Long Beach, Washington is the perfect place to bring all your equestrian dreams to life. Just north of the famed Oregon Coast, this quiet community is a much less traveled and more off-the-beaten-path destination for beachgoers of any season.
While much of your beach vacation I’m sure you plan to cozy up in your vacation rental home, relax on the beach, or take a day trip down to Astoria, there is one more thing you won’t want to miss out on while here.
One of the best things to do in the area is a scenic horseback ride along the grassy dune-covered beach.
For those of us who have been coming to Long Beach, Washington since infancy, one of my fondest memories as a child was horseback riding along the vast uninterrupted stretch of sand. A perfect combination of romanticism, adventure, and fun—it’s impossible to find a better way to enjoy the beach.
Long Beach is hailed as the ‘World’s Longest Beach.’ And while that may or may not be technically true, at over 28 miles of coastline it is the longest stretch of sand in the contiguous United States at least.
Famous for its seafood harvests and kite flying, very few people know that horseback riding is one of the most rewarding activities to spend an afternoon or evening on.
Here’s a quick guide with everything you need to know to plan your ride from Seaview to the state park.
Where to Book Your Horseback Riding Tour
Both companies found on Sid Snyder Drive, located practically next door to one another, have superb reputations and glowing reviews on Tripadvisor.
The Long Beach Horse Rides and West Coast Horse Rides offer guided tours up and down the beach. These are the best places to arrange your horse rentals and guide.
The Long Beach Horse Rides are open daily from 10 AM – 4 PM and West Coast Horse Rides are open from 9 AM – 5 PM.
Hours at both shops can vary depending on holidays and unpredictable Washington weather so be sure to check online or give them a call before you show up in person.
Both companies are also seasonal. When the weather turns and the low season on Long Beach arrives, all the horseback riding companies close up shop because a ride on a cold rainy beach in the dead of winter is seldom appealing to tourists. The specific dates of closure depend on the weather of that specific year.
The best time to plan your visit is obviously summer, although late spring and early fall can also offer great weather windows and good riding conditions.
What Are My Tour Options?
Tours and guided rides are pretty standardized because visitors are most fond of a ride along the water. The most popular is a one-hour ride up and down the beach. This usually costs $30 per horse. A hard deal to beat.
If you’re hoping for a sunset ride along the sand, you can arrange ahead of time for the last ride of the day.
Riders who are more experienced in the saddle and hoping to do a longer tour can take a 2-hour morning jaunt for around $60 a horse. Parents with children under the age of 6 can ride double, but kids older than that are required to ride on their own.
If you have your own horse you can stable it at the red barn arena and plan your own rides on the Long Beach Peninsula.
Do I Need to Make Reservations?
Reservations are not necessary ahead of time, but they are preferred. Rides are offered hourly from 9-5 and groups can vary greatly in size. If you want to book a private tour or have any specific needs/questions to address it’s best to call the company you wish to work with directly.
Do you need Prior Horseback Riding Experience?
Have no horseback riding experience? No problem! Both companies cater to people of all ages and experience levels.
They have a deep knowledge of their horses and trails, pairing the perfect horse with each rider. All the equines are well-trained, and brief pre-ride lessons are given to those who have yet to learn the basics of riding.
Helmets are available and recommended for all riders. Especially those with very little or no riding experience. Both companies also offer pony rides in the corral for $5 a ride, perfect for quick photo ops and fun for small children not yet ready for their own long seaside ride.
What to Expect on Your Horseback Ride
Tours leave from the corral every hour. Once everyone is paired with their horse, given safety instructions and riding basics, a guide takes everyone out single-file for the beach approach. You’ll gallop past the boardwalk through a narrow trail of dune grass and coastal pines that leads out onto the fine sands of the Pacific Ocean.
Once out on the beach, you may spread out along the sand but must still stay with the group. If you do venture away it’s important to be aware of the clam beds along the tide line and potentially the ground nests of local birds.
The ride is quite scenic with a seemingly endless expanse of sand in front of you. You can let the gentle rocking of the horses lull you into a relaxed state.
Keep in mind that the horses, although well-trained and very accustomed to these rides, are wild-ish animals. They can still get spooked by large waves and the water. Their behavior is not always predictable. Sometimes along the narrow trails, horses can nip at each other so it’s best to always be alert and try to maintain control of your horse.
If issues arise, your guide will step in and will always do their best to calm your horse or swap them out with a horse in a better mood if necessary.
A Few Things to Keep in Mind Before Your Ride
Before you hop in the saddle, here are a few things you should keep in mind.
The Weather Can Change Quickly
Depending on the time of year, remember that this area of the state can get a lot of rain, wind, and cold temperatures. So check the hourly forecasts and dress appropriately to prepare for shifts in weather. On sunny days keep in mind that there is no shade along the beach so hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen are a must!
Use the Restroom Before Mounting Your Horse
Rocking back and forth for an hour in a saddle will most likely make you need to pee. And while horses can relieve themselves on the beach, you cannot!
Always Follow Your Guide’s Instructions
More experienced riders will likely need little help but it’s important to stick with the group anyways. The guides are highly trained and know the individual horses well. Always follow any and all instructions given to you by the tour leader to avoid injury to yourself and others.
End Your Ride on a High Note
All that riding can sure work up an appetite. Be sure to grab a bite to eat, or a craft cocktail to ease those sore muscles at Pickled Fish located at the top of Adrift Hotel. Amazing food, local beers, and beautiful views of the beach are a great way to end the day after a long ride.
If Pickled Fish isn’t calling your name, there are plenty more great restaurants in Long Beach to satiate your hunger!
Featured Image Credit: Dmitri Kotchetov