Coastal California’s Best Dog Beaches and Pet-Friendly Places

A golden lab with a stick in her mouth runs back to shore as a low wave crashes around her.
A Labrador fetches a stick at Carmel Beach. Photo © Renae Frankz/123rf.

Dog owners will have a lot more fun on the California coast with their furry friends along for the ride. Luckily, there are lots of options for people who want to bring their pets.

Pet-Friendly Accommodations

Kimpton Hotels, a luxury boutique hotel chain with 15 properties along the California coast, goes out of its way to welcome pets. It offers pet beds, food bowls, water bowls, and information about all the pet-friendly attractions and businesses in the area. Some of Kimpton’s properties include San Diego’s Hotel Palomar, Santa Barbara’s Canary Hotel and San Francisco’s The Argonaut and Hotel Triton.

In Del Mar, north of San Diego, Les Artistes has some pet-friendly rooms. Up the coast, the Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach has a whole floor of them.

In San Francisco’s Pacific Heights neighborhood, the Laurel Inn’s rooms are all pet friendly, with a two-pet limit. Wine Country is surprisingly pro-pet with Napa’s Napa Inn, Saint Helena’s El Bonita Motel, and Guerneville’s Sonoma Orchid Inn all catering to canines.

On the North Coast, Fort Bragg’s Beachcomber Motel offers pet-friendly hot tub suites. In nearby Anderson Valley, both the Anderson Valley Inn and the Boonville Hotel reserve a couple of rooms for families with dogs.

Best Dog Beaches in California

A few California beaches permit and even encourage dog visitation. One of the best is Carmel Beach located in Carmel-by-the-Sea. On any given day, more dogs roam this beach than people — and they can roam leash-free.

The north end of San Diego’s Ocean Beach calls itself “The Original Dog Beach.” It’s also leash-free. Del Mar City Beach has a dog section that extends from 29th Street to Solano Beach. Known as “Surf City USA,” Orange County’s Huntington Beach might as well be called “Dog City USA.” The north end between Seapoint Avenue and 21st Street allows pets.

Santa Barbara’s Arroyo Burro Beach permits pets to be off leash past the slough, while Montara State Beach in the Bay Area’s Coastside invites dogs as long as they’re leashed.

Best Dog-Friendly Parks

The second largest park in San Francisco, McLaren Park has dog play areas. The Coastside Trail is a paved dog-friendly path that connects various Half Moon Bay beaches and the adjacent shoreline. One of the Monterey Peninsula’s best places to hike with your dog is Carmel Valley’s Garland Ranch Regional Park. The park has off-leash areas and water fountains designed to hydrate both you and your pet.

The California State Parks on the coast generally allow leashed dogs dogs in the day use areas but not on the trails. Contact the specific state park that you will be visiting to confirm where your pet is permitted.

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