Although we’ve not yet arrived at Halloween, it’s never too early to start thinking about the ultimate special occasion or holiday gift for the entire family, especially if family members are more into experiences rather than things and have a passion for horseback riding.
This is certainly the mindset of Emmy Award-winning producer and author Darley Newman, who created and hosts the PBS series Equitrekking. While her travel books certainly make great presents for casual or experienced equestrians, when it comes to family travel she’ll insist there is nothing more fun than getting the whole family involved in planning a journey along trails in far-off places that will lead into explorations of new foods, interactions with residents and other interesting discoveries. Here are a few of Newman’s favorite equestrian destinations overseas, accented with sights and attractions unique to that country.
“Ireland is a fantastic place to saddle up as a family, especially at Castle Leslie, a family-owned castle reminiscent of Downton Abbey. Located in Glaslough,” said Newman. “This real-life castle and equestrian lover’s destination is an hour and a half north of Dublin just outside the Northern Ireland border, and features more than 300 cross-country jumps sprinkled throughout the 1,000-acre estate.”
“Beyond the trails, the resort includes a “horse stimulator,” a mechanical horse used for indoor lessons to get familiar with the English style of riding practiced here. Kids over 7 can ride and during special weeks of the year, can participate in a program where they can “own” a pony for a week. Non-equestrians can enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride, and everybody can participate in other country activities such as falconry, archery, cycling, fishing, walking trails and boating.”
Epic Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies is known for its mountains and ski culture, but did you know Canada’s oldest national park is also home to the Banff Trail Riders, which has been taking travelers out on horseback since 1962?
“Snow-capped mountains, glacial lakes and verdant trees surround you as you meander along trails through the backcountry,” said Newman. “Families may choose to stay in a rustic lodge or tented accommodations, thanks to the fact that Banff Trail Riders has established camps in the park. This means that although you may be in a tent, you’ll also enjoy meals cooked by a cowgirl chef. Nighttime entertainment may include campfire s’mores by a roaring fire. Those who prefer hotel lodging can select one of the company’s shorter trail rides. However, please be advised that the weather can change on a dime, so rain gear and layers are a must.”
“Riding in the land of fire and ice is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that’s a great fit for families,” mused Newman. “Icelandic horses are smaller in stature, but are super strong and able to carry both kids and adults. These fun horses have a unique gait or way of moving, making them a very smooth mode of transportation across Iceland’s rugged lava fields, black-sand beaches and verdant hillsides. Trek to waterfalls, spend time with Icelandic farmers or drive sheep into the highlands.”
Newman recommends Ishestar, leading riders for more than 30 years and running trips throughout Iceland, and as the journey is effectively the destination, riders may also learn about Icelandic sagas, hidden elves and other fascinating history and folklore on their adventures.
Beaches, countryside and rainforests make Costa Rica a top spot for adventure travel as well as a wondrous place to discover on horseback. Serendipity Adventures takes travelers of all riding skill levels out on rollicking sojourns through sugarcane fields and farmland, close to Arenal Volcano and cool off by swimming through a river on horseback.
“You’ll see rural Costa Rica in a whole new way, along with wildlife viewing on horseback,” Newman said. “The great thing about a vacation in Costa Rica is that you can combine horseback riding with many other adventure activities, like hiking, rafting and climbing. There’s nothing more unforgettable than views of the beach from the saddle and, better yet, riding on the beach at sunset.”
This nation’s Okavango Delta, the world’s largest inland delta, provides the backdrop for ultimate safari on horseback, according to Newman. “If your kids are 12 or older, this is one of the best places on the planet to view wildlife and as the fall starts, winter ends in this Southern Hemisphere destination,” she said. “The skies are beautiful this time of year and flowers are in bloom. Gallop with giraffes, zebra and wildebeest. View elephants, as you ride through channels of water. Dinners are served outdoors, sometimes on private islands, in this area that will truly allow you to unplug from the rest of the world. Nights are spent in more luxurious tents.”
We’ve seen our fair share (and then some) of drama, trials and tribulations this year, so any reason to celebrate or plan a trip is an exciting opportunity. For the chocolate lovers and sweet aficionados in your crew, Zürich should be on your list this year or next — for many reasons, but specifically for the Lindt Home of Chocolate.
If you are a lover of thrill rides and rollercoasters, you better start thinking about a future trip to test out some new ones in Orlando, Florida’s, theme parks. Throughout the next year, some theme parks are expecting a number of thrilling additions and experiences for willing guests. From two long-anticipated coasters slated to open next year in Walt Disney World to a yet-to-be-announced Jurassic Park roller coaster set to open in Universal Orlando, thrill-seekers and coaster fanatics will be in awe.
In times of stress, boredom and even enjoyment, some of us find ourselves reaching for a treat or two — or a dozen. When you need the crunch or sweetness of a snack, but not all the guilt and remorse to follow, registered dietician Lisa Moskovitz, founder and CEO, New York Nutrition Group, recommends these not-so-bad snacks — they’re also great in kids’ lunches or as after-school snacks!
While urban wine country might sound like an oxymoron, it’s actually a reality at the stunning City Vineyard in New York City’s Tribeca neighborhood. The water-side venue is the perfect host for your next event — whatever that may be, from 20 to 200 guests and from cocktail party to plated dinner.