Make Lasting Memories with a Fall Excursion to Westgate River Ranch
Fall brings to mind delightful images of cool, crisp weather, colorful leaves, pumpkin patches, apple cider, old-fashioned hayrides, plentiful outdoor activities and, of course, toasting s’mores around crackling campfires. For a true feel of this season’s many wonders, why not immerse yourself in fall’s natural splendor at Westgate River Ranch Resort & Rodeo? It’s a hidden Central Florida gem that seems straight out of a Hollywood Western movie – the kind of place where you can kick up your spurs and celebrate the change of seasons in true style!
Nestled off a lonely but scenic stretch of State Road 60 between Lake Wales (“The Friendliest Small Town in Florida”) and Yeehaw Junction (population: 240), the outdoor-themed, family-oriented Westgate River Ranch is located just about an hour’s drive South of Orlando. However, it seems worlds away from the traffic and crowds of Orlando’s bustling theme parks and other touristy attractions. In fact, the Ranch is significantly less busy during the fall months, so you’re free to do as much or as little as you desire during your stay. Many couples actually choose fall as the perfect time to schedule a romantic getaway to the Ranch in order to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life (as well as the frigid weather further north!).
As you approach the entrance to Westgate River Ranch, you’ll glimpse a life-size statue of a galloping horse along with a bright yellow sign welcoming you to the “World’s Largest Dude Ranch.” Once you arrive, just park your car for the duration of your stay and consider renting a golf cart, the ideal way to traverse the Ranch’s 1,700 beautiful acres. You know you’ve truly arrived to someplace special when you glimpse the Ranch’s own herd of Watusi cattle – known for their long, distinctive horns – grazing in the distance. Enjoy the Ranch’s incredible natural scenery, surrounded on all sides by approximately 400,000 acres of state and federally protected wetlands. Believe it or not, the area once served as a stopping point along the trail for Florida “cracker cowboys” (named after the crack of their leather bullwhips) during their cattle drives across Florida.
Whether you choose to simply relax and unwind or load up your itinerary to the max during your stay, there are simply endless things to do at Westgate River Ranch! Schedule a mid-morning horseback riding adventure and saddle up along the miles of heavily wooded bridle trails that wind through the Ranch underneath a canopy of majestic live oak trees. If you’re bringing the little ones along, they will absolutely love the adjacent petting farm, which is home to horses, ponies, baby goats, pot-bellied pigs, llamas, emus, peacocks and other exotic creatures.
Exhilarating wildlife airboat rides along the scenic Kissimmee River (which flows all the way from Osceola County to Lake Okeechobee) are an outdoor lover’s dream with amazing glimpses of nature up close such as alligators, turtles, hawks, eagles and other rare birds. Or choose to stay landlocked for an incredible swamp buggy ride that journeys over and through the Ranch’s wooded trail.
Westgate River Ranch’s thrilling Saturday night Rodeo takes place in the 1,200 Rodeo Arena. This is the real deal folks! Your whole family will be absolutely enthralled by the mad skills of the contestants as they engage in trick riding, bull riding and barrel racing. The Rodeo also features hilarious rodeo clown antics and a rousing tribute to our armed forces accompanied by uplifting, classic country songs such as Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA,” There’s even a “calf scramble” just for young cowpokes! The fun continues after the rodeo with a lively Street Party just outside the River Ranch Saloon where kids of all ages can sing and dance into the night, as well as compete in fun-filled games led by an energetic DJ. The Saloon itself offers “live country-western foot-stompin’ entertainment and line dancing” Friday and Saturday nights!
As you turn in for the night after an action-packed day at Westgate River Ranch, you have a choice of a variety of cowboy-themed accommodations ranging from cozy guestrooms to spacious cottages and cabins. However, for the ultimate outdoor experience, consider Glamping (“Glamorous Camping”), which is about as far from roughing it as you can possibly imagine. Glamping sites are set on platforms in a serene wooded area with spacious, fully furnished, air-conditioned canvas tents (you’ll even receive a key to your own private bathroom facility with shower). How about camping under the stars in a 35-foot-tall, Native American-themed Luxe Teepee, which offers such upscale amenities as a double-sided stone rock hearth fireplace!
Experience the great outdoors like never before at Westgate River Ranch and start a new fall tradition with priceless memories that your whole family will cherish forever! For more information about Westgate River Ranch Resort & Rodeo, visit www.westgateriverranch.com.