If you're longing for that ultimate feeling of freedom—you know, the way your hair whips in the wind as you gallop across the sand, sea salt spraying at your heels, make plans for the ultimate Californian experience.
As of July 2020, all of the following Northern California outfitters are open for guided trail rides. 7x7 has confirmed that each is limiting group sizes and put has put social distancing measures and extra sanitation in place. Please check with your outfitter of choice for details, and don't forget your mask!
Here are four places to ride horses on the beach in NorCal.
Five Brooks Ranch
Bolinas residents may not want you to find their coastal community, going so far as to take down directional signs, but next door neighbor Olema rolls out the welcome mat for day-tripping visitors. Only 30 miles from San Francisco, Point Reyes National Seashore offers 120 miles of trails for bikers and hikers, and the scenic area may also be explored by horseback. Five Brooks Ranch offers a unique way to tour Wildcat Beach and Alamere Falls. // 8001 Highway 1 ( Olema), fivebrooks.com
Pebble Beach Equestrian Center
When you think of Pebble Beach, you think of…horses? Golf yes, polo ponies maybe, horseback rides, not so much. During your 75-minute trail ride through Del Monte Forest and crossing scenic 17-Mile Drive, you will pass by the requisite golf course and have a chance to stop for the ultimate selfie with the ocean across the street. You can't actually ride on the beach; after all, this is Pebble Beach. Group rides and private rides are offered. // 3300 Portola Rd (Pebble Beach), pebblebeach.com/equestrian-center
Ricochet Ridge Ranch
Located a short but scenic drive north from the rugged bluffs of Mendocino, Ricochet Ridge Ranch in Fort Bragg has got plenty to brag about—offering both beach and forest riding on the same day. Guests may opt for a trek through a redwood forest or along Ten Mile Beach ride (that's the name of the beach, not the length of the ride). Several one-hour beach rides are offered throughout the day under both English and western saddle. For the "can't get enough time in the saddle" riders, Ricochet Ridge Ranch offers multi-day riding vacations on the Mendocino coast. // 24201 North Highway 1 (Fort Bragg), horse-vacation.com
Sea Horse Ranch
Half Moon Bay, off California's Pacific Coast Highway, might be known for gnarly waves and home to Pillar Point and Mavericks surf spot, but you'll find sea horses there, too. No, these aren't the type of sea horses that swim in the ocean. Instead, they take riders down by the seashore. Driving south on Highway 1 you'll find them resting under the shade of eucalyptus trees, sand under their hooves. These bomb-proof horses (meaning they won't spook at flying kites or barking dogs running on the beach) are available seven days a week for rides on Poplar Beach. Rides range from one-hour beach/ocean view to two-hour trail and beach rides. // 1828 Cabrillo Hwy N. (Half Moon Bay), seahorseranch.org
PS: Did you know you can also go horseback riding in SF's Golden Gate Park? Book a guided trail ride or lessons through Chapparal Ranch, chaparralcorporation.com.