You hear donkeys braying. Roosters crowing. And there’s not a single sidewalk in sight. Are you even in South Florida anymore? Yes sir. Yes ma’am. You’ve arrived at a unique town alongside the eastern edge of the Everglades called Southwest Ranches.
Welcome to classic horse country, just 15 miles southwest of downtown Fort Lauderdale. The town’s citizenry fought hard in 2000 for the right to band together and incorporate as a separate entity from nearby cities, so they could keep their rural lifestyle intact.
But Southwest Ranches is hardly a one-horse town. As its almost 8,000 residents will tell you, there’s much to enjoy here, including outdoor adventure and surprisingly diverse cuisine.
You’ve probably guessed that horseback riding is pretty popular here. American Horse Trails will make your experience wonderful, whether you’re a seasoned rider or it’s your first time in the saddle. The company caters to all ages with five private trails and several tours, from relaxed one-hour walks for beginners to brisk three-hour canters for advanced riders.
The team is also very safety-conscious: every tour guide gears the group to the person with the least amount of experience, so no one feels overwhelmed. Clip clop by day or in moonlight – the natural surroundings will relax your mind and renew your senses.
Explore on foot or by bike
Admire miles of beautiful scenery and abundant wildlife along multi-use trails...set forth on foot or with pedal power. The town offers plenty of wide-open spaces to relax and enjoy the outdoors.
Grab organic goodies
Have a hankering for homemade yogurt, butter, cheese, key lime pie, local honey, baked goods, raw cow and goat milk, kefir, pasture-raised meat and eggs, colloidal silver, farm-fresh fruits, veggies and smoothies? Stop by Southwest Ranches Farmers Market. Unlike many weekend-only farmer’s markets, this one’s open seven days a week.
Tostadas and ramen in horse country?
While Southwest Ranches residents love their rural ways – a guy or gal’s still gotta eat – and this town likes its variety. Shimuja is a well-regarded Japan-based chain with a single U.S. location – and lucky you, this is it! Don’t miss the best, most authentic ramen dishes you’ve ever tasted. Grab a steaming cafe con leche or spicy tostada on the go…or settle in for a slower, more relaxing dinner at Romeu's Cuban Restaurant. In a seafood mood? Pirate Republic serves a wide variety, along with cocktails and Reggae tunes.
Sleep close to the fun
Southwest Ranches doesn’t have any hotel or resort properties within town borders, but several well-rated national chains are just 2-3 miles away. Or if you prefer to stay in the town proper, there are private vacation rentals available.