Staying at Tanque Verde Ranch

Hiiii! Hope you’ve enjoyed the afternoon. I’m getting back in the routine over here: hit up the gym this morning, Livi and I went to the park and Trader Joe’s to replenish the sad post-vacation fridge, and I’m slowly tackling laundry mountain. 

While we were in Tucson, we had the opportunity to stay at an entirely new location and enjoy some authentic Arizona adventures. When Tanque Verde Ranch reached out to me about visiting their property, I was so excited to check it out. Last time I was there was for my Tata’s 80th birthday party, when I was in middle school! I could vaguely remember the food and scenic landscape, and was thrilled for the chance to participate in some new Tucson experiences with the family. It was also awesome timing: we’d already planned a trip to Tucson to see the fam, so it worked out perfectly.

In love
Tom and liv w the horse

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First-time adventures

During our stay, Livi was able to try a couple of big events for the first time: she rode a horse, and went fishing. I grew up riding horses, and Liv has never been up closer than 3 ft away from one. I wasn’t quite sure how she’d react -would she be totally into it, or totally freaked out?- and after petting the horses after breakfast on our first day, she said, “I want to ride a horse.” It was love at first sight.

Livi on the horse

At Tanque Verde Ranch, they have a full kids’ camp from ages 4-12. They have daily activities, with events like swimming, horse grooming, riding lessons, lunch, etc. Since Liv is 3 1/2, she wasn’t quite old enough for the daily program, but I found out that she could go to any of the events if we were there with her. We went to the kids’ riding lesson, and they gave her the sweetest, most mellow horse named Magpie. He was so docile and wonderful, and she confidently held onto the horn of the saddle while saying, “I’m a cowgirl now.” We definitely have a new obsession; she’s talked about it nonstop and I’m pretty sure it was the highlight of her weekend.

The ranch also has a picturesque lake, which is the backdrop for many wedding photos.

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It’s stocked with fish (bass, blue gill and catfish), and guests have the opportunity to catch and release during their stay. We thought it would be fun to take Liv -the Pilot and I both enjoyed fishing when we were younger- and see what she thought about it. She had a blast. The tiny blue gill were easy to catch, and she loved being able to gently touch his sparkly scales before we put him back in the water.

Fishing w dad  1 of 1 2


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Check out the giant bass I caught!


He was so huge, I couldn’t reel him in by myself haha. (He also gets bigger each time I tell the story.)

Tanque Verde Ranch is rich in history, dating back to the 1860s. They first started to accept guests to participate in the ranch experience in the 1920s. Throughout the property, there are placards, photos and memorabilia from the early days of the ranch. They managed to create a very upscale experience while preserving the historic Arizona feel.

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The lobby:

Lobby  1 of 1


Hacienda  1 of 1

We stayed in a hacienda, which truly had the feeling of a small house. It had high ceilings, antique Western furniture, two off-the-wall beds, a large Master bedroom and bathroom.

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Bathroom  1 of 1

The tub was dreeeeammmy.

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Check out the view from the patio:

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The food!

One of my favorite things about Tanque Verde Ranch was the food. The breakfasts were either ordered off the menu or buffet-style, and they always provided a collection of fresh pastries, yogurt, fruit, oatmeal, egg dishes, meat (bacon, sausage) and juices.

Bfast buffet

Most of my breakfasts looked something like this:


We had one lunch while we were there, which was also buffet-style.

Buffet room

They offered fresh salad and toppings, pasta salads, grilled fish, chicken-fried steak, manicotti, flank steak, and this beauty of a dessert table.

Dessert table4


(Including MACARONS, gf cookies + the best 7-layer bar bites)

For our last night, we attended the family outdoor BBQ, which was complete with twinkly lights, 

Bbq  1 of 1

a full-service bar (and they make an awesome virgin prickly pear margarita)

live music, line dancing, horseshoes, 

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The meat is cooked right in front of you (steaks, burgers, hot dogs, ribs, chicken, fish) 

and accompanied with BBQ sides like pasta dishes, baked potatoes, jalapeño corn bread, collard greens, beans, salad fixings, and condiments. I appreciate the fact that they had no less than 5 hot sauce varieties at each meal. 😉

Dinner  1 of 1

Fun fat: the prickly pear is harvested on property each year.

My preggy dream come true.

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I wanted to grab the enormous skillet with a fork and call that dinner. The blueberry cobbler had orange zest and the cherry cobbler skillet was with a touch of fresh mint. I’m definitely going to try those combos here at home!

Family table:


Fam table

A little date night

Madre and nana spent the night with us after the BBQ dinner. They played Candyland and read books with Livi before putting her to bed, and while they were playing, the Pilot and I went on a little date. We walked down to the Doghouse Saloon, which has a full bar, a popcorn machine, pool tables and a lounge area.

The Pilot ordered a beer, I had a club soda: 


and we sat outside on the patio and chatted for a while. When you’re a little bit removed from the city, the stars are INSANE. It was so dark and peaceful. After we finished our drinks, we walked down to the basketball courts and played an intense game of H-O-R-S-E. (Intense = he crushed me. I’m a great basketball spectator, but I’ve gotta work on my 3-pointer.) We encountered some creatures on our walk back to the hotel room: a GIANT bullfrog -which I’ve never seen in Tucson!- and a tarantula.

My favorite parts about Tanque Verde Ranch:

-The fact that you’re still in Tucson, and still feel somewhat secluded. The property is vast, quiet, and very peaceful, especially at night. If you want to venture into the city, you can, but you can also stay entirely on property enjoying the swimming, various activities, nature excursions and meals. 

-The “home” feel. While there are fantastic hotel accommodations (and those extra beautiful things like having the bed freshly made each day), it lacks the stuffy hotel feel. Usually when I’m at a hotel, even when it’s a very nice one, I’m excited to get out of the room. I was so comfortable hanging out in the room, and it was a lot of fun to be able to take Liv around the property to enjoy the scenery and activities. They offer a variety of hikes, fishing at the lake, horseback lessons (from very beginner to very experienced) and full a full daily activity schedule.

-Limited TVs. The rooms on property do not have TVs in order to encourage family time and time out in nature. We’re guilty of using the TV as background noise, even when we’re not actively watching it, and the silence was so nice. I was surprised that Liv didn’t ask to watch a show over the course of the entire weekend because there were so many other things for her to do and enjoy. They do have a TV in the living room area attached to the dining room and also in the saloon if guests want to watch TV during their stay. 

-The chance to try something totally new. We were able to experience a lot of new things together as a family, and some great memories together during our stay.

Some of the ones that stand out:

Livi playing horseshoes with her nana at the BBQ

The smile on her face riding Magpie

Trying to wrangle that catfish

Livi holding her Tata’s hand while they walked together (my Tata and stepdad met us for breakfast the last day)

Petting the horses after breakfast each morning (and how much they loved the Pilot!)

and enjoying such a wonderful vacation. <3

Thank you again to Tanque Verde Ranch for hosting us this weekend!

Have you done any staycations or anything similar in your hometown? If you could have any random animal as a pet, what would it be? I still want a goat. 😉 One day, it will happen. 

Have a great night,


Tanque Verde Ranch kindly provided our all-inclusive accommodations during our stay this weekend, and did not ask or require me to post about our experience. I wanted to spread the word, because it’s an amazing place and a unique option for a getaway or destination travel. We provided our own travel to Tucson. xo

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  1. Mollie Kimmel on August 10, 2015 at 3:37 pm

    That places looks like SO much fun! What amazing memories for you guys! Is the food included in the price for guests??

    • Fitnessista on August 10, 2015 at 10:02 pm

      it was a blast! i think they do all-inclusive packages, or you can purchase the food and activities as you go. the prices for the activities were really reasonable ($10 for many of them) and so was the food ($12-20 for breakfast or lunch; $35 per person for the bbq)

  2. Kelley on August 10, 2015 at 3:55 pm

    Everything sounds amazing…except the tarantula. I would need therapy after seeing that.

    • Fitnessista on August 10, 2015 at 10:01 pm

      hahah! they’re pretty common in tucson, and i guess you can hold them without them biting or anything, but i’ve never been brave enough

  3. leeann on August 10, 2015 at 4:07 pm

    Eek! I want to eat the food….all of it! Looks amazing! My husband has always wanted a ferret. They creep me out. We actually saw a couple walking a ferret (harness and leash) on a bike path 2 weekends ago. Like it was totally normal.

    • Fitnessista on August 10, 2015 at 10:01 pm

      i think ferrets are SO CUTE. kind of want one, too, but can’t they bite you? i think i’d always be freaked out about it biting me haha

      • Katie on August 11, 2015 at 5:38 am

        I had one growing up. They are very similar to cats to me…They use a litter box and are temperamental, but are like rodents in that they can hide themselves and your things. They can bite you, but usually won’t unless you aggravate them. However, they smell!!! Even if their musk glads are removed, they have a smell that I wasn’t fond of.

  4. Erin @ Her Heartland Soul on August 10, 2015 at 5:13 pm

    I love staycations! This looks like it was an absolutely amazing one!! <3

  5. Catherine on August 10, 2015 at 6:24 pm

    Ah that explains the horses! What a lovely place :)!

    • Fitnessista on August 10, 2015 at 10:00 pm

      just saw your last comment! yes, it was beautiful!

  6. Megan @ Skinny Fitalicious on August 10, 2015 at 7:22 pm

    I lived in Tucson 10 years and I’ve never heard of Tanque Verde Ranch, but there are a lot of things about Tucson I never kew about. Is it near Sabino Canyon? Looks like a great place to stay!

    • Fitnessista on August 10, 2015 at 9:59 pm

      it’s east, but it’s at the end of speedway. basically take speedway east forever, and there it is 😉 and yes it was such a great place to stay!

  7. Mary on August 10, 2015 at 7:37 pm

    WAIT I think I stayed there when I was a Junior in high school!! My mom took me to a “dude ranch” in Arizona for my spring break because she didn’t want me drinking and getting into trouble hahaha. That looks SO similar…

    • Fitnessista on August 10, 2015 at 9:59 pm

      that was probably it!!

  8. Karen on August 10, 2015 at 7:59 pm

    Looks like a nice weekend away and a great place to stay. I love goats too and would love to have a miniature goat! I have read that you should get 2 so they have some company but I have also heard that they can be a bit of a handful and eat everything! I can’t have pets where I am living now but you never know in the future… 🙂

    • Fitnessista on August 10, 2015 at 9:59 pm

      i heard that, too! our homeowners association in tucson would never let it happen though. womp womp

  9. Carrie on August 11, 2015 at 3:25 am

    We did a work retreat there once. It is a really cool place. I especially like the Murphy beds that you can pull up and out of the way when you don’t need them. And a bed in the wall is just sort of cool regardless. The food was amazing too and the dining room had a nice ambience and the staff were so friendly.

  10. on August 11, 2015 at 3:46 am

    That looks so fun! I love that there aren’t tv’s in the room. Such a great way to unplug!

  11. Bets on August 11, 2015 at 5:27 am

    Oh my gosh, I think I’d go there for the food alone! I’m visiting my best friend in Phoenix this fall and a stop in Tucson may be necessary after this post.

  12. Brandy H. on August 11, 2015 at 5:44 am

    That place looks amazing!!! My daughter would love it! She has been taking horseback riding lessons for 2 years now and talks about horses all the time! So glad Liv enjoyed it too!

  13. Cassie on August 11, 2015 at 8:14 am

    I would love to do something like this in our town!

  14. Katalina @ Peas and Peonies on August 11, 2015 at 8:17 am

    The property is amazing, the food is omg to die for, eat and repeat kind off lol 🙂 and the adventures look like so much fun, I just want to hoop on a plane and take a very long vacation over there!

  15. Melissa Caulfield on August 11, 2015 at 8:19 am

    Thanks for sharing those beautiful pics! As always, u know I love your blog! Wanted to ask you a question! You lead a busy, active life- can u recommend a sunscreen that u like? I also have a busy life, with 3 boys, I’m inside and outside most days. I try get my run in before the sun comes up to avoid sunburn in the hot, humid, New Orleans heat! I would be most grateful for any recommendations! I have acne prone skin and am alwAys afraid of ingredients that may aggravate my skin.

    • Fitnessista on August 11, 2015 at 9:22 am

      hey girl!
      i switch it up every now and again but i really like the kiss my face sunscreen (whole foods. it doesn’t make me break out) and the babyganics (for body) from target

  16. Mo on August 11, 2015 at 8:23 am

    Looks great and Gina you win cutest preggo award ever! Looking great mama!! Glad you had such a nice visit home with your fam <3

    • Fitnessista on August 11, 2015 at 9:21 am

      aww, thank you so much! hope you enjoyed the weekend 🙂

  17. Kelly @ Laughter, Strength, and Food on August 11, 2015 at 8:51 am

    That looks like an absolutely beautiful place!…I especially loved that bathroom and the little outdoor BBQ area!

    • Fitnessista on August 11, 2015 at 9:21 am

      it’s gorgeous! hope you had a great weekend, too!

  18. Grace @ Diary of a Running Snail on August 11, 2015 at 10:25 am

    Wow!! Looks like a great family vacation:) I was sold after seeing those delicious buffets – WOW!!
    And I know they can be vicious, but wouldn’t it be amazing to have a koala to hold and hug everyday?!

  19. Britt on August 11, 2015 at 11:55 am

    I stayed here for my friend’s wedding, it was an amazing experience!

  20. queenoffitness on August 11, 2015 at 1:04 pm

    Because I live in Northwest PA, an area that gets the least amount of days of sunshine per year, it only makes sense to want a dolphin as a pet, right? In the words of Elmira from Tiny Toons, I would “hug it and kiss it and love it forever.”

  21. Elle on August 11, 2015 at 5:12 pm

    Staycationing is one of my favorites! We did an awesome staycation in Kansas City for our anniversary last year and went out to eat, toured wineries and stayed in a bed and breakfast. Its nice to take out some of the travel costs and explore our own city.

  22. Jennifer @ Tri Stuff I Like on August 11, 2015 at 5:28 pm

    What a fun trip! Liv looks adorable on the horse!

    My life goal is to have a pet goat. My fiancee and I have actually had conversations about what animals we would have if we had some acreage, and we’ve agreed on goats, ducks, huskies, and a llama. Yes, it is a very odd combination, and we’d definitely have to train the huskies to make sure everyone got along. 🙂

  23. Tracy on August 12, 2015 at 11:18 am

    I grew up riding horses in the pasture behind my house almost everyday. I’ve always been sad my kids haven’t had the chance!

    Looks like a great place for a family vacation! Absolutely beautiful!

    Btw I’m going to stick with dogs as pets 🙂

  24. Leyna on March 10, 2016 at 9:45 am

    Hey Gina, My husband and thinking about going down to Tuscon and the Kartchener Caverns for our Anniversary coming up. I’m pregnant and we’re trying to find some preg safe fun things to do around the area. Seems like a shame to be so close to the wineries and not be able to enjoy them! Would you recommend anything, or fav places to stay? We looked into the Dude ranch but $500 a night is a little more than we want to spend. Any tips would be greatly appreciated! Thanks a bunch 🙂

    • Fitnessista on March 10, 2016 at 11:12 pm

      congratulations to you!!
      check out loew’s ventana canyon. it’s close to sabino canyon for hiking, and the sunday brunch there is INSANITY.
      let me know what you decide and getting closer to your trip i can give you any recs you’re looking for, depending on what you want to do!

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