When the leaves turn to the colors of wine and saffron and the air takes on that familiar, crisp feel and scent of autumn, we long for a getaway that lets us enjoy the outdoors. And there’s no better way to see the lay of the land than perched atop a majestic horse. These five luxury hotels offer unforgettable equestrian experiences, so slip on your boots and saddle up for adventure.
One of the many allures of this Five-Star hotel is The Stables at The Broadmoor, where you can go on one- or two-hour horseback rides and take in stunning views of Colorado. A professional guide leads riders through scenic mountain trails and past an old mining claim, with potential for sightings of elk, buffalo and other indigenous animals. Children 7 and under can experience a nature walk with a safely led horse and optional parent accompaniment, and horse-drawn rides and wildlife safaris are available. The luxury resort also provides a Jeep-and-horseback combination package: Hop in an open-air Jeep with a cowboy guide to head up to Cripple Creek, where you enjoy a one-hour ride through pine trees and aspen groves. The adventure ends with a stop at the St. Peter’s Dome overlook before the drive back to town. For a more intimate experience, opt for a stay at The Broadmoor’s Ranch at Emerald Valley, which sleeps just 32 guests. Located in the Pike National Forest, The Ranch delivers rustic luxury at an elevation of 8,000 feet, with breathtaking views for horseback riding. All guests of The Ranch will still enjoy Broadmoor-chef-prepared meals and access to all the same amenities, such as the award-winning golf course, Five-Star spa and swimming pools. And chances for outdoor adventure abound, from fly fishing and canoeing in mountain lakes to hiking and mountain biking the scenic trails.
Get a unique view of sunny San Diego by riding through the Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve adjacent to the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star hotel. The trails take you through a forest of California live oaks and past a waterfall cascading through volcanic rock, with plenty of flora and fauna to observe. And with opportunities for mountain biking and hiking the canyon as well, there is something for everyone. The Grand Del Mar also has pony rides and day camps for kids, as well as professional lessons that teach you how to ride, groom and tack/untack your horse. Experience the best of both worlds by easily navigating from land to sea — the gorgeous coastline is a mere five miles away, and you can arrange for private surf lessons, ocean kayaking, cliffside hiking, a sunset sail or beach service (which includes round-trip transportation to the ocean, beach chair and umbrella setup, towels and bottled water) to simply soak up the rays. Back at the hotel, order a gourmet picnic basket and play a leisurely game of croquet or bocce ball on the vast garden lawn. (Editor’s note: The Grand Del Mar has its own equestrian center that’s closed for the season — it reopens in the spring — but the concierge can still arrange all of these activities.)
Explore Montana’s Big Sky Country and snow-capped peaks at The Ranch at Rock Creek, a luxury resort that is home to 75 horses cared for by a crew of veteran wranglers. Venture out on trail rides that range from a half hour to a full day at the Five-Star property, or try arena riding and roping lessons and games such as obstacle courses and barrel racing. The onsite Rod & Gun Club fits you with hats, boots and riding helmets as needed. For those looking for less of a hands-on experience, there are rodeos during peak season, stagecoach and wagon rides, and horse-drawn sleighs in the winter. Adopt one of the property’s horses and care for the animal for the entirety of your stay, all while learning about equine psychology, anatomy and safety, as well as how to catch, groom, saddle and bridle the horse. After a day of riding and roping, slip into a Saddle Sore Soak — a soak in a jetted tub followed by a hot stone massage — at The Granite Spa and feel like the most pampered cowpoke in town.
A dreamy Southern getaway near Hilton Head, Inn at Palmetto Bluff boasts an incredible equestrian program. The 173-acre farm and training facility houses a 24-stall main barn and covered arena, and the property also contains a 15-mile trail system for endless exploration. The Four-Star resort maintains diversified programming for guests of all levels — pony painting and rides for children, trail riding and lessons, and even stabling and 24-hour equestrian care for your personal horses. The elaborate trail system, which crisscrosses South Carolina’s scenic May River, is perfect for walking, biking or horseback riding, and a series of water paths beckons you to explore by kayak or canoe. After a day of adventure, dine with a river view at the casual Canoe Club or the elegant River House Restaurant.
The Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Inn at Dos Brisas sits on 313 acres in the foothills of the Texas Hill Country and is home to a dozen prize horses. The equestrian center features the second-largest privately owned indoor arena in the state, which allows trainers to work comfortably all through the year. Equestrian center general manager Val Darlington brings more than 30 years of experience in the equine industry, including time spent as a Grand Prix trainer in show jumping and dressage, and 15 years specializing in creating equestrian programs at luxury resorts and ranches. The inn offers both English and Western private riding lessons and trail rides as well as training, boarding and equine massage. After a trail ride, select from a variety of other onsite outdoor activities — such as fishing, cycling, tennis, farming and clay target shooting — before savoring a meal in the farm-to-table Five-Star restaurant.