Dog Friendly Beaches in San Diego

Say, are you looking for dog-friendly beaches in San Diego? There is no better feeling than sharing the outdoors together as a dog owner! And what better place to explore than at the beach!

Here I would like to present a comprehensive list of all the dog-friendly beaches in San Diego. I will cover the entire San Diego County, starting north and making my way to the U.S./ Mexico Border.

I have added a # to specify which location is leash-free.

San Diego County Map Dog Friendly Beaches In San Diego

Dog-Friendly Beaches in San Diego North County

If you stay in North County, San Diego, there are only a few places where you can walk on the beach with your dog. Both the cities of Oceanside and Carlsbad do not allow dogs on the beach.

But, fear no more; San Onofre State Beach, located 20 minutes north of Oceanside, has two areas where you can experience the sand and water with your dog.

If you travel a bit south, San Elijo State Beach,  Seaside Beach at Cardiff State Beach, and a few Del Mar Beaches allow dogs.

Let’s have a look.

San Onofre State Beach

Old Pacific Highway, San Clemente, CA 92672

Dogpatch Beach Dog Friendly San Diego Beaches

Seeing that this is a State Beach, there is a 15-dollar charge, but it is worth it!

It is also important to mention that dogs are allowed on a leash only at the south end of the parking lot at Dogpatch Beach. 

 At San Onofre State Beach, you will find a large sandy beach you and your pal can explore. Also, the water is relatively calm here, which is excellent if your dog enjoys going in the water.

Dogpatch Beach 1 three dogs beach ocean surfer

San Onofre Bluff Campground

5200 S Pacific Coast Hwy, San Clemente, CA 92672

Man dog beach san onofre state beach
Trail One at San Onofre Bluffs Beach

Situated on top of the bluffs overlooking San Onofre State Beach at the San Onofre Bluffs Campground, you will find six nature trails starting up top and connecting you to the beach.

Dogs are allowed only on Trails 1 and 6 with a leash no greater than 6 feet long. San Onofre is very rural, and the trails can be dangerous, so please keep that in mind.

Also, because Trail 6 is so isolated, it has become an unofficial nude beach. Keep that in mind!

Map of Trails

San Elijo State Beach

Encinitas, CA 92007

San Elijo State Beach bluff view

San Elijo State Beach is another dog-friendly beach in San Diego that is an absolute must-visit if you enjoy watching people surf! Dogs have to be on a leash here and be aware that coastal reefs’ nearshore can be hazardous to dog paws and human feet.

There are showers upstairs at the campgrounds if you want to rinse off your dog. The surf is rough at this beach, so keep that in mind.

Seaside Beach at Cardiff State Beach

2526 S Coast Hwy 101, Solana Beach, CA 92075

Seaside Beach Cardiff State Beach Dog At Tidepools

A vast parking lot starts at four dollars an hour or 15 for all day. There are showers and restrooms, which are always a plus! Remember to keep your dog on the leash and pick up after them as the north side of this beach is protected habitat.

Seaside Beach Cardiff State Beach Dog Friendly

Del Mar Shores Beach Access

180 Del Mar Shores Terrace, Solana Beach, CA 92075

Del Mar Dog Sign Dog Friendly Beaches in San Diego

Dogs are welcome here south of the staircase with a leash. Solana Beach also requires that the leashes be only a maximum of 6 feet. If you followed this beach south, you would be at Del Mar Dog Beach.

Del Mar Shores Beach Access Leashed Beach Dogs

Del Mar Dog Beach- North Beach #

3200 Camino Del Mar, Del Mar, CA 92014

Del Mar Dog Beach Bluff View

Located directly behind the Del Mar Fairgrounds, Del Mar Dog Beach is the place to go if you want your dog to be leash-free from Labor Day to June 15. After June 15, your dog must be on a leash. Here we have one of the most dog-friendly beaches in San Diego, North County!

There is a large sandy beach with lots of room for your dog to roam. It is important to note that the water currents are rough when the tide is high, so please keep this in mind if your dog likes to swim.

Del Mar Dog Sign Dog Beach

Del Mar City Beach

1660 Coast Blvd, Del Mar, CA 92014

Del Mar City Beach Dog Friendly Beaches in San Diego

The rules of this beach are the following: leashed dogs are only allowed from Labor Day until June 15; after that, no dogs are allowed for the rest of the year.

City of Del Mar Dog Rules sign posted
City of Del Mar Dog Rules

Del Mar South Beach Access

Stratford Court & 11th St, Del Mar, CA

South Beach Del Mar Dog Friendly Beaches in San Diego

At South Beach Del Mar, leashed dogs are welcomed year-round. Here at South Beach Del Mar, you will find a dirt trail above the bluff train tracks, making for an excellent walk with your leashed dog. The path is gorgeous, and not many people know it, so you’re welcome!

Getting here is tricky as there is no parking lot, and the entranceway is in a residential neighborhood.

San Diego City Dog Friendly Beaches

Here in San Diego, we especially love our dogs! Every beach run by the city allows leashed dogs on the beach before 9 am throughout the year, and times vary with the time of year.

Here are two official times when no dogs are allowed on any San Diego beach, boardwalk, or adjacent parks-

  • April 1 to October 31 from 9 am to 6 pm
  • November 1 to March 31 from 9 am to 4 pm

For further information, I have included a link to the rules and regulations for the San Diego City Beaches.

–>San Diego Beach Amenities and Regulations<–

La Jolla Shores Beach

San Diego, CA 92037

La Jolla Shores Beach sandy beach

La Jolla Shore Beach is one of my favorite beaches! Your dog will love that you can take a nice long walk on the shoreline. A short bike path runs parallel to the beach, making for a great option if you do not want your dog to get sandy.

Pacific Beach-Palisades Park

Law St & Ocean Blvd, San Diego, CA 92019

Palisades Park North Pacific Beach Trail

Pacific Beach is one of the most crowded beaches in San Diego, and I have presented you with the option of getting away from the enormous crowds with your dog.

As stated previously, you may walk your dog with a leash on the beach and adjacent parks but only before 9 am or after 6 pm (4 pm in winter).

Palisades Park is located in North Pacific Beach, provides a small dirt trail that follows the bluffs south and will eventually connect you to the Pacific Beach Boardwalk. You may explore the coastline from above and down by the shore.

Fiesta Island-Mission Bay #

1750 Fiesta Island Rd, San Diego, CA 92109

Fiesta Island Dog Park south west corner
Fiesta Island Dog Park is located on the southwest corner.

Fiesta Island is located across from SeaWorld in Mission Bay. Here your best friend can be leash-free 24 hours a day if you are within the boundaries. What a great place to hang out, frolic in the calm Mission Bay waters, and watch the boats go by in the distance.

—>Fiesta Island-A Closer Look<—

Please remember to bring ample amounts of water and be sure to clean up any presents left behind.

Fiesta Island Dog Park Rules entrance

Ocean Beach Dog Beach #

Ocean Beach Bike Path, San Diego, CA 92107

Dog Beach Ocean Beach Black Lab on sand

If I had to pick one of the most dog-friendly beaches in San Diego, it would have to be Ocean Beach’s nationally famous Dog Beach! Did you know that Dog Beach in Ocean Beach was the first leash-free beach in the United States? Here dogs are allowed leash-free for 24 hours a day!

Dog Beach is located in north Ocean Beach, right next to the mouth of the San Diego River. Dogs, beachgoers, and surfers can enjoy the beach together in this oasis.

The City of Ocean Beach asks that you do not take puppies here without vaccinations, that all dogs have a current license on their collar, and that you please pick up after your dogs.

Let’s look at the video showcasing dogs having the time of their lives, not to mention their owners too!

After a bit of research, I found this establishment-Dog Beach Dog Wash, only a few blocks away, where they offer you the opportunity to wash your dog. What a great idea to go and wash your dog after a day at the beach; I mean, you do need to clean them, yes?

Check it out!

Sunset Cliffs Coastal Trail (Linear Park)

San Diego, CA 92107

Sunset Cliffs Linear Park Trail ocean on left

So this is not a ‘beach’ per se, but it is one of the loveliest walks in San Diego. At Sunset Cliffs Coastal Trail, you can walk the bluff with your leashed buddy and take in all that this area has for you., which is quite a lot!

I implore you to take in the sounds of the surroundings-crashing waves, screeching birds, and the subtle soft winds that will transform your mental health.

And don’t forget the many surfers in the water, they are always fun to watch.

You will never be bored here!

—>King Tide Sunset Cliffs Natural Park<—

Again the same rules apply here as in all of San Diego City Beaches. Dogs are allowed only between 6 pm, and 9 am and are constantly on a leash.

I highly suggest coming here to check out the sunset, as the view over here is out of this world here!

Coronado Dog Run Beach #

Ocean Blvd, Coronado, CA 92118

Coronado Dog Run Beach Dog Friendly Beaches in San Diego

Coronado Island is found just across the Bay from Downtown San Diego. Over here, you will find another 24-hour leash-free dog beach! Dogs are allowed leash-free between Sunset Park and Ocean Drive to the U.S. Naval Air Station border. There are vast dunes to run around and gentle waves for the most part.

The City of Coronado is stringent, so if you have a dog without a leash outside of the boundaries, you will get a $500 ticket. No food or treats are allowed on the beach, and Coronado will not tolerate aggressive dogs or people here.

At the far end of the beach, near the entrance of the Naval Air Station, there is a water fountain for both humans and dogs. Small plastic bags are also available for you to pick up after your baby.

Coronado Dog Run Beach Water Fountains

Imperial Beach

Imperial Beach, CA 91932-south of Imperial Beach Blvd

706 Ocean Ln, Imperial Beach, CA 91932– north of Palm Ave

Imperial Beach Dog Friendly Beaches in San Diego
South Imperial Beach

Imperial Beach is just 2 miles north of the U.S. /Mexican Border. You can only walk your dog south of Imperial Beach Blvd in South Imperial Beach or north of Palm Ave, and you will be sited if you try to walk between the two. Also, dogs are not allowed on the Imperial Beach Pier.

Of particular note,  I do not recommend visiting Imperial Beach after a rainstorm as the bacteria levels in the ocean waters is always extremely high. Please take this into account if you plan to visit.

Imperial Beach North
North of Palm Ave is right after the second jetty in the far distance.

Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge

1680 Seacoast Drive, Imperial Beach 91932

Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge south view
Refuge on the left with Baja California, Mexico, in the far background.

So now we come to the very last place in the United States for your dog to walk on the beach with a leash. As you can see, a protected National Wildlife Refuge is here; therefore, no dogs are allowed within.

You are allowed the walk the coastal strip, though. The fur babies must be on leashes here as some roped-off sections on this beach protect threatened bird species, the Western Snowy Plover’s breeding grounds.

I have to say that it is a beautiful walk, with relatively few people around, which I appreciate. Here it is also possible to walk south to the mouth of the Tijuana River. Again, the water here is not the cleanest, so please keep that in mind while visiting here.

Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge Dog Friendly Beach

Dog-Friendly Beaches in San Diego Summary

dogs dogpatch beach san onofre state beach
Dogpatch Beach-San Onofre State Beach

As you can see, there are quite a few options for taking your dog to the beach in San Diego.

San Diego City Beach Hours And Requirements

  • Before 9 am or after 6 pm (April 1-Oct 31) or 4 pm (Nov 1-March 31)
  • All beaches require a maximum of a 6-foot leash
  • Imperial Beach allows for an 8-foot leash
  • Pick up after your dog
  • The appropriate license on the dog collar

No Dogs Allowed On These San Diego Beaches

  • City of Oceanside
  • City of Carlsbad

Leash-Free San Diego Beaches

  • Del Mar Dog Beach-North Beach (only between Labor Day and June 15)
  • Dog Beach Ocean Beach
  • Fiesta Island, Mission Bay
  • Coronado Dog Run Beach

So there you have it, all of the dog-friendly beaches in San Diego. Boy, am I in the mood to go to the beach with my dog now! How about you? Please feel free to leave any comments or questions below.

Until next time!


8 Replies to “Dog Friendly Beaches in San Diego”

  1. Ocean Beach’s Dog Beach sounds like the right place for me. My golden absolutely loves to jump in the waves, it is her favorite pass time beyond minnow hunting.

    My family and I are moving to San Diego next week for a job transfer and I am making sure that I’ve got all the key needs ironed out before I get there. Check for dog beaches thanks to this article.

    Can you by chance tell me if the water here is super salty given it is at the mouth of the river? I’m assuming salty, but fresh has always been easier on Morgan’s skin!

    1. Hi Craig! No, it is pure salt water, the river is nowhere near where the dogs are.
      Good luck with the move and I am so happy that I was able to help.

  2. Colleen, what a great article
    I live in New Zealand and have 2 wee doggies and having a beach to walk them on is so important to me
    You have given me some great ideas on places to visit when I travel too
    Thank you

  3. Hi Colleen, what a useful, and comprehensive article on dog friendly beaches in San Diego. I lived out there in the 70’s, and have been out there many times since. I have been to some of these beaches, and hearing about them, and seeing the pictures brings back pleasant memories. San Diego is on my list of 5 favorite cities in the US to live. For my next trip to San Diego, if we drive, and bring our Beagle Augie this information will come in handy.

    1. Thank you, Tom, for taking the time to comment. I am so happy to hear that the photos brought back good memories. I also hope that you all make it down here soon!

  4. Hey Colleen. You have such a great article with great amount of knowledge.
    You just gave me a great idea for when I am moving to USA. I had been worried about dog-friendly places which included beaches and other places. At least now I know San diego can accommodate me when I get there. I certainly love San Elijo State Beach out of all of them that you mentioned.
    Wow and the video just made me fall in love with those beaches because they were scattered with dogs. That’s my cup of tea.
    Thanx again

    1. I am so happy that you I was able to help you out! San Elijo is gorgeous and would be a great place to take your dog. Good luck with your move and I hope you can make it down to San Diego soon!

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