Horseback riding on the beach is one of the most romanticized places to gallop across. While not all beaches permit horses on their shores, we’ve rounded up the California beaches where you can ride horseback along the sandy coast.
There are many options including bringing your own horse to a staging area, renting a horse, or taking a guided tour along the sandy beach. Whether you’re a first-time rider or a seasoned equestrian it’s possible to check this bucket list ride off your list.
California Beaches that Allow Horseback Riding
Unfortunately, there are no Orange County cities or state beaches that allow horseback riding on the beach. Crystal Cove State Park is the closest you’ll get without actually riding on the sandy beaches.
From Orange County, San Diego and Santa Barbara are the nearest destinations for a beach horseback ride.
Southern California Beaches with Horseback Riding
Border Field State Park/Imperial Beach (San Diego County)
Imperial Beach, CA 91932
Border Field State Park is within the city limits of Imperial Beach, 15 miles south of San Diego. There are four (4) staging areas, including two (2) beach staging areas where you can park your rig, saddle up your horse, and ride.
Ponyland offers guided sunset and seashore beach rides.
Summerland Beach (Santa Barbara County)
Summerland, CA 93067
Summerland Beach is the only beach in Santa Barbara where people can go horseback riding as you ride along the edge of the pacific ocean
Northern California Beaches with Horseback Riding
- MacKerricher State Park – Ricochet Ridge Ranch offers guided horseback tours.
- Manchester Beach – The owners of Ross Ranch have special access to Manchester Beach for a horseback riding vacation.
- Mendocino Headlands State Park – Miles of trails wind along the cliffs with views of sea arches and hidden grottos.
- Russian Gulch State Park – Over a mile of secluded beaches and tide pools. The park also has amazing forest scenery and even a 36-foot waterfall. There are four (4) equestrian campsites with corrals, and one group site.
- Ten Mile Beach – This beach is fondly referred to as ten (10) mile beach and it is also home to one of the less developed estuaries and one of the longest dune systems.
There are a number of ranches in the Mendocino area that provide guided rides on the beach.
- Point Reyes National Seashore – Horses are permitted on most established trails and beaches at Point Reyes National Seashore. Camping with Horses is permitted in designated areas.
- Moss Landing State Beach – The beach provides scenic panoramic views of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
- Salinas River State Beach – The beach and dunes at Salinas River State Beach are part of Monterey Bay’s unique coastal dune system.
- Zmudowski State Beach – The beach features the Pajaro River estuary, where a natural preserve has been set aside, and provides for scenic panoramic views of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
Horses are permitted to access the beaches only by the designated routes and to ride only on the wet sand, below the high tide line to protect wildlife and vegetation
San Luis Obispo County
- Montana de Oro State Beach – There’s a great horse camp here with equestrian trails and beach access.
- Morro Strand State Beach – This beach offers a sandy stretch of shoreline to ride with Morro Rock as your backdrop.
- Oceano Dunes State Beach – Long, wide stretches of shoreline here for a day of horseback riding on the beach.
- Pismo State Beach – While Pismo is popular for OHV’s there is plenty of space here for horses too, with equestrian trails and beach access.
Horseback riding tours are offered by several companies.
San Mateo County
- Montara State Beach/McNee Ranch
- Salt Point State Park – There are over 20 miles of hiking and equestrian trails to explore in Salt Point State Park.
There are many ways to ride horses in California. More than 70 different state parks offer several hundred miles of trails that are open to horses. Overnight horse camping facilities are available at seventeen state parks across the state at locations ranging from windswept beaches and shady redwoods to the colorful desert.
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Monique McArthur is a mother of two, writer, and creator of delicious recipes. In her spare time she enjoys exploring all that Orange County has to offer, traveling, shopping, running with her dogs and spending time with family.