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“Favorite place to relax” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Blackbird Farm

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Blackbird Farm
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18601 Van Zandt Resort Rd, PO Box 150, Philo, CA 95466 (Formerly Highland Ranch)   |  
Hotel amenities
CA
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
“Favorite place to relax”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 30, 2010

Whenever I want to get away, I go to Highland Ranch. I find everything I need there. Caring excellent staff, beautiful horses, beautiful scenery, excellent food and wine. The ranch motto "Thou shall not hurry", is felt throughout the stay. I bring my dogs, I bring my son, I bring my husband sometimes. I've stayed at HR for riding clinics, yoga clinics and other wellness retreats. If you're an outdoors person, there's something to do for everyone. Fishing, Hiking, Biking, Riding... HR has it. I love that the rates include all meals, beverages and most activities. Great value in terms of dollars and relaxation.

  • Stayed January 2010
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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47 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (3)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Santa Cruz, California
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 8, 2010

I will never, ever forget my trip to Highland Ranch. It was a life changing experience and I know that I will be back again. You drive up a winding dirt road canopied by huge trees. As you get to the end of the road, the most beautiful ranch opens up at the end of the road. Sprawling meadows, a great barn and the cutest most picturesque main yellow house. There were hammocks outside where you can lounge and have an afternoon glass of local wine.
The food was excellent and you feel like your being welcomed into a relatives house for dinner. The atmosphere is lively, loving and a home away from home.
The cabins are older, classic ranch style. No frills, so don't expect the Ritz. However, I could not have asked for a better weekend getaway.
Horse back riding, hikes in the Redwoods and wine tasting...the perfect weekend.
You can also arrange for a private dinner up by the pond...how romantic!

  • Stayed August 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cheshire
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 17, 2009

We stayed at the ranch for a week with our young family, and from the moment we arrived we were made to feel at home. Nothing is too much trouble, the service is excellent, and the children were free to play around the ranch (subject to a couple of safety rules!), which freed up some grown up time.
The scenery is spectacular, and if you don't fancy the horseriding (which is fantastic, and caters for all levels) you can go off hiking / biking / running / fishing / swimming.
The food is all home cooked and of a great quality. The bar is open, and excellent wines are served with lunch and dinner.
We had a fabulous time, felt totally relaxed at the ranch, and hope to go back some day.

  • Stayed July 2009, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Menlo Park, California
Top Contributor
76 reviews 76 reviews
44 hotel reviews
Reviews in 51 cities Reviews in 51 cities
199 helpful votes 199 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 12, 2009

This was our second guest ranch in the past couple of years. We chose Highland Ranch over others since its - driving distance for us (3 hrs), gourmet food and wine, located in a great location (wine country and Mendocino Coast), small (< 25 guests), and plenty of trails for riding.

We were not disappointed. The food is excellent. We had fresh garden grown salads every meal, fresh veggies, and a great variety of meats and fish. Vegetarians got special treatment too. The ranch provided wines from the local wineries. Every night there was a nice fire on the deck for the guests to enjoy as the kids played in the fields. Musical instruments were available, and guests would play.

Riding was good (not great). Two rides a day, but you need to sign up each day since there is limited space. The rides were tailored to the group. The scenery was very nice. I really enjoyed the morning rides. They start at 11am (it would be nice if they were earlier).

My daughter (9yo) made friends at the ranch, and had a blast.

We will be back.

Recommendations
- bring bikes if you like to bike
- bring riding boots and gloves
- spend more than 2 days
- plan to visit the wineries since they are real close

  • Stayed July 2009, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Chicago, Illinois
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 15, 2009

Megan and I made sure that the Highland Ranch was one of the first places out of our home state of Illinois that our son, Casey, would visit. It's like being with family. We love the ranch and love the people that work there. If you're visiting Philo, I'm not sure why you'd stay anywhere else.

  • Stayed June 2009, traveled on business
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Valley Center, California
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 18, 2009

This place is a dream! It is even prettier than the pictures on the website. The surrounding forests and trails are beautiful and well maintained. The horses are very well mannered. The cabins are warm and cozy. Best of all, the food is great and it is healthy! If you are looking to get away and relax, this is the place to go.
Our group was treated just like family by all of the staff. The organized trails rides through the forest were well guided and suited our group perfectly. We took an afternoon away from the ranch and went wine tasting at some of the many wineries in the area (within a few miles). Lots of fun. Can't wait to go back!

  • Stayed March 2009, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Oakland, CA
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 13, 2009

I have been coming to Highland Ranch every year for five years typically with one or all of my kids. Isolated in the hills and redwood forests of rural Mendocino County, all you hear is the wind blowing through the trees and you see the stars at night. This is one of the most beautiful settings you can imagine. It is where I bring the family for down time and to unwind.

The Gaines family has run the place for many years and are wonderful, down to earth hosts. Rob is a fabulous cook and is now co-manager. The food is plentiful and delicious, and Rob always accommodates my dietary peculiarities.

My family's favorite activities are horseback riding and hiking on the forest trails, fishing in the ponds, swimming in the pool or ponds, reading in one of the hammocks, playing board games in the main house and some tennis. The boys are particularly excited to come shoot clay pigeons. A variety of cats and dogs roam the property and we usually bring our golden retrievers along.

Highland Ranch is a rustic, family-style place. Beautiful but not elegant. The cabins are old, creaky and drafty. The main house is warm and cozy and a great place to hang out. If you are looking for fancy rooms and elegant dining this is not the place.

  • Stayed March 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Blackbird Farm

Address: 18601 Van Zandt Resort Rd, PO Box 150, Philo, CA 95466 (Formerly Highland Ranch)
Location: United States > California > Mendocino County > Philo
Amenities:
Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 4 Specialty Lodging in Philo
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 12
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Situated on a 250 acre estate in the Anderson Valley Wine region. Blackbird Farm is a peaceful guest ranch and farm. Located an easy 2 hours north of San Francisco. With eight clean and comfortable guest cabins surrounding the charming 100 year old Main House where delicious, fresh and wholesome meals are served. Open for vacations, weddings, reunions, retreats and dogs welcome. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Highland Ranch Hotel Philo

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