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Peter Greenberg is currently travel editor at CBS TV.


By Margot Black

I’ve always been curious about what it would be like to ride on a giant sand buggy so we rented an ATV from Sun Buggy Rentals (at Pismo Beach, in San Luis Obispo County), which is one of the few state parks that allows off-roading. We paid $352 for a four-seater Dune Buggy, which includes the third hour free, but prices start much lower (at $47 for two hours), for a one-seater Yamaha.

I didn’t know what to expect, but mostly I was terrified, while my husband and son had the time of their lives! Even though we had a professional talk us through the mechanics and strict guidelines, I discovered that flying over a sand dune with no idea what to expect on the other side was not my idea of fun. Call me old fashioned!

That being said, the Oceano sand dune area in San Luis Obispo County is recognized as the finest most extensive coastal dunes remaining in California. It really is beautiful, and an impressive playground for off-road enthusiasts. It was a super special fun family day, but as a mother, I was very happy to return them.


  • Seriously – be damn careful! You might think it’s cute to send your 10-year-old off on his own but remember, he is an untrained driver when he meets another ATV.
  • Again, safety first. It’s recommended that all ATV operators take part in a formal safety training course under supervision of a certified ATV instructor. This is mandatory for those under 18.
  • Proper riding equipment is essential – all drivers must wear a helmet and wear proper protective clothing.
  • Before setting off, familiarize yourself with the terrain to avoid surprises. Drive within the limits of your ability – don’t go faster or higher than you think you can safely handle.

We rented our four-seater ATV from for $352 for two hours, with the option of a free third hour. Prices start at $47 for two hours, for a one-seater Yamaha, and an 8-seater costs $571 for two hours.

Rent or own? Rent. ATV’s cost anywhere from $500 to $4000 depending on your desires. Gas is relatively inexpensive and upkeep is also inexpensive, but for us the biggest problem would be storage and towing. We don’t have the space in our tiny home, and we’d need to buy some sort of a toy hauler.