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Pismo Beach & Shell Beach

Pismo offers all-day access for you and your best friend, and if you happen to stay all day, it is hard to beat the sunsets on Pismo Beach. Your canine companion is welcome any time of day, but dogs are not allowed on the north side of the pier, so keep a close watch. If you want to head north, Dinosaur Caves Park in Shell Beach is a spot to catch the West Coast sunset but ditch the sand for grass and a playground.

Avila Beach

While Avila has some restrictions, there are also some really great options for letting your furry friend get off the leash for some real exercise. Avila’s main beach prohibits dogs between 10am and 5pm daily, but right up the road at the Olde Port Beach and Fisherman’s Beach, coincidentally nicknamed “Dog Beach,” you can take off the leash and let your boy or girl run off the excess energy and play with other dogs in or out of the saltwater.

Montaña de Oro

Hidden away off Pecho Valley Road, Montaña de Oro has rugged, hike-ready coastline ready for you and your pal or pals. Spooner’s Cove is a hidden treasure for dog owners … oops … it used to be a hidden treasure for dog owners. Well, any way it is a great beach for dogs, and you will probably find a new friend or two while you are there — bring some extra treats.

Morro Bay

What used to be known as Atascadero Beach, or A-Beach, is now known as the areas dog beach. The northern section, North Point Natural Area, is partially developed with benches for resting for the sunset, and a semi-switchback ramp that takes you down to the sand where Fido can run off the leash. The area is great for sea life in tide pools, and some pretty fancy shells can be found from time to time. The view south is spectacular, with the coast careening out to Morro Rock’s statuesque majesty.

Cayucos State Beach

Another all-friendly, all-the-time beach for dogs is Cayucos State Beach. With cooler temps than her southern counterparts, Cayucos has a quiet stillness that is riled a few times a year — like 4th of July and New Year’s Day to name a couple — and it is a great place for some alone time with your four-legged friend. Keep a leash on, but get lost in the charm.

Asilomar State Beach

The Asilomar Natural Dune Preserve is a world away from the Southern California style beaches you get at Pismo or Ventura. The posted walking paths and fencing give off an east-coast flavor that command the most from your pups. Dogs are allowed on the beach and in the preserve, with a 6-foot leash, and a 1/4-mile boardwalk makes a peaceful traverse through the restored sand dune area.

Carmel City Beach

Carmel-By-The-Sea is one of the highest-rated dog-friendly cities in the nation, so it shouldn’t surprise that Carmel City Beach is considered ultra pet friendly. It is a leash-free world. Just don’t forget your dog is a dog and needs you to … you know … bring a doggy bag.

Garrapata State Park

A short trip south of Carmel, and you are ready for some off-the-beaten path adventure. Get out to Garrapata State Park for two miles of shoreline, hiking, and fresh Pacific air. Your dog will enjoy the space to explore with you, but keep a hand on that leash so he or she doesn’t have a run-in with a local resident. There are harbor seals, sea otters, sea lions and even whales in the area at times. 

Thousand Steps Beach | Santa Barbara

Thousand Steps Beach allows your furry friend to run free without a leash while you enjoy a seemingly secluded beach that is surrounded by homes high on the bluff. It does require a long trek down a stone staircase to get to the there so be sure that you keep your pup close so you both make it down safely. This shoreline is an exceptional place for tide pools at low tide that both you and your canine will enjoy. Just be sure to take some water.  

Arroyo Burro Beach | Santa Barbara

Arroyo Burro Beach loves our four legged friends and allows them to run free on the beach south of the creek mouth, and on-leash in the rest of the park. This beautiful beach is surrounded by tall bluffs and some of the best tides pools that you and your companion can enjoy. It is advised that you check with the lifeguard if the creek is flowing because it may be unsanitary so be sure to take plenty water for you and your pup.  

Harbor Cover Beach

This beautiful beach is a popular for families because the harbor breakwaters provide safety from the harsh currents. Dogs are free to explore the beach, provided they are on a 6-foot leash.

Marina Park

The Beautiful Marina Park is perfect for families, and a great place for dogs. With picnic tables and barbecue grills, it can be a great one-on-one or group date destination, so long as your dog is leashed.

Promenade Park

The pier and promenade await the dog owner in need of a long walk and a long pier. Dogs are allowed, on a leash, around a 1-acre seaside park for the pets. When finished, pick up a snack for you and Rex at the Beach House Taco Stand before heading home.

Basic Dog Etiquette for the Beach

  • Keep your dog leashed — 6 foot leash max — unless the beach expressly allows dogs off the leash.
  • Be sure your dog is follows orders under good voice command before allowing him or her off the leash.
  • Always keep your dog in sight if unleashed. 
  • Allow your dog to approach other dogs or people only if invited to.
  • Always clean up after your dog — dispose of the litter appropriately, don’t bury it.
  • California State Parks require you to have proof of rabies vaccination for your dog. It’s a good idea to keep it with you.
  • Some parks and beaches will have more restrictive rules than others. This guide could be a good jumping off point, but give the park or beach a call before you show. Someone will answer your questions and help provide the best experience possible.
  • Never leave your dog unattended.