Ever had a fantasy about riding horses on the beach? Here's your chance!
It's one of our lesser-known San Francisco activities! You can join the horses and cowboys at Mar Vista Stable, only five minutes from the SF Zoo.
Mar Vista Stable is now the only place you can rent horses in San Francisco, since the Golden Gate Park stables closed in 2001.
It's easy to drive to: right off Skyline Boulevard in Daly City, just south of Fort Funston.
The stable supplies the horses and a wrangler to take you on the ride.
Horses are matched with riders based on riding experience and helmets are provided, if desired (mandatory for those under 18).
Don't let the rugged appearance of the stables put you off. This is a real "cowboy" kind of place, odd to find so close to San Francisco. No lattes or arugula here! The wranglers are friendly and obviously very much at home with the horses.
No reservations are required unless you have a big group, but they are recommended. It's not a bad idea to call ahead to find out if any other riders are going out around that time.
Once we showed up at the same time as some other people and ended up going on the longer ride they had already scheduled.
Which ride should you take? If you haven't ridden in awhile, I suggest the one-hour ride. My legs were pretty stiff after that one!
The ride takes you along the bluff overlooking the ocean, then down into a pretty valley covered with ice plant.
The trail winds around in the little canyon, then comes out onto the sand, where you can ride the horses on the beach at the water's edge. Beautiful views and lots of fun!
The horseback-riding beach is the southern end of the Fort Funston beach. Fort Funston is a "dog beach" where dog can run off-leash, but most of the dogs don't come this far. From what I've seen, for the most part the dog-owners are a conscientious lot and don't allow their dogs to bother the horses.
Keep a lookout for dolphins playing in the water just past the breakers; bottlenose dolphins are often seen in the coastal waters near San Francisco. Quite a treat!
You may spot a seal out there and, if you're lucky, you might even see a whale; they migrate seasonally along the coast, and sometimes come close in to shore. Whether it's sunny or foggy, this is a gorgeous spot!
The trail down to the beach is a bit steep in places and the path runs along the cliff edge here and there, but these are sure-footed cowponies, so they have no trouble with it.
You can ride horses on the beach:
Tel: 650 991-4224.
Hourly Rates (cash only):
The stables are located at 2152 Skyline Boulevard, Daly City, CA, 94015. .
Tel: (650) 991-4224.
Coming from Highway 280, take John Daly Blvd. to where it dead-ends at Skyline Blvd. and go right (north) a short distance on Skyline to Olympic Way. Turn off onto Olympic Way. It looks like nothing's there; just keep going and you'll see the stables.
From the City, take Sloat Boulevard all the way to the end at Ocean Beach, by the SF Zoo, turn left on the Great Highway, which turns into Skyline Boulevard. Just a few minutes south of the San Francisco County line you'll see Olympic Way. Turn off there and keep going a short distance till you see Mar Vista Stable.
In addition to riding horses on the beach, Mar Vista Stable has:
There is also a little pony ring for very small children, ages 3 to 7: 10 minutes for $10.
There have been horses on the beach at this location since the 1800s. The beach was patrolled on horseback during the Civil War and World War I, and the stables were in the same area. One of the wranglers said he used to ride here as a boy and the Daly City high schools had rodeo teams as recently as the 60's.
Don't be alarmed by the ramshackle entrance. It really is a cool place to ride horses!
Enjoy your trip!