This week, Andy, Tom, and I took a short vacation to Westgate River Ranch Resort, just outside of Lake Wales, Florida. This was a new type of Florida vacation for us. Usually we do trips and adventures that involve going to the beach, traversing crystal spring waters, or visiting local parks. Westgate River Ranch is a Dude ranch in Central Florida along the Kissimmee River. It has horseback riding, fishing, camping, air boat tours, trap & skeet shooting, a rodeo, and more. I figured this would be right up a teenage boy’s alley. Good thing I was traveling with two of them.
The boys and I picked out a different activity for each day. Monday was an air boat tour, Tuesday was horseback riding, and Wednesday was trap shooting. We arrived at Westgate River Ranch on Monday, checked into our room and had some lunch. In the afternoon, it was time for our air boat tour. None of us had ever been on an air boat before, it was a neat experience! Our tour took us along the banks of the Kissimmee River where we saw lots of Florida wildlife, including several large alligators sunning themselves on the breezy day. We loved how the boat was able to just skim across the grass and lily pads without getting stuck, and the wind and speed was a lot of fun!
On Tuesday morning we went for our group horseback ride. The trip took us back into the property of the ranch, where we rode along horse trails that went around small lakes, past a herd of buffalo, and in and out of oak forests. The horses were well behaved and it was fun and relaxing to ride along with the group.
Wednesday was trap shooting, and this is what Andy and Thomas were most excited for! We were given instructions on safety and operating our 20 gauge shotguns, then taken out to the trap range. Our guide also gave us pointers on our stance and form, as he led us all through our 20 shells a piece. It looks a lot easier than it actually is! Thomas got more hits than both Andy and I, he was pretty proud of himself.
In and around our big activities, we also enjoyed being on the ranch. There were lots of animals to watch, and a nice petting zoo to get a closer look. Andy and I explored the Kicco Wildlife Management area each morning on a run, and even found where the Florida Trail cuts through Westgate River Ranch (we ran a short bit on the Florida Trail as well!). We even took an afternoon “field trip” to Vero Beach, which was about an hour’s drive from the Ranch. We don’t usually get to visit the East Coast Beaches!
Westgate River Ranch was a great place to have a new and different type of Florida vacation. We loved the activities and the focus on being outdoors. It was great to see how the original Florida ranchers and their land looked back in the day. It was a big hit for two teen boys! They said their favorite activity was the trap shooting, but everything we did was enjoyed by all.