Date 12–Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch

Our 12th date took place in early December.  I had labeled some of the dates in our jar as certain months or seasons only, and this one was labeled “December Only”, so I had Eddie open it the first weekend in December.  It instructed us to check out a local place called Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch.  It’s located about 20 minutes north of Champaign-Urbana and was relatively easy to get to.  Prior to going to the ranch though, we went to the local Christmas parade to get into the holiday spirit.  It was the perfect day for a parade & holiday-themed date.  There was light snow & it was right at freezing temperatures.  Cold, yes, but how perfect is a snowy day when you’re spending it with a Christmas parade and reindeer?!

Eddie and I at the Monticello Christmas Parade. A light snow made for perfect parade weather!

After the parade, we headed to the ranch.  Neither of us had been & didn’t know exactly what to expect.  When we arrived we noticed a large red building, some play equipment, a large enclosed area with reindeer, a small country store, and lots of Christmas trees! 

Our first stop was the store.  We looked around & warmed our hands by the old iron fireplace/stove.  We asked an employee to fill us in on what we could do/experience and she explained that they offered “Reindeer Tours” where you could get up close & personal with the reindeer & feed them graham crackers & oats for only $3/person.  The next tour was starting in just a few minutes, so we got our tickets & got in line!

Some reindeer had bigger racks than others... this guy (or gal?) is lopsided!

This guy definately enjoyed the free snacks! He had a really large rack, too... there's more to it than you can even see in this picture!

I didn't realize that animals with antlers "shed" them each year! This is only half a rack from an older reindeer in years past. These things were HEAVY!

This is my favorite picture from the day! If you wanted, you could get a "kiss" from the reindeer by putting a graham cracker in your mouth, then they would take it from you. I was not brave enough, but Eddie was! What a great picture!

Since we weren’t there for a Christmas tree, our only other stop was the cafe to warm up & get a bite to eat.  We entered the big red building & were greeted by a nice, warm atmosphere.  There were a few items available for purchase to eat, like hot dogs, chili, cookies, hot chocolate, and the most amazing creation I’ve ever had–a pulled pork parfait.

This thing was amazing! It was a "parfait" made with mashed potatoes, pulled pork, and bbq sauce. It was amazingly filling & delicious! They even topped it with a cherry tomato to look like an actual parfait/sundae... but I got a little too eager to try it before I snapped a picture!

We spent less than $10 on food & drinks for both of us, and after warming up, we were back on the road again.  It wasn’t a long date, but it was probably my favorite one so far.  It was so unique, and while we had to travel about an hour to get there, it was worth it (and very economical–at less than $20 total!)!

A fun day at the Reindeer Ranch! This may have to be a holiday tradition for us!


Cheap Date Tip: Don’t be afraid to travel a little bit extra once in awhile for a special date… this little gem was about an hour from our home, but so fun & so worth the extra miles!


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