs, cereal, oj, etc.  We all warmed up by the fire, enjoyed the amazing scenery and listened to songs courtesy of our very own, guitar-playing cowboy.  After breakfast, the kids ran into a nearby cottage to discover some "wild" wall art of the hunting-trophy variety, and played in the leaves.
  3. Beautiful Waterfront For Boating & Fishing  alisal asher and leni on dock dad and kids fishing The waterfront was filled with incredible things to do and see.  And with shuttles leaving each hour, it was easy to access as well. Let's just call it one, experience-filled, photo op!  Fishing, Row Boats, Paddle Boats and tons of nature to explore.  The kids made forts inside downed tree trunks and collected rocks.  They ran through tall grasses and filled themselves up with fresh air and giggles.
  4. Summer Camp Sports Like Riflery and Archery alisal mommy an dasher shooting shooting range Don't judge me...yes, we got our bb gun riflery on.  If you know me, this won't surprise you but I actually lost sleep worrying about this decision...and then remembered how much I loved the experience as a kid, so we just went for it.  As you can see, mom got in on the action.  Leni had to sit this one out, though....only for the bigger kids.  We had great instruction and it was all about, "safety first"! PS: Bragging rights for hitting some pretty tiny targets :)
  5. Horseback Riding asher on horse leni on horseHorseback Riding is one thing my kids are crazy for and they couldn't wait to go.  Asher went on a 2 hour trail ride with his dad and game back with incredible stories of how he trotted.  He was so proud and exhilarated and it was absolutely infectious.  Leni hung back with me where she got to ride "Cactus" around the ring.  We gave that poor horse so many drinks of water, he eventually just refused. I thought he might actually beg me to tie him back onto the fence! Hmmm..."you can lead the horse to water..."
  6. Exploring The Majestic Scenery landscape alisal deerYes...I said it, "majestic"....and I'm not being dramatic.  It was so beyond beautiful.  Rustic, gorgeous landscape for miles...filled with deer, cows, horses.  We even saw a bald eagle.  And night skys filled with millions of stars.  It was awe-inspiring for us "urban dwellers".
  7. Interactive Gardens alisal asher corn alisal leni pumpkins 3We had the good luck of meeting Trace Robinson, the landscape designer for the ranch.  She  puts her heart and soul into making it a beautiful, interactive and inspiring place for kids to explore and learn how food grows.  Asher loved the indian corn at the pumpkin patch and Leni brought hers in the next day, for show and tell.  There's also an interactive garden near the dining room and more things to come for spring.  I have to come back and see all the peonies and lilacs that will be blooming!
  8. Animals, Animals, Animals alisal snake alisal roosterThe animals were a HUGE part of our trip.  The barn/petting zoo is filled with pigs, miniature horses, guinea pigs, bunnies, hens and roosters and more.  At one point I had creatures crawling on me that I couldn't even name.  Crazy.  They also let the kids collect eggs and they just loved it.
  9. Autumn!! alisal asher leaves 2 alsal asher with snowExactly why we came...Nuff said!
  10. Oatmeal Pie and A Steady Flow Of Hot Chocolate with Whipped Cream & Sprinkles alisal oatmeal pie alisal leni hot chocoAlisal is known for their famous, Oatmeal Pie, a favorite of mine. My kids will tell you that the Hot Chocolate with Whipped Cream and Sprinkles was their top pick.  I think they tallied 8 between them!

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