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Westgate River Ranch Glamping Experience: Florida’s Spectacular Dude Ranch

Westgate River Ranch Glamping Experience:  Florida’s Spectacular Dude Ranch

Westgate River Ranch in Central Florida is not just any visit; it’s an unforgettable glamping experience on Florida’s largest dude ranch. Enjoy horseback riding, airboat rides, luxe teepees, live rodeo, and more. Situated 90 minutes south of Orlando, an hour from Lakeland, or 45 minutes west of Vero Beach, Westgate River Ranch Resort & Rodeo offers a luxurious or rustic vacation or a mix of both. Here’s what impressed us during our Westgate River Ranch glamping experience.


Thanks to Westgate for hosting our amazing stay. As always, reviews and opinions are 100% ours and unbiased. 

The Glamping Adventure

Glamorous camping, or glamping, is a popular choice for those seeking a luxury camping experience in Florida and throughout the country. At Westgate River Ranch, their spacious glamping tents can accommodate up to four people and offer a range of amenities, including a mini-fridge, microwave, air-conditioning, and even a space heater.


Each tent features a screened-in porch with rocking chairs and a private table and chairs set, where breakfast is conveniently delivered each morning.


While the tents do not have private bathrooms, guests can access a large bathhouse facility, where they are given a key to their designated bathroom. The bathhouse offers showering, toilet, and sink facilities, as well as ample space for changing.


The glamping areas are centered around a grand fire pit where guests can gather for s’mores and campfire fun. The soft glow of strung lights among the trees enhances the picturesque setting. Additionally, each tent has a picnic table, charcoal grill, and an outdoor water source for convenience.


Other Westgate River Ranch Accommodations

Westgate River Ranch offers a range of luxury stay options, including Luxe Teepees, Conestoga wagons, and glamping. Luxe glamping, different from my standard glamping mentioned above, stands out with its upscale features, complete with a full bathroom and a walk-in shower. Guests even enjoy the convenience of a golf cart, adding to the VIP experience.


For those seeking a different kind of accommodation, there are lodge rooms and one to two-bedroom cottages located near the swimming pool. Additionally, options are available for RV parking, tent camping, and platform camping.


As for the newest addition, Westgate’s Saddle Club accommodations have been voted as some of the best cabins around Central Florida. Combining stylish decor and rustic charm, they create an authentic ranch-like atmosphere. Guests are also afforded a full kitchen and all the feels of being home.

Saddle Club accommodations are available in one to two-bedroom or studio cabins, as well as saddle club rail cars.

Hint: Westgate offers a paved and lighted air strip for pilots to safely land.


Westgate River Ranch Activities

At Westgate River Ranch, there are many activities to keep your family engaged during your vacation. Some are included, while others require an additional fee. I recommend booking optional activities early, as popular ones like airboat rides and boat rentals tend to fill up quickly.

Enjoy a wide array of amenities such as mini golf, swamp buggies, horseback riding, an archery range, trap & skeet shooting, a petting farm, rock climbing, pony rides, mechanical bull, cowboy adventure park, and more.

Pro Tip: It is worth the money to rent a golf cart. You’ll want to zip around the property and see more of it.


Airboat Rides are Awesome

The airboat ride at Westgate River Ranch is truly unforgettable. Along the Kissimmee River, we effortlessly spotted sunbathing alligators, grazing cattle and deer, and abundant birdlife, including Red Tail hawks and turkeys.

Our knowledgeable, native Floridian guide shared valuable insights on the local ecosystem and Florida’s contemporary environmental challenges. We deeply appreciated his expertise and his dedication to promoting ecotourism in the region.


Shopping Options

Westgate’s Village Shops resembles a timeless town square, complete with a post office, Western store, General Store, kids club, and gym.

Looking for cowboy boots? Visit the Western Store. The General Store has a wide selection of packaged foods, refreshing drinks, souvenirs, and more. Coffee Corral, a nearby spot, serves Starbucks coffee, breakfast options, and Hershey ice cream. Inside the general store, the Deli provides breakfast, lunch, sandwiches, and pizza.

Grab your s’mores ingredients while you’re there.

At the marina’s shop, you’ll find everything from Guy Harvey shirts to sunglasses and hats. Plus, you can purchase tickets for airboat tours, swamp buggy rides, and boat rentals.


Dining Options

Westgate River Ranch boasts three restaurants: Smokehouse on the River (a waterfront eatery, open Fri-Mon), River Ranch Cattle Company (the new fine-dining steakhouse, not open yet during my stay), and River Ranch Saloon (Fri-Sat, late night, for cocktails, live music, and line dancing).


Westgate Smokehouse Grill serves three meals daily. My husband and I had impeccable service and delicious food for each. At breakfast, we enjoyed the weekend buffet with scrambled eggs, bacon, potatoes, pancakes, French toast, grits, yogurt, fruits, and more.

For lunch, we feasted on Wings and Things, Coconut Shrimp, and Mozzarella Sticks. Dinner was our favorite- a Chicken Tender Basket with sidewinder fries for me and Smoked Baby Back Ribs with coleslaw and kettle-baked beans for Eddie. Eddie also enjoyed an occasional cold draft beer and margarita during our stay.


Exotic and Farm Animals

Around the Westgate property, there’s a fantastic variety of animals. The Texas longhorns were my favorite, adding even more beauty to my sunset pictures. Other fields had cows, horses, and buffalo. We stumbled upon the bulls (preparing for the rodeo) during our hayride.


Take advantage of the petting farm, where you’ll find a collection of furry critters like goats, cows, chickens, pigs, and ponies. The petting farm area offers excellent photo opportunities with the water tower in the background and scattered farm equipment.


River Ranch Fun for Kids

Experience the best of the property with activities like the petting farm, zip line adventure, inflatables, archery, and pony rides. Sign up for Westgate’s Dinner Hayride, a delightful opportunity for a sing-along and hayride.


Hop on one of the two wagon tractors on a Saturday afternoon and enjoy a scenic ride through the ranch and countryside, often on unpaved roads, where you will likely see some cattle and bulls.


The Singing Cowboy will keep the tunes rolling, playing favorites from John Denver, Johnny Cash, Frank Sinatra, The Beatles, and more. After the ride, head back to the Mustang Center for a family-style cookout dinner featuring salad, mac & cheese, corn-on-the-cob, cowboy beans, cole slaw, hot dogs, BBQ chicken, ribs, cornbread, and peach cobbler.

It was truly an unforgettable adventure!


Saturday Evening River Ranch Rodeo

Experience a family-friendly and fun Saturday night at Westgate’s evening rodeo. With a wide range of outdoor activities like blow-up attractions, zip-lining, a petting farm, a rock climbing wall, live music, and a mechanical bull, there’s something for everyone.


Rest assured, the well-being of the animals is paramount at Westgate River Ranch. These bulls are carefully cared for and housed on the property. Enjoy an action-packed hour and a half of bull riding, trick riding, barrel racing, and calf scramble for the kids.

The night is filled with excitement and highlights a patriotic salute to our armed forces.


A Family Vacation to Remember

Eddie and I had a fantastic time at Westgate River Ranch Resort. We couldn’t have asked for a better stay. We’re excited to visit again with our family.


Read about more of our Central Florida adventures: 

Cool Things to Do in Central FL

Bok Tower Gardens

LEGOLAND Pirate Island Hotel

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Saturday 6th of July 2019

Wow that's a pretty big pool they have there! A lot of these dude ranches really go out of their way when it comes to entertainment, food, and accommodations. More like resorts. I've never been to a dude ranch that has a rodeo. The last dude ranch I stayed at I booked a cabin, but this place also had teepees, a campground for RVs and tents, a large house to rent, plus hotel rooms inside their main building. I have horses and feel guilty riding other horses when I could be riding my own, so I don't usually look at dude ranches for vacations. But what an incredible experience for people who don't have the opportunity to be around horses and livestock and spending time on a ranch. The Westgate River Ranch definitely is worth it for a fun dude ranch experience.

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