Put some boots on and saddle up for a horse ride like no other. San Diego is a renowned horse destination and that means there are plenty of horse enthusiasts nearby to give you a gentler experience. Whether you’re looking for a little gallop on the trails, a leisurely trot on the beach at sunset, or a relaxing pony ride for littles, you’ll find plenty of options. If you’re not ready to mount up, you can choose to ride behind, in a horse-drawn carriage that’s perfect for any age or ability. Read on to see where you can let the kids “horse around”.

Surfside Ranch

JenniferB via Yelp

Splash in the ocean with your horse on a sunset beach ride. Surfside Ranch will bring the horses to you on the only beach in San Diego that allows horseback riding! Enjoy the cool ocean breeze, look for dolphins in the surf and take in one of the most unique experiences that San Diego has to offer. (Age 8+)

Surfside Ranch
2225 Hollister St., Imperial Beach
Online: surfsideranch.com

Pony Land

ChicoM via Yelp

Little buckaroos will love riding these gentle ponies as they’re hand-led by adults. It’s perfect for timid kids because they take a lot of care for cautious first-time riders and those under 8 who aren’t old enough for horse rides. There’s even a petting zoo where kids can feed and pet the farm animals for Ages: 1-8.  

Pony Land
2606 Hollister St., Imperial Beach
Online: ponylandsandiego.com

Rawhide Ranch

Rawhide Ranch via Yelp

Learn how to ride like the best of them at Rawhide Ranch. Families will become ranch hands for the day and get a taste of what life was like in the Wild West, all while building character development of integrity, respect and personal growth. They offer summer sleepaway camps, weekend camps, weekday camps, Fall family camps, Winter camps, Ranch Days, along with vaulting camps (gymnastics on horseback!) are available. They were even voted top 22 camps in the USA.

Rawhide Ranch
6987 West Lilac Rd., Bonsall
Online: rawhideranch.com

Adventures On Horseback Ranch

JessicaS via Yelp

Choose from a scenic trail ride along the Sutherland Dam, ride through the vineyards, take on a challenging obstacle course for seasoned riders or take a short ride around their ranch. But if you don’t even want to get on a horse and still want to experience one, you can pair up with a horse to brush, feed, pet and just talk to as you get more comfortable around them. The best part is they cater to one group or family at a time, so it’s a private experience. Stop by their petting zoo or book a Wild West birthday party. (Ages 12 & up for trail rides, Ages 12 & under for hand-led or free-range arena rides)

Adventures On Horseback Ranch
21123 Sutherland Dam Rd., Ramona
Online: aohranch.com

The Ranch at Bandy Canyon

The Ranch at Bandy Canyon via Yelp

After your guided trail ride around a beautifully landscaped setting, relax at the pool or patio fire pits at The Ranch at Bandy Canyon. You can even stay for the night in one of their rustic cabins, go for a hike, take a horse-drawn carriage ride, stop by the petting zoo or the barn to pet the horses. Family cabins come with bunk beds and kitchenettes to make for a fun horse-filled family staycation.

The Ranch at Bandy Canyon
16251 Bandy Canyon Rd., Escondido
Online: bandycanyon.com

Bibby Ranch

StephanieL via Yelp

Saddle up and relax while the horses (and guides) take you on a trail riding adventure around Lake Hodges. You’ll leave all your cares behind as you immerse yourself in nature and enjoy the lake views while on the back of a gentle horse. If you want to learn more, sign up for horse camp, group or private riding lessons.

Bibby Ranch
Online: bibbyranch.com

Temecula Carriage Company

Bonnie Taylor @famdiego

Hop into a covered horse-drawn carriage while you sip local wine (littles will sip grape juice) and cruise over the hills and through vineyards in Temecula. The sweet owners have a child and also offer seasonal experiences like visiting the Easter Bunny or Santa inside their decorated barn “workshop”. This is truly an unforgettable experience that’s perfect for a special day or to make any day special.

Temecula Carriage Company
Online: temeculacarriageco.com

—Bonnie Taylor


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