Blog of Michael Fielden

Dog Beach in the Bay Area? Which is your favorite?

Put your vote in today – where is the best dog beach in the Bay Area?

In 2011, the Humane Society of the United States reported that there are approximately 78.2 million dogs in the United States. Mine, Tucker, is one of them. Of course, I don’t think of him as a dog but instead as part of the family. Probably the most spoiled part, but that may well go without saying. The funniest part is that I know he doesn’t think he’s a dog, so I guess it’s all even in the end.

I grew up in San Diego, with dogs, and well before there were “strictly enforced” leash laws and beaches that didn’t allow dogs at all. Quite the contrary, outside of La Jolla Cove and a few protected estuaries, I can’t remember a beach that we didn’t take the dogs off-leash. Just south of where we lived, in Ocean Beach was a place that I still only know as Dog Beach.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, finding a good dog beach is a little more difficult, and they are stricter about what they allow and in most cases the beaches have quietly become places where dogs simply aren’t allowed. Still, there are a few beaches that do allow dogs, although most of them have rules and require dogs to be on a leash at all times. I’ve tried to compile a list of beaches that do allow dogs and how they allow them; here’s what I have found:

Carmel Dog Beach, Carmel, California(map)
Carmel as a city and especially Carmel’s dog beach is by far one of the most dog-friendly areas possible, and most of the stores and parks and beaches are dog friendly. Unfortunately, for those wanting to follow the rules, almost all require your canine pal to be leashed up. Winter rules tend to be a little more lax, but generally speaking this crowded paradise doesn’t open itself up to off leash excursions and never legally.

Baker Dog Beach, San Francisco, California (map)
Baker’s Dog Beach is not best known for being dog friendly. It’s also not best known for its proximity to San Francisco, or the beautiful views of the Golden Gate Bridge. Nope, Baker Beach is best known for being San Francisco’s most popular “clothing optional” beach. Unfortunately, this makes it a less than kid friendly in an era where clothing optional often means more than just naked.

Kehoe Dog Beach, Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County (map)
Kehoe’s Dog Beach, an easy 0.6 mile walk from roadside Trailheadparking at Pierce Point Road, is a perfect excursion for families with small kids or anyone looking to explore one of Point Reyes’s sandy beaches without a long hike. This hike is enjoyable year round, but wildflower lovers hunting for blooms in April should definitely add Kehoe Beach to their short list, for a great display of flowers on a bluff above the beach. Dogs owners will want to hike here too, since the trail to Kehoe Beach is one of a handful of Point Reyes paths where dogs are permitted (on leash only, and note that the Trail to Kehoe Beach beach south of the trail is off limits to dogs). My recommendation would be to get to this one soon as I suspect it will be one of the next to lose its dog-friendly status, due to it’s proximity to wildlife.

Seabright Dog Beach, East Cliff Drive at Seabright Avenue, Santa Cruz (map)
Location wise, it’s difficult to beat Santa Cruz. Seabright’s Dog Beach is close enough to the action to make this a mainstay for any local dog-lover, although recent storms and masses of seaweed have left Seabright Dog Beach somewhat worse for wear. Best to hit this one on low tide or risk getting your feet wet getting to the little sand that remains in recent months.

As a small public service announcement – regardless of which dog beach or where you’re walking your dog, please make sure to clean up after your pet. Nobody wants to deal with your dog’s waste.