Glamping Goes Native in Central Florida

A luxe teepee at Westgate River Ranch.

If you’re a fan of HBO’s hot new show Westworld, you will definitely enjoy a little taste of the wild west much closer to home in central Florida at Westgate River Ranch. It’s a three-hour drive from Miami and for urbanites, it feels like a world away. The cowboy-themed ranch is situated on 1,700 lush acres in the heart of Florida’s cattle lands, where a herd of grazing buffalo and striking longhorn cattle make its home. If that isn’t enough open land, the ranch is surrounded by approximately 400,000 acres of state and federally protected wetlands.

At the family-friendly dude ranch, there are a plethora of accommodation levels, from cabins to safari-style glamping tents, but by far and away the best one to experience is the brand new luxe teepees. At $800-a-night, the teepees are one of the fanciest places to stay at the resort and offer a five-star version of glamping (glamorous camping). The teepees are 651 square feet and feature beautiful Native American-inspired décor. They are tricked out with double-sided stone rock hearth fireplaces, claw-foot bathtubs, private screened-in decks, and yes, they are air-conditioned and heated.


The Luxe teepees are located in its own exclusive area, clustered around a canopy of 100-year-old oak trees, named Takoda Village. Outdoor fire pits are lit every evening and are the perfect spot to have a drink with friends at the end of an action-packed day outdoors. To make sure you keep that relaxed state of mind, teepee guests are assigned a concierge, who can bring coffee and pastries in the morning and help plan the numerous activities teepee guests have unlimited access to. That includes horseback riding, trap and skeet shooting, airboat rides, zip line and more. Teepee guests also receive complimentary use of a golf cart for the duration of their stay so they can drive to the quaint general store, the western wear boutique to buy a cowboy had and boots, to catch meals at the Smokehouse Grill or River Ranch Saloon or to church on Sunday.

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Teepee guests also get VIP seating at the main event—the Saturday night rodeo. It’s not just for the amusement of the guests, the Westgate River Ranch’s rodeo just happens to be the longest-running Saturday night championship rodeo in the state, featuring trick riding, bull riding and barrel racing at a 1,200-seat rodeo arena. It’s clear that this is a fun Saturday night for locals, not just guests looking for a taste of something different.

If a trip to Westgate River Ranch sounds fun, but a three-hour ride is a bit too long, hop in your small plane or jet. You can land on the premises on its private, 5,000-foot paved and lighted runway. That’s right, the ranch has its own runway, proving it really is the quintessential getaway for the millionaire cowboy.