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Canine friends love playing on dog beaches in San Diego County. I walk my dog regularly on the beach, and there is never a dull moment between chasing birds, sniffing seaweed, socializing with other dogs, and generally freaking out with excitement. These excursions are worth the extra bath and sand in the car.

It’s important to know where to go as not all beaches in San Diego allow dogs. The ones that do have different hours, leash requirements, and other rules listed below.

Off-Leash Dog Beach San Diego Options

These are the best San Diego dog beaches where your well-behaved furry friend can roam freely under voice control.

Ocean Beach Dog Beach 

Address: End of Voltaire St, Ocean Beach, CA 92107 (Map)

Dogs run near the water's edge at Ocean Beach Dog Beach
It’s so fun to play in the ocean.

Ocean Beach Dog Beach was established in 1972 as one of the first official leash-free beaches in the United States. It’s a great place that welcomes all breeds and sizes, in line with the beach town’s vibe.

The Original Dog Beach is wide and sandy, with a lot of space for pups to play and swim. It’s one of the most popular off-leash dog beaches in San Diego as there are no hourly restrictions.

The off-leash area can be found in the northern part, where the sand meets the mouth of the San Diego River. Keep your dogs north of the Ocean Beach Bike Path and avoid the area between the path and the beach pier. 

Expert surfers also enjoy a popular surf break here.

Off-leash times: 24 hours a day, every day.

Coronado Dog Beach

Address: Ocean Court and Ocean Boulevard, Coronado, CA 92118 (Map)

A Golden Retriever plays on Coronado Dog Beach in San Diegol.

You’ll find North Beach Dog Run Beach north of the popular Coronado beach in front of Hotel del Coronado and south of the North Island U.S. Naval Station.

It’s the only off-leash beach on the Coronado Island shoreline and unique because there are no time restrictions. Signage indicates where your dog can be off-leash.

Dogs that like to surf (yes, really, they surf in San Diego) can sometimes be seen riding Coronado Dog Beach waves on foam boards. Yes, they usually wear life jackets and sometimes boardshorts.

It’s also one of the best dog-friendly beaches in San Diego, CA, because owners appreciate that it’s a quieter spot to sunbathe and other amenities like fire pits, a lifeguard tower (not always staffed), a foot shower, and free dog litter bags at the entrance. And you will surely enjoy the stunning views from Point Loma to south of The Del.

Dog Beach is across the street from Sunset Park. While tempting to let your dog run around this big grassy area, the park does not allow dogs.

Off-leash times: 24 hours, every day.

Fiesta Island Park on Mission Bay 

Address: 1750 Fiesta Island Rd, San Diego, CA 92109 (Map)

Located on San Diego’s Mission Bay, Fiesta Island is a hub of activity with tons of events year-round. Pups don’t have to miss out. Fiesta Island was voted Best Dog Park in the Country by USA TODAY 10Best.

There are designated off-leash dog beach areas covering most of the beach, other than the Youth Campground and endangered least tern bird nesting sites. Basically, your pooch is allowed anywhere outside of the fenced areas.

There are fantastic sand dunes, hiking trails, and ample space for your dog to run around. If they love water, they’re sure to run into the waveless, calm bay waters.

Note that there aren’t public facilities like restrooms on Fiesta Island, so you’ll need to bring water for your dog.

Off-leash times: 6 a.m. – 10 p.m. every day.

Del Mar Dog Beach 

Address: 3200 Camino Del Mar, Del Mar, CA 92014 (Map)

Dogs play in the water at at Dog Beach Del Mar by the Rivermouth.
A group of dogs of different breeds playing in the ocean

Del Mar North Beach, also known as Dog Beach, is the only beach that your dog can be leash-free on Del Mar City beaches year-round (certain times apply). This stunning dog-friendly option in San Diego runs about a half-mile from 29th Street to Solana Beach.

Most dogs play ball and swim in the ocean section below the San Dieguito River mouth near the volleyball net poles while their humans socialize.

During off-peak season mornings, the off-leash beach area extends south into adjacent Main Beach. The boundaries of Main Beach are in between Powerhouse Park and North Beach.

Main Beach off-leash times: Day after Labor Day through June 15, dogs are allowed off-leash between dawn and 8 a.m. only. They are allowed on-leash after 8 a.m. during these days. Between June 16 and Labor Day, no dogs are allowed on Main Beach (it gets jam-packed) at all.

North Beach off-leash times: Permitted off-leash hours vary by the time of year, so it always pays to check before you go. Between the day after Labor Day and June 15, dogs can be leash-free at any hour. From June 16 through Labor Day, dogs can be off-leash from dawn to 8 a.m. and on-leash during other hours.


On-Leash Dog-Friendly San Diego Beaches 

Many beaches in San Diego County allow dogs during certain hours but they must be leashed. Beaches overseen by the City of San Diego let you bring pups in the morning and evening (hours vary by the season). Most beaches overseen by the California Department of Parks and Recreation do not allow dogs on the beach. These are a few popular places to go to.

All dog-friendly beaches in San Diego mentioned below require that you use leashes no longer than 6′.

WHY A 6′ LEASH?

This popular length provides the freedom to explore and substantial control. The longer the leash gets, the less control you have. The reverse is true – we trained our dog on a 4′ leash. Plus, setting a leash length makes life on dog beaches fair because everyone is restricted to the same amount of space.

La Jolla Shores Beach

Address: 8200 Camino Del Oro, La Jolla, CA 92037 (Map)

La Jolla Shores Beach is one of La Jolla's best attractions.
A big nope from Scooby who hated water.

I love walking my dogs on La Jolla Shores Beach. It’s big, so if you have nervous rescue dogs like my first pit bull was, there is plenty of space to meet other pooches or avoid dogs. It’s flat, about a mile-long (though you could keep walking north), and you can use Scripps Pier as a distance benchmark.

You can park in the La Jolla Shores Beach parking lot next to Kellogg Park, which has a fun small playground for kids, a huge grassy area, and a new huge mosaic map of the La Jolla Ecological Reserve, including sea life seen underwater. Leashed dogs are allowed at Kellogg Park.

Times when leashed dogs are allowed: City of San Diego beach rules apply. Dogs are allowed before 9 a.m. and after 4 p.m. from November 1 to March 31 and before 9 a.m. and after 6 p.m. between April 1 and October 31.

Learn more: Where to Go to the Beach in La Jolla

Pacific Beach 

Address (Law Street Beach): 671 Ocean Blvd #601, San Diego, CA 92109 (Map)

My rescue dog, Ruby, loves Pacific Beach.

I park on the residential streets near the beach on Law Street and use the beach access point near the bathrooms. This is another huge sandy beach to walk on where you can greet dogs or have enough space to walk on your own.

Most people walk or run here for exercise in the mornings. In the evenings, you’ll find people parked in the sand with their dogs to watch the sunset, picnic, and enjoying normal beach activities.

During the summer months, local families tend to stay later at the beach. It’s less crowded, but still a warm time to swim or surf. So, I’m often picking my daughter up from the beach with my dog in tow.

Times when leashed dogs are allowed: City of San Diego beach rules apply. Dogs are allowed before 9 a.m. and after 4 p.m. from November 1 to March 31 and before 9 a.m. and after 6 p.m.between April 1 and October 31.

Learn more: Where to Go to the Beach in Pacific Beach

TIP: OCEAN FRONT WALK IS DOG-FRIENDLY

A beach boardwalk lined with shops, bars, and restaurants runs between Pacific Beach and Mission Beach. It’s called Ocean Front Walk but referred to as the Mission Beach boardwalk. Leashed dogs are welcome at all times to walk with owners.

Mission Beach

Address: Mission Boulevard and Ventura Place, San Diego, CA 92019 (Map)

My dog sticks his tongue out while walking on Mission Beach.
My dog enjoyed winter evening walks on Mission Beach.

If you keep walking south on Pacific Beach, eventually, it transitions to Mission Beach. If you like to run or walk with your dog, you can clock in a good 6 mile round trip between the Law Street beach entrance and where South Mission Beach ends at the jetty.

South Mission Beach is where many pet-friendly San Diego vacation rentals are located. So, it’s convenient that canines are allowed on Ocean Front Walk at any time and the beach during certain times.

Most beach amenities like a permanent lifeguard station, bathrooms, basketball courts, and volleyball courts are located at South Mission Beach.

Dogs must be on a leash, but you can walk them through Belmont Park, our seaside amusement park, here as well.

Times when leashed dogs are allowed: City of San Diego beach rules apply. Dogs are allowed before 9 a.m. and after 4 p.m. from November 1 to March 31 and before 9 a.m. and after 6 p.m. between April 1 and October 31.

Learn more: Where to Go to the Beach in Mission Beach

Del Mar South and Main Beaches

Address (Main): 1700 Coast Blvd, Del Mar, CA 92014 (Map)
Address (South): Stratford Court and 11th Street, Del Mar, CA 92014

Del Mar is not a part of the City of San Diego, so their rules for dogs on the beach are a little more generous.

South of North Beach (Del Mar Dog Beach), you’ll find two other beaches that are popular for walks and on-leash dogs. We already discussed Main Beach, which has early morning off-leash and on-leash hours during the remainder of the day during the off-peak season only. Otherwise, no dogs are allowed.

South Beach, in between Main Beach and Torrey Pines State Beach at 6th Street, allows you to walk leashed dogs on the beach at any time. How nice is that?

South Beach times when leashed dogs are allowed: 24 hours per day, every day.

Learn more: Where to Go to the Beach in Del Mar

Cardiff State Beach

Address: 2504 S Coast Hwy 101, Cardiff By The Sea, CA 92007 (Map)

Cardiff State Beach is the only state beach in San Diego that allows dogs. What’s nice is that generous hours mean that they can accompany you on a stereotypical Southern California beach day. This is a very popular beach for swimming and sunbathing thanks to its size.

You can go camping here, too, at the adjacent San Elijo State Beach campground. Dogs are allowed in the campground but not on the beach. This isn’t a big deal because you would instead walk over to Cardiff State Beach.

Like other state beaches, you do pay to park your car. Use an automated machine located near the restroom and entrance at the Seaside Parking Lot to pay.

Times when leashed dogs are allowed: When the beach is open. Beach hours are 6 a.m. – 11 p.m. daily.

Imperial Beach

Address (South IB): Imperial Beach Boulevard and Seacoast Drive, Imperial Beach, CA 91932 (Map)

If you’re already in the South Bay, you take your dog for walks in some parts of Imperial Beach. Avoid the area between Imperial Beach Boulevard and Palm Avenue. South of Imperial Beach Boulevard and north of Palm Avenue are both dog-friendly beach areas.

A note about South Imperial Beach: There aren’t many amenities here like restrooms, and you’ll want to bring water for your dog. I would check the ocean water quality before letting your dog walk into the water. It’s near the United States- Mexico border, and the Tijuana River empties into the ocean near here, which prompts contamination alerts. Ocean swimming near the Imperial Beach pier and north isn’t impacted as much.

Times when leashed dogs are allowed: City of San Diego beach rules apply. Dogs are allowed before 9 a.m. and after 4 p.m. from November 1 to March 31 and before 9 a.m. and after 6 p.m. between April 1 and October 31.


Dog Beach San Diego Rules, Etiquette, & Tips

An Irish Setter wearing a pink life jackets surfs on a pink board.
See? They do surf in San Diego.

Pets and their owners can enjoy a fun day on the sand if they follow these required guidelines and expected etiquette.

Dogs Must Wear Collars With Current Licenses

Ensure that your dog wears a collar with his or her license and your contact details on it. If you live in San Diego County, this license comes from the San Diego Humane Society. These days, it has a handy QR code that people can scan to find owner information. If you don’t have this license, you can order one online.

TIP: WATERPROOF DOG COLLARS

I recommend a waterproof dog collar versus letting your dog’s normal collar get wet. A wet collar that holds sand and saltwater on the skin can lead to neck chafing which is difficult to control, in my experience, once it starts.

They Must Respond to Voice Control

If you’re visiting one of the off-leash beaches, please be sure that your dog impeccably responds to voice control. It’s the best way to keep everyone safe, and these leash-free areas operating without complaints.

On the flip side, be aware that many pet-owners who frequent dog parks and dog beaches in San Diego do not, in my experience.

Vaccinations Are Required

Keep puppies at home until all of their required vaccinations are received. The City of San Diego also requires that adult dogs are fully-vaccinated, which is also necessary for licensing.

Bring a Leash to Off-Leash Areas

The odds are that parking lots, street parking, and the sidewalks you take to get to the beach have leash requirements. Plus, in the event your pup really wants to play with a dog who isn’t interested, you’ll need it to break the focus.

Pick Up After Your Pup

Take waste bags with you and clean up after your dogs, leaving only paw prints and fun memories behind. It’s actually illegal to leave dog waste on public property in San Diego, and you can be fined for it.

Don’t Let Your Dog Drink Ocean Water

When ingested in large quantities, saltwater disrupts a dog’s fluid balance. A little bit here in there swallowed from chasing balls into the ocean, and swimming is likely okay. Read more about how salt water is dangerous for dogs so that you can keep an eye on yours.

Carry fresh water instead, which will also help flush out the salt if your dog does decide to drink the ocean.

BYO FRESH WATER

You will see San Diego dog owners with these cool portable leakproof water dispensers with drinking bowls attached that you can pop into your bag. I recommend this one.
things to do with dogs la jolla
My happy rescue pit bull on La Jolla Shores Beach.

Don’t Let Them Eat Seaweed Either

Seaweed also has a high salt content but also absorbs pollutants from the ocean. On our beaches, it’s also where you’ll find a lot of microtrash which could be dangerous to dogs if ingested.

Dried seaweed carries the risk of expanding once inside a dog’s stomach, risking intestinal blockage. The best rule of thumb is to make sure your pooch doesn’t eat anything off the beach.


What San Diego Beaches Do NOT Allow Dogs?

As mentioned above, dogs are not allowed on many of our state beaches. These include:

  • Carlsbad State Beach (campground is okay)
  • South Carlsbad State Beach (campground is okay)
  • Silver Strand State Beach
  • Torrey Pines State Beach
  • San Elijo State Beach (campground is okay)
  • Moonlight State Beach
  • Leucadia State Beach

You can read the rules for dogs at the state park and beach you plan to visit.

What is your favorite dog-friendly beach in San Diego, CA?

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