A place to horse around

Double JJ Ranch


There’s something about little girls and horses. Or at least there is for my daughter and her friends. So the prospect of a weekend at the Double JJ Ranch in Rothbury, Mich., was too cool to pass up.

The ranch is one of the kid-friendliest spots we have visited. The staff knew how to talk to kids, how to teach them to ride horses and, most important to me, how to convince the budding cowgirls they weren’t yet ready to leave the corral and hit the trails.

Take off work early on Friday so you can beat the traffic and make it to Rothbury in time for the Friday night rodeo. It starts at 7 p.m., 6 p.m. Chicago time.

We stayed as guests of the resort in one of the luxurious cabins, complete with a separate bedroom with a king-sized bed and two-person whirlpool tub for my husband and me and twin beds in a loft for the kids. A pull-out couch would have slept two more. The all-inclusive program gave us access to three big buffet meals each day. Even my picky eater found plenty to fill him up. (Remember to bring your badge, or you’ll find yourself singing for your supper.)

The 70-year-old resort is in the midst of a $36 million expansion that included the construction of a 60,000-square-foot indoor water park called the Gold Rush that opened in November. During the summer, there’s also an outdoor water park with a 145-foot slide, activity pool and hot tub.

In addition to the water sports, there’s golf (including kid lessons), archery, horseshoes, hayrides, marshmallow roasts and more to keep kids busy. But the main attraction is the horses. Lessons and a daily trail ride are included in the all-inclusive package.

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