San Diego is known for its beautiful beaches, great dining experiences, and other fun activities, but some of these locations don’t allow dogs. If you’re trying to find the best dog-friendly restaurants, dog-friendly hotels, and even dog-friendly beaches, not to worry! There might be restrictions, but if you have a dog in San Diego, CA, you’ll have plenty of places to explore.
The dog-friendly activities in San Diego are certainly not lacking, and you’ll find that you can bring your furry friends to dog parks in San Diego, to a dog beach, and dog-friendly restaurants from downtown San Diego to places like North Park and Ocean Beach, among many others. You may be surprised to learn just how many spots in San Diego are dog friendly, especially for leashed dogs.
As you look for the best San Diego dog-friendly activities, we’ll look at outdoor places like Mission Bay and San Diego Bay, as well as indoor areas with a pet-friendly atmosphere. So, stick around as we dive into San Diego’s best dog-friendly locations with pet amenities so that as a dog owner you don’t have to worry about your furry best friend being denied access.
The 9 Best Dog-Friendly Things to Do in San Diego
If you are looking for a dog-friendly vacation, visit San Diego. As a dog owner, you’ll find great off-leash parks, dog-friendly hotels, and restaurants that will either let your dog inside or at least allow them to hang out with you on the patio. We’ll be focusing on cool outdoor activities since there are so many of them, but there is no shortage of things to do with your four-legged friend in sunny San Diego.
1. Go to Del Mar Dog Beach- Del Mar
This aptly named dog beach is in Del Mar and is one of the best spots in San Diego for pups to play and people to explore in harmony. Dogs are allowed off-leash from dawn until 8 am but are meant to be leashed after that, due to the large, open spacing of the area. You’ll see that some dogs are not leashed and play in the shallow water near a bridge in the area, but you’ll have to make the call that you think is best. This is a beautiful spot to visit, even if you don’t have a dog, and is home to plenty of sand volleyball games, picnics, and gatherings that dogs get to be a part of.
2. Hike the Tecolote Canyon Trail- Clairemont Mesa West
Plenty of people come here to run or walk their dogs on leashes, and its easy access to nearby neighborhoods makes it a hot spot among the locals. As a visitor, this is a fantastic way to get outdoors with your dog, in a more unique way than hitting a dog park or beach. If you’re wanting a dog-friendly way to explore the local hiking scene, this is your spot! Head to Lazy Dog Restaurant and Bar in the nearby Mission Valley afterward to get some food that you can enjoy, with your dog by your side.
Or, say you need to walk the dog before a day of activities that they might not be able to go on. This is a good length to help get their energy out and will let you feel okay about spending a day away from them.
3. Grape Street Dog Park- Balboa Park
Image - Dog Owners of Grape St
Spanning 5 acres, this dog park is wonderful and has some added amenities like a water fountain Though it’s at the very edge of Balboa Park, Grape Street Dog Park happens to be the largest of Balboa’s three dog parks. Here, you’ll find open fields that are surrounded by eucalyptus trees that make the space extra enjoyable to spend time in with your furry friend. Visit during off-leash hours, from 7:30 am to 9 pm during the week and 9 am to 9 pm during the weekends. At any other time of day, your dog will need to be on a leash, but the park is open 24/7 for use.
There are restrooms and an additional two water fountains for dogs, as well.
4. North Beach (Dog Run Beach)- Coronado Island
Image - Coronado Visitor Center.com
North Beach, Dog Run Beach as it is also known, is a nice stretch of sand where you and your dog can walk in peace along the beach. Without any large boulders or hills, this is a nice, laid-back spot to walk your dog while you are in San Diego. Located in the north part of Coronado Island, you’ll have great views of the Hotel del Coronado, where you can stay with your dog, too. It is not only a beautiful, historical San Diego landmark but also happens to be quite dog friendly. Leroy’s Kitchen and Lounge is a great place to grab some grub, and you can even bring your dog along here, too!
5. Kate Sessions Memorial Park- Pacific Beach
This is not a dog park, specifically, but you can easily enjoy a picnic with your pooch in this quaint neighborhood park with views overlooking downtown San Diego and the water. Dogs are supposed to be leashed here, though many are not, and it does not appear to be an issue in most cases. Use your own discernment with this, though, because the rule is still technically there.
Walk your dog around the grassy, hilly park a few times to get their energy out, and then sit down for a nice picnic lunch or dinner as you take in the sights of San Diego. You can sit on a picnic blanket or utilize one of the many picnic tables. If you just want to go to the park, head to PB Fish Shop afterward for a meal. They are dog friendly and will bring out dog bowls and treats for your pup.
6. Sunset Cliffs Natural Park- Ocean Beach
Image - Taylor Reilly
For a short, accessible hike that welcomes dogs off and on a leash, this trail is open year-round and has some beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean, especially at sunset. Between the trails, some of which have been recently renovated to be more accessible, and the cliffs over the ocean, your pup can get out their energy while you enjoy one of San Diego’s best sunset spots. Head to Ocean Beach’s nearby Raglan Public House for some great Kiwi-inspired food on their dog-friendly patio.
7. Fiesta Island- Mission Bay
Fiesta Island is an off-leash space bordered by the waters of Mission Bay. It has a large dog park, an area with nice picnic tables, and plenty of space for your dog to play around. You can bring food and park your vehicle quite close to the water, and the space really only gets crowded during weekends in the summer. Other than that, there is plenty of space and privacy to walk with your dog, and to let it interact with other dogs only as you wish. The area itself is beautiful and offers clear views of downtown as well as lots of water and sand for your dog to enjoy. There are no restrooms here, so just keep that in mind as you plan your day.
8. Hit Up The Dog Society- Rolando Park
The Dog Society is a super cool spot in San Diego that is geared toward dogs, with humans in mind. It’s a sports bar, a doggy daycare, a café, a groomer, an outdoor game area, and a boarding center all in one. Dogs take center stage, as do their needs, but dog owners can come by and get some work done at the café or drink some local craft beer with friends. You don’t even have to be a dog owner to come here and get your fill of all the dogs nearby, which only adds to the allure for many dog lovers.
Dogs must remain on leash in food areas but are free to run as they please in the doggy daycare areas.
9. Visit the Original Dog Beach- Ocean Beach
The original dog beach is nationally famous for being one of the first, official, leash-free dog beaches in the entire country. Near the San Diego River, this is a hub for dog lovers and beach lovers to come together and share a wonderful experience. You’ll see surfers in the water that dogs are playing at the edge of, as families and pets of all types walk the beach.
Truly a great place to experience during your time in San Diego, Dog Beach is a must-see.
There is so much to do with your dog in San Diego that fits in with any activities you already want to do, or things you want to see. Make sure to take advantage of all the beachside patio spaces, because the majority of them allow dogs and have water bowls to offer. When in doubt- ask! Many places in San Diego are dog friendly, but you’ll just want to make sure ahead of time to avoid any confusion. Now, go explore with your furry friend!