The Top 10 Dog Friendly Beaches in San Diego
If you’re dreaming of a place where it’s always sunny and dog-friendly, San Diego is the paradise you’re imagining. With more than 35-million visitors that have turned this dream into a reality every year, it’s time to pack up your pet’s beach toys, lather up with the sunscreen, and get ready to see why San Diego is a must-visit beach destination for dog-lovers.
San Diego is a Southern California gem that is pleasing to the eye as you drive through the lively Gaslamp Quarter, see stunning Spanish Revival architecture, and a stunning coastline stretching 70 miles. You’ll encounter lots of wildlife at the famous San Diego Zoo or discover marine life on dolphin and whale watching tours. However, when you’re finished sightseeing, spend some quality time on the dog-friendly beaches to see why many call San Diego one of the most pet-friendly cities in California.
And remember, whenever your dog is participating in a water activity, be sure to keep them safe with a dog life jacket or other flotation device.
The Original Dog Beach
San Diego set the trend for off-leash dog beaches in the United States when it established the Original Dog Beach in 1972. Consider it a bucket list beach destination for dogs, and they’ll surely be the envy of their pet friends when barking about their experience.
Tucked between rock bluffs, the Original Dog Beach is a slice of dog heaven sitting on the north side of Ocean Beach. Dogs don’t have to be on a leash but make sure they can control their excitement from running wild when seeing so many of their kind enjoying the beach as it was intended for. You’ll find small dogs and large dogs splashing around together in the rich, shallow blue waters of the Pacific Ocean. Even well-groomed pups ready to add a bit of sand to their fur coats.
As a pioneer of the leash-free concept, it’s always open for dogs and their humans around the clock. It’s an excellent place to enjoy the ‘always sunny’ weather in San Diego and the golden sunsets with your pet by your side. And if you can manage to beckon them away when it’s time to leave, there’s even a dog wash nearby to clean them up before stepping their sandy paws into your car.
Address: 5156W W Point Loma Blvd, San Diego, CA
Coronado Dog Run Beach
Ready, set, dash! Dog Run Beach gives your pup the freedom they’ve been waiting for as you unclip their leashes to run towards the Pacific Ocean at top speeds. Coronado is known for requiring dogs in public to be on a leash, so you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find this off-leash beach in the area—and it’s open all year long!
This family-friendly area is perfect for a day out with the kids and your pet(s). While the kids have their time to play around at Sunset Park, cross the street toward the shore when finished to give your four-legged family members a chance to have some beach fun.
Ocean Boulevard is lined with the top beaches in Coronado, but many would argue that pets got the upper paw with the western end of the coastline. While attempting to keep an eye out on your dog as they pounce between the warm, tan sands and the cool ocean waters, views of Coronado’s North Island US Naval Station adjacent to the beach also vie for your attention.
Address: Ocean Blvd, Coronado, CA
If you’re staying in one of the many pet-friendly accommodations near Mission Beach, you’ll be just a few paw steps away from enjoying one of the favorite pet-friendly beaches in San Diego. As one of the city’s premier beaches found on the Golden Strand, pet owners must adhere to the official San Diego guidelines for having their dogs on the beach to make the most of their time here.
San Diego set city-wide regulations prohibiting dogs on the beach between 9 AM and after 4 PM during the off-season, November 1st to March 31st, or peak season between 9 AM and 6 PM from April 1st to October 31st. So, contain your tail-wagging excitement until before and after these hours, and you’ll soon find everyone bringing their dogs out for some fresh ocean-scented air at the beach.
Keep your dog on its leash as you walk the mile-long Mission Beach in search of the perfect plot of sand to play for the day. The calm waters are perfectly fine for letting play in and dry off with a stroll on the Ocean Front Walk.
Address: W Mission Bay Dr, San Diego, CA
South Imperial Beach
Imperial Beach is a photographer’s paradise, but if you go to the correct spot on the beach, your pet can be your handsome model for the photoshoot. While many people are busy snapping photos of the iconic Imperial Beach Pier, head towards the south side of Imperial Beach Boulevard for the pet-friendly section of the beach.
South Imperial Beach is the only area where your pet can enjoy the coast without worrying about citations. As long as they stay on a leash, the beach is theirs to take over. Let them play in the water or strut their paws nearly on the US-Mexico border as you fill up your camera roll even more with shots of their good side against the gorgeous ocean backdrop.
The evening is one of the most popular times to visit South Imperial Beach. You’ll see pet owners setting up their blankets at golden hour to claim their territory while their pets are likely already ahead of them—just be sure to clean up after your pet! Luckily, you’ll make it just in time to catch one of the best sunsets in San Diego, which will have you and your pet barking in excitement at the views.
Address: Elder Ave. Imperial Beach, CA
La Jolla Shores Beach
La Jolla is San Diego’s hidden gem that not even dogs have to dig for to discover. There are enough beaches in La Jolla to count on both hands, but the La Jolla Shores Beach is where you’ll find all the pet owners visiting. With its beautiful scenery, excellent water conditions, and pet-friendly policies, how could you not enjoy a beach day here with your furry friend?
Before letting your dog sink its paws in the soft golden sands of the beach, keep an eye out on the clock to ensure that they’re within the allotted time to indulge in the doggy beach life. For pet owners traveling from April 1st to October 31st, pets can only be on the beach before 9 AM and after 6 PM. However, if you’re patient enough to wait until the off-season from November 1st to March 31st, the time extends to before 9 AM and after 4 PM.
The large beach area stretches a half-mile long and makes it a fun place for your dog to enjoy their pet toys. The air will be filled with floating frisbees and squishy balls as dogs jolt from all directions to retrieve them in a game of beach fetch.
Address: Camino Del Oro and Calle Frescota La Jolla, CA
Del Mar Dog Beach (North Beach)
Spend a moment admiring the colorful flora of the Dog Beach Memorial Garden that greets you before entering the North Beach area. This beach is all-inclusive. In fact, it’s become such a hot spot for pets that many people have started to call it the Del Mar Dog Beach.
Starting at 29th Street is dog territory, where you’ll see tons of dogs enjoying carefree on the beach until reaching Solana Beach. It’s ample space to find a plot of sand to sunbathe while your pet stays thoroughly entertained while meeting other pets, prancing around in the salty ocean waters, or barking at the surfers catching the waves off.
Summer is the peak season from June 16th to Labor Day at North Beach and requires your dog to stay on a leash due to the sheer number of pets and people you’ll find on these shores. However, in the off-season, give them a break from being tied up and let them enjoy the beach off their leash.
Address: 3902 29th St, Del Mar, CA
Cardiff State Beach
The rhythmic sounds of the waves rolling onto the sloped shores can easily lull you and your dog to sleep while sunbathing on Cardiff State Beach. And you don’t have to worry about being disturbed because nobody will look twice at you for having your dog on this gorgeous beach.
Nicknamed the ‘Riviera of the West,’ Cardiff State Beach is a protected section on San Diego’s North County coastline designated an official California State Park. But visitor rules are a bit laxed since it uniquely allows dogs at any time. So, the only rules for pet owners to have in mind are to keep their dogs on a maximum of a six-foot leash, clean up after them to preserve the beach’s unspoiled conditions, and have a good time!
The warm, golden sands at Cardiff State Beach run seamlessly into the ocean. Go for a walk along the water-marked line between wet and dry sand to alter sensations on their paws while letting them cool off from the Cali sun to the splashes of the wave breaks.
Address: Highway 101. Cardiff by the Sea, CA
The sun-baked shoreline at Pacific Beach is a popular stretch of coastline for San Diego’s beachgoers who prefer not to leave their dogs behind at home. With amazing views of Crystal Pier stretching out towards the horizon and pulsating waves splashing onto the shore, it’s an ideal beach setting to enjoy with your canine companion.
Pacific Beach extends for 3.2-miles long, however, dogs can only be in the area between Crystal Pier and Pacific Beach Drive. They also have to be on their leash, whether you’re playing in the beach sand, wetting their paws in the ocean, or strolling along the boardwalk.
Dogs aren’t permitted on the beach or the boardwalk from November 1st to March 31st from 9 AM to 4 PM. If you’re visiting during these dates, at best, you can go for an early morning walk or check out the beach during the evening when you’ll get an alluring view of the sunset. The beach is also nearby Capehart Dog Park while you wait for the beach to open for dog use!
Address: 4500 Mission Blvd, San Diego, CA
Fiesta Island Off-Leash Dog Park
Fiesta Island is a 470-acres landmass in Mission Bay, and nearly all of it is designated as a dog park! Your dog won’t believe that there’s an island just for them as they spend a beach day at San Diego’s largest dog park—USA Today voted it the top dog park.
Although an island, you can cross the bridge over Mission Bay to reach this undeveloped area that feels like an alternate universe where dogs can roam freely while exploring its natural beaches. Its shoreline circles the island for six miles, so you’ll have plenty of room for finding a place to call home base before going for a dip in the bay.
Leave your dog leash behind because it won’t be necessary on Fiesta Island. That way, you can relax while watching your dog play in the waters or sniff their way around the rolling dunes lining the beach. An asphalt walking path also follows the coastline around the island. One of the best sections of the beach is a crescent slope shoreline with views of the San Diego skyline silhouette in the distance.
Address: 1750 Fiesta Island Rd, CA
San Elijo State Beach
Wake up in your tent to views of the Pacific Ocean at the dog-friendly campgrounds near San Elijo State Beach before heading down the bluff to the coast with your furry friend. You’re guaranteed not to be the only person hanging out on the shores with their canine as it’s a popular place to go for dog walks and lounging like a beach bum to the scenic views.
Be aware that the campgrounds along the coast don’t allow dogs on their designated beach areas. Instead, you’ll need to go south of Lifeguard Tower 16. This coastal area permits pets, but you must keep them on a leash.
The fine sand at San Elijo State Beach will feel amazing against your pet’s paws and your feet as you go for a walk. However, don’t venture too far into the water to avoid hurting their paws on the coastal reefs. That won’t keep you from gazing out to sea to spot surfers on the iconic Swami’s Reef made famous by the Beach Boy’s song ‘Surfin’ USA.’
Address: 2050 S Coast Hwy 101, CA