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 California experience.
Here are three places to ride horses on the beach in Northern California.
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 across 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 (unfortunately you can't actually ride on the sand; 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 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 (that's the name of the beach, not the length of the ride). Several one-hour beach rides are offered throughout the day on both English and western saddles. For the "can't get enough time in the saddle" riders, Ricochet Ridge Ranch offers a full day adventure 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 best known for the gnarly waves at Pillar Point and Mavericks, 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 60- to 90-minute rides on Poplar Beach. // 1828 Cabrillo Hwy N. (Half Moon Bay), seahorseranch.org