Top 7 Inspired Kids Activities to Enjoy at Alisal Guest Ranch

We are delighted to welcome  local event planner Kerry Lee Dickey of Santa Barbara Wine Country Weddings & Events as our guest blogger with some inspired ideas on activities for families and commentary on her most recent stay here at Alisal Guest Ranch with her eight year old daughter, Gracie.


Gracie and Kerry Lee
Gracie and Kerry Lee

As an event planner who has enjoyed the many world-class benefits of Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort as one of the top leading wedding and event venues in Santa Barbara and as a third-generation Santa Barbaran, it may surprise you to know that I have never actually stayed at Alisal Guest Ranch as a guest.  As a business owner and mother, I hardly ever have any downtime and find myself just trying to make it through the day working long hours even long after my daughter goes to bed and also juggling her schedule and activities.  I am ashamed to say that I also am often multi-tasking when I probably should be spending more quality time with my daughter.  Not because I’m a workaholic, but because if I don’t do it, no one else will.  When the opportunity presented itself to stay at Alisal for a  Round Up Vacation weekend package, I seized it.

Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort’s greatest asset is the experience that they provide.  And this “experience” is largely in part its employees who are passionately in love with what they do, in addition to all the fun activities.  What they provided for Gracie and me won us over for life and she is already begging me to go back again.  In fact, I plan to invite family next time and make Alisal a family tradition like so many other generations have done over the years.

You’ve already heard about the fabulous horseback riding, golfing, tennis, spa, morning breakfast ride, dining experience and so much more.  What I want to list here are my favorite Top 7 Inspired Activities that I did with my daughter.

1.  Conversation Cards.  We brought some into the dining room each conversation cardsevening and they were a hoot!  At home, we always have conversation, but it was fun to have some topics given to us to bring up some more deeper and meaningful moments.  When we were in our room or enjoying our porch in the twilight hours, we would open the other conversation card boxes on travel and trivia and have a ball.

2.  Board Games & Playdough.  We had a great time playing Sorry! While we brought our own board games, Alisal has board games you can check out as well.

3.  A Mommie and Me Journal. In the one I chose (“Just Between Us” )journal playdoughby Meredith & Sofie Jacobs, moms and daughters take turns answering questions and sharing answers and the only rules are that no one can get angry or judge. It was a truly enlightening experience to read my daughter’s take on things and for her to hear my take on a few things- she learned about me as I learned about her in a “safe” and fun way.

4.  Archery.  Both my daughter and I took a class from the legendary “Dale” himself.  Neither Gracie nor I had ever taken archery before

Gracie and Archery Teacher Dale
Gracie and  Dale

and it was fun to sign up for something new together.  Dale’s incredible knowledge blended with his tenderness and love of what he does- and of the Alisal- made this lesson one we will never forget. I discovered my daughter had more stamina than I did and she watched me bumble through trying to figure things out , being the less than confident person I normally am. It was humbling for me and fun for her to see me as a real human being and not just her mom.

5.  Animals and Egg-Gathering.  There is no greater teacher of gracie gathering eggshumanity than the love and understanding of our furry friends.  Alisal employee Devon took Gracie under her “wing” and introduced her to the furry critters at the barn and helped Gracie gather eggs from the chickens, something she had never done before.

6.  Star Gazing with the The Night Sky App  for iPhone.  We love to stargaze in our family and one of the best places to stargaze is in the Night Sky AppSanta Ynez Valley, Santa Barbara’s own wine country, which is away from city lights and provides tremendous inspiration.  The Night Sky App for iPhone provides your own personal Astronomer.  Simply hold up your phone to the sky and it will tell you exactly what you are looking at.  Want more information on the planets, stars or constellations? Simply tap on it on your screen and it will bring it up.  It was fantastic to be able to step outside or lay on a chaise lounge on the lawn on Golf Row at night and look skyward with this app.

7.  Painting.  I decided to swing by Michael’s  store and pick up some lake painting collagecanvases , paints and brushes for us. I didn’t know how or when or where we would use them.  But I did know that painting something somehow imprints the scene and memory into your soul unlike any other means.  I am not an artist by any means, but it was not about how “pretty” our paintings were as much as the experience of doing this together and creating a memory.

These activities, combined with all the service and activities offered by Alisal, definitely had us slowing down and reconnecting.  The lack of television was not missed at all and Alisal even offers a “movie night” for the kids each night as well. There is simply so, so much to do and every opportunity is a gift to grow closer as a family.

Alisal  Guest Ranch and Resort begs all who come to her  to slow down and get in touch with what is real again.  It is in this, that its legend unfolds and will be permanently etched in hearts always.

For more information on Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort, visit their Website.

For more information on Guest Blogger Kerry Lee Dickey of Santa Barbara Wine Country Weddings & Events, visit her Website.

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