If an outdoorsy vacation in a horsey environment is on your vacation wish list, you'll find plenty of choices within driving distance of Sacramento. All welcome families, and most include meals in the rates. A California guest ranch sampling:
* Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort, 35 miles northwest of Santa Barbara, is a working cattle ranch and all-around resort offering trail rides, fly fishing, gourmet meals, swimming pool, tennis and two 18-hole golf courses. Accommodations are in 73 guest cottages, and there are many activities for kids. For more information: (800) 425-4725 or www.alisal.com.
* Chanslor Guest Ranch near Bodega Bay is a working ranch offering horseback rides on oceanfront trails and lots of wildlife viewing. Bed-and-breakfast accommodations are in three guest rooms and a bunk room. For more information: (707) 875-9462 or www.chanslorranch.com.
* Circle Bar B Guest Ranch, 20 miles north of Santa Barbara, features cabin or ranch room accommodations, daily trail rides, hiking, swimming and hot tubbing. Dinner theater in the Old Barn is presented weekends April-November. For more information: (805) 968-1113 or www.circlebarb.com.
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* Coffee Creek Guest Ranch, in the Trinity Alps about 75 miles northwest of Redding, offers horseback riding, pack trips, bonfires, line dancing, trap shooting, gold panning and fishing. Guests with disabilities are accommodated with wheelchair-accessible rooms and riding lessons. Accommodations are in 14 cabins, most with wood-burning stoves. For more information: (530) 266-3343 or www.coffeecreekranch.com.
* Greenhorn Creek Ranch, in the Feather River country near Quincy (Sierra County), offers horseback riding, fishing, boating, gold prospecting, rope spinning, mini-rodeos, evening dances and campfire sing-alongs. Accommodations are in cabins or a lodge. For more information: (800) 334-6939 or www.greenhornranch.com.
* Highland Ranch, 122 miles north of San Francisco in Philo, a community of the Anderson Valley, has tennis, swimming pool, a bass lake, hiking and biking trails and horses for guided rides. Accommodations are in cabins. The 100-year-old farmhouse features a stone fireplace and spacious dining and living room. For more information: (707) 895-3600 or www.highlandranch.com.
* Hunewill Circle II Guest Ranch, just east of Yosemite National Park in Bridgeport, dates to 1861. Riding is the main activity, but trout fishing, hayrides, hiking and swimming also are available. Accommodations are in cottages or rooms in the ranch house. For more information: (760) 932-7710 or www.hunewillranch.com.
* JH Guest Ranch, 35 miles southwest of Yreka, features weeklong Christian programs designed for families and singles. Activities include whitewater rafting, horseback riding, swimming, fishing volleyball, tennis, rifle shooting and hiking. Accommodations are in cabins. Challenge courses and parent-child programs also are available. For more information: (800) 242-1224 or www.JHRanch.org.
* Rankin Ranch was founded in 1863 about 42 miles northeast of Bakersfield in the Tehachapi Mountains. Activities include trail rides, children's program, tennis, fishing and swimming. Accommodations are in six two-room cabins. For more information: (661) 867-2511 or www.rankinranch.com.
* Slide Mountain Ranch, nine miles from Sonora in Tuolumne County, is all about horses. Activities include trail rides, cattle-gathering rides and an indoor riding arena where guests can learn basic equestrian skills. Private horses are welcome. Lodging is in four private rooms in the guest house. For more information: (209) 926-4287 or www.slidemountain.com.
* Spanish Springs Ranch, a 70,000-acre working cattle ranch in the high desert country of Lassen County, emphasizes horseback riding and trout fishing. There's also swimming, tennis, shuffleboard, volleyball, archery, trap shooting and opportunities to participate in roundups and cattle drives. Accommodations are in cabins, suites, duplexes and teepees. For more information: (530) 234-2150 or www.spanishsprings.com.
* Wonder Valley Ranch Resort, 40 miles east of Fresno has a full program of supervised children's activities with horseback riding, trampolines, challenge courses, hayrides, fishing, sailing, swimming, canoeing and trips into nearby Kings Canyon National Park. For more information: (800) 821-2801 or www.wondervalley.com.