When it comes to horseback riding, romantic visions of cowboys tend to trot through many people’s heads. But, truth be told, all the dirt that comes along with life on the range isn’t for everyone. The good news is that there are plenty of locales where you can trade in dusty trails for ones with coastline views. Here’s where to giddy up to some of the most scenic spots in North America on horseback.
Horse Around on the Forgotten Coast
Saddle up on the Florida Panhandle with broke-a-toe horseback riding. No experience is necessary for this gentle ride along the light shore break of Cape San Blas in Gulf County. Summer rides are held early in the morning and late in the evening, to beat the heat. During the rest of the year, beach buckaroos can take advantage of couple, moonlit, and trail rides.
$50 per horse per hour or $70 for one-and-a-half hour. Reservations required.
Horseback in Hawaii
The Travaasa Hana coastal horseback ride is the only coastal horseback ride offered on Maui. The easy one-hour ride, great for beginners and young riders, takes travelers through pasture land and along the striking coastline. Bring a camera and feel free to ask questions, since the guides love to share stories and pass along vacation recommendations.
$75, ages 9 and up only; 24-hour advance reservations recommended. Travaasa Hana rates start from $400, based on double occupancy.
Happy Trails in Half Moon Bay
Sea Horse Ranch — located on the Pacific Coast Highway (aka Highway 1) in Half Moon Bay just a half-hour from San Francisco — runs guided beach and trail rides along the Northern California coast. This is a great option for morning people, thanks to the Early Bird special for the two-hour 8 a.m. ride at a discounted $70. Other times, fees range between $70 and $90, depending on the terrain and length of the ride. Long pants and closed-toe shoes are recommended, as are helmets (required for those under 18).
Reservations required. Minimum age is 7.
Canter in Canada
Canadian wilderness combined with sweeping views of the Ottawa River will make you want to spend the entire day horseback riding. In Quebec, Les Ecuries Montebello Stables is located on the rugged but grand grounds of the Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello, and you don’t need to be a guest at the hotel to participate. Relaxed rides last two hours, with plenty of time allocated to don the required helmets (provided) and to get to know your horse in the training ring before the guided trail adventure begins. The stables are open daily in the summer and weekends the rest of the year.
$90 CAD (approximately $70 USD); reservations required. Minimum age is 6.
Oceano on Horseback
Located in San Luis Obispo, about halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, Oceano often lives in the shadow of its well-known neighbor Pismo Beach. And while the beach typically attracts insider ATV enthusiasts, as the only place in California where you can drive on the sand, there are plenty of nooks and crannies to quietly explore on horseback. Here, try Pacific Dunes Ranch‘s one-hour trail rides through the dunes and beach. They’re open Fridays through Tuesdays and they provide free-to-rent helmets. Remember to wear layers, as the weather can change quickly.
$50 per person; reservations required. Minimum age is 7.