Feature

Getting the flavor of ... trips for kids

Home on a Utah ranch; Hogwarts heaven

Home on a Utah ranchRockin’ R Ranch is a “real, breathing, working cattle ranch,” said Josh Noel in the Chicago Tribune. Many tourist traps claim to offer a true cowboy experience, but this 40-year-old ranch in the “low, green hills of central Utah” is the real deal. Four hours south of Salt Lake City, Rockin’ R is tailor-made for families and anyone “looking to roll up their sleeves” and learn the ranching life. After I restored my “riding chops” on a white, 7-year-old mare named Mouse, I was off on a cattle drive, helping wranglers in “tight jeans and wide hats” move 100 head from a “vast green field to a dusty pen.” I joined kids from a nearby Navajo reservation in barrel racing—a game that involves making nimble half-turns on horseback around three barrels—and spent my last day watching the branding of 30 calves. It was a “noisy and jarring” experience—and as authentic as you can get.Contact: Rockinrranch.com

Hogwarts heavenFor “Potterphiles,” the opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter couldn’t have come soon enough, said Monica Hesse in The Washington Post. At Universal Orlando’s new theme park, children and their parents can share in adventures inspired by J.K. Rowling’s fantasy series. Visitors enter a medieval village filled with the book’s landmarks: the Owl Post, Three Broomsticks pub, and “the cheerfully whistling engine of the Hogwarts Express.” From “sloping roofs to teetering chimneys, everything looks as though it could be a thousand years old, held together by Spellotape and a charm.” Looming over the village is Hogwarts Castle, home to the Forbidden Journey ride. To get there you walk through Professor Sprout’s greenhouse and Professor Dumbledore’s office. The ride itself is a “seamless blend of simulator screens and live action,” bound to leave fans in a “hot spell.” Contact: Universalorlando.com

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