I'm always hunting for things to do with my kids. Yesterday I called my three year old's boyfriend's mom and asked whether she wanted to get together for a playdate. We talked about going to a park, but wanted to find something with a bit more stimulation. I went through my Active Moms calendar to see if there was anything interesting going on. Nope. Then I remembered driving last week and seeing a Pumpkin Festival sign on the street for a place called MacDonald's Ranch. Previously I had just thought MacDonald's Ranch was for renting a horse for an hour to ride, or for corporate cookouts in the desert.
Apparently the Ranch was leased to a company for the last twelve years, and the corporate cookouts and horse rides were what they specialized in. However, now the Ranch is off the lease and the original family owners are back in charge. They want to make the Ranch a place for kids and families to go. For the fall, they are offering a Pumpkin Festival with hay rack rides to pick up pumpkins, a petting zoo, pony rides for the kids, a hay maze, tractors, as well as picnic tables, etc for $6. It's not a made up place either - it's a real working horse ranch. They have 58 horses and one of the owners I spoke with seemed to know all their names. My daughters and I spent two hours there and I had to tear them away from the place. So what if it's 95 degrees outside. The Ranch is made up of hundreds of acres (1300, to be exact), and being in the middle of it you would never believe you are in a major metropolitan area, as it feels like you've been transported to another world.
From their website, a history of the ranch:
"From the beginning of a horse and cattle ranch in the late 1950’s, the Richardson Family is still working the land. Initially the spread consisted of 36,000 acres in the desert that is now North Scottsdale. In the spring of 1970 on Easter Sunday Old Mac Donald’s Farm opened to the public. The Richardson Family realized a dream of an operation that allows the public the hands on approach to the ranch experience. A place where kids from the city could watch a cow being milked, see live ranch animals and be in a natural surrounding as you ride in the sonoran desert. This became Mac Donald’s Ranch and is in operation today.
Years passed, the Valley grew and with the exception of MacDonald’s Ranch’s 1300 acres, the land surrounding became a few shopping centers and housing development. In 1994 Old MacDonald’s Farm was updated to MacDonald’s Ranch and our services changed to offer an atmosphere where you can relax and take a step back in time to an overview in ranch live. In our third decade of operation MacDonald’s Ranch is one of Scottsdale’s oldest and experienced horseback riding stables making it the premier Western adventure in the Valley of the sun."Very few people know this, but my dream in life is to have my own pumpkin farm. This place comes pretty close to heaven for me.