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Best Dog-Friendly Beaches & Hikes in San Diego 2023

a man holding a dog

What’s better than a day spent with your best friend? San Diego offers many outdoor experiences for you and your dog to enjoy together. Check out our guide to dog-friendly beaches and hiking spots throughout the metro area. 

Best Dog-Friendly Beaches

Humans aren’t the only creatures who love beaches! San Diego has several sandy and surfy locations where dogs can have fun on- and off-leash. 

Ocean Beach Dog Beach

Situated west of Alligator Rock, Ocean Beach is an excellent place for surfing, fishing, biking, and catching some rays with your pup (sunscreen recommended, of course). The beach welcomes you and your furry friend, allowing canines off-leash on the designated dog beach. Open 24 hours a day; Dog Beach has its own parking lot.

Coronado Dog Beach

Located near North Island Naval Air Station, Coronado Beach, and Dog Park offer spectacular views with plenty of fun, sun, and sandy expanses. The north beach is open to off-leash dogs, allowing your well-behaved and outdoor-loving pooch lots of room to run, play, and swim. Parking for the dog beach is at the northern end of Ocean Boulevard. 

Tijuana River and Beach Trail

What’s better than a hiking trail or a beach? A hiking trail with a beach! Tijuana Estuary includes several scenic trails easily walkable by you and your leashed dog. Some popular options include the Seacoast Trail, a pedestrian and bike path, and the River Mouth Trail Loop, where brown pelicans, curlews, and other waterfowl species can be seen. The Seacoast Trail is three-quarters of a mile, while the River Mouth Trail Loop extends for a mile. The Estuary is open between dawn and dusk, with a visitor’s center available Wednesday through Sunday. 

a man and a dog on a beach

Best Dog-Friendly Hikes

A quick search for “dog-friendly hikes near me” yields many trails from Carlsbad to the Tijuana River Valley. You and your pup have plenty of places to explore. 

Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve

As a sought-after hiking destination, Elfin Forest spans over 780 acres of natural beauty, hiking trails, equestrian paths, and picnic areas. The Way Up Trail offers moderate difficulty for two- and four-legged hikers. Dogs may enter the reserve provided they are on leashes. Elfin Forest is open daily from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve

Located less than 20 miles from San Diego Bay, Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve features scenic views, biodiversity, and a picturesque creek running for several miles. The preserve has two trails, both easy to moderate difficulty. Leashed dogs are welcome throughout Los Peñasquitos, including on the trails. Enjoy the preserve from sunrise to sunset. 

Sunset Trail, Laguna Mountains

Located in the Cleveland National Forest, the Sunset Trail in the Laguna Mountains is easily hikeable by both humans and their canine companions. With majestic forests, gorgeous meadows, and no shortage of scenic views, this trail has plenty to offer novice, intermediate, and experienced hikers. Cleveland National Forest requires dogs on leashes and is open from dawn until dusk. 

Batiquitos Lagoon

Encompassing 500 acres of coastal salt marsh, Batiquitos Lagoon is a favorite spot for bird watchers, nature lovers, visual artists, and photographers. This Carlsbad-area destination includes a scenic trail close to the lagoon’s northern shore. Your curious canine must remain on a leash while walking this popular southern California trail, which is open from dawn until dusk. 

Other Dog-Friendly Areas

Your search for “dog-friendly beaches near me” is over — and so is your search for a canine-friendly whale-watching excursion. As the only San Diego boat touring company allowing canine companions on board, Next Level Sailing invites you to book an epic trip with your best friend by your side. Treat yourself and your pup: Make your reservation today.