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Your Complete Guide To Traveling With Your Dog in San Diego

a man walking across a beach next to the oceanSan Diego is known for its temperate climate, pristine beaches and loads of world-class family attractions. Sea World, the San Diego Zoo and the Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum are just a few of the appealing reasons that bring people in droves to ‘America’s Finest City’. Did you know that it’s also known for being a progressively trendy dog-friendly city? 

Is San Diego a Dog-friendly City?

San Diego ranks as the third most dog-friendly city in America. There are all sorts of metrics that go into these rankings, including pet health and wellness, outdoor pet friendliness and the number of places that dogs are welcome. 

Specifically, San Diego ranks second in pet-friendly restaurants, animal shelters per capita and pet businesses per capita. Pet and travel experts say that the city’s performance as indicated by these rankings speaks to a city that is distinguished by its “good vibes” for pets.

Best Dog-friendly Neighborhoods in San Diego

There are more than a hundred neighborhoods in the exciting and sophisticated metropolis that is San Diego. Several are dog-friendly, reflecting the desire to give dogs and their owners substantial quality of life considerations.

Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach, or OB, is home to Ocean Beach Dog Beach, which is an off-leash destination. This is a popular doggies destination, hemmed in by jetties. After some time splashing around in the water and leaving paw prints in the sand, you could head up to the adjacent Sunset Cliffs National Park, which boasts memorable views.


Another dog-friendly neighborhood is Kensington. It’s said that locals know their neighbors’ dogs’ names before they know the neighbors’ names. Kensington boasts Ward Canyon Park, full of sycamores, mature oaks and vast areas of green space. There’s a gated off-leash section where the doggies can mingle with each other untethered.

The Joyful Pooch is a business that not only specializes in dog-oriented clothing, but also offer dog park outings and play dates.  


At Hillcrest, Nate’s Point Dog Park offers about 2-acres of fenced-in space for off-leash excursions. Grape Street Dog Park is a five-acre area surrounded by groves of eucalyptus trees. It features two doggie water fountains and has restrooms and picnic tables for the doggie parents.

Sabre Springs

Nestled in the foothills to the north of town, Sabre Springs is home to Sabre Springs Community Park and Van Dam Peak Savannah Trail Heads. Both allow you and your dog access to superb greenway with natural terrain and elevation changes.

South Creek Park, Poway Dog Park and Dog Days Ranch offer hiking options as well as room to just relax among the beautiful natural scenery.

Dog-friendly Hotels in San Diego

There are scores of dog-friendly hotels in the San Diego Area, another reflection of how much the city values the owner-dog relationship. 

The following hotels in the downtown area are dog-friendly:

  • Hotel Indigo
  • Hotel Republic San Diego
  • Westin Gaslamp Quarter San Diego
  • Kimpton Solamar Hotel
  • The Sofia Hotel
  • Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego

The following dog-friendly hotels are in the Mission Bay area:

  • The Dana on Mission Bay
  • Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa
  • Hilton San Diego Resort and Spa
  • Paradise Point

The following dog-friendly hotels are in the Mission Valley area:

  • Town and Country Resort
  • DoubleTree by Hilton San Diego – Mission Valley

Dog-friendly Restaurants in San Diego

a dog sitting on a chair

There are dog-friendly restaurants all over San Diego. At Ocean Beach, New Port Pizza and the OB Surf Lodge both encourage you to bring your dog as you grab a bite. Just up the road from the beach, The Wine Pub is a cozy spot that caters to the tastes of humans and canines, too. You’ve heard of a doggie bag but these folks actually have a doggie menu, featuring entrees like chicken and rice and peanut butter dishes. The Wine Pub also makes its own biscuits.

In the Hillcrest area, Baja Betty’s is a Mexican restaurant that caters to dogs, as well as Hillcrest Sandwich Shop. If you’re looking for a spot that caters more exclusively to dogs, check out the Bow Wow Dog Bakery. 

At Sabre Springs, Yanni’s Bar & Grill and Nutmeg Bakery & Cafe are both dog-friendly. Here is a list of some more dog-friendly eating establishments in San Diego:

  • Fred’s Mexican Cafe in Old Town
  • Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station
  • Queenstown Public House
  • Cafe 222
  • Bay Park Fish Co.
  • Daybreak Island Grill
  • Bull’s Smokin’ BBQ
  • Edgewater Cafe
  • Lazy Dog Restaurant & Cafe

San Diego Leash Laws

The leash laws in San Diego are straightforward and serve to make the city a safe and equitable space for dogs and dog owners of all kinds. All dogs must be kept on a leash not to extend beyond eight feet unless when at a designated off-leash area or confined to a private space, like a backyard. 

Leash laws represent the kind of forward-thinking that bring cities into the 21st century when it comes to alleviating stressful situations before they begin. By not leaving it up to the pet owner, who may or may not have a true understanding of their dog’s nature, the city has eliminated, through legislation, a whole lot of stress for visitors and locals alike. 

The city of San Diego has uploaded a list of leash-free locations, complete with maps, hours of operation and short descriptions. The list includes:

  • Balboa Park
  • Cadman Community Park
  • Dog Beach
  • Fiesta Island
  • Rancho Bernardo Park
  • Ward Canyon Neighborhood Park

San Diego is a beautiful destination city and it only gets better when you have your furball with you. Given the lengths that the community seems to go to welcome not only visitors on two legs, but those on four, as well, it’s no wonder San Diego ranks so high among dog-friendly cities in America. With loads to do under a beautiful blue sky, San Diego truly is a proper puppy-parent paradise. Whether you want to hike in the hinterlands, rest, eat or take a languid walk around the city or on the beach, San Diego has what you need. If it’s a boat cruise with your pup that interests you, visit a San Diego sailing company website to book an excursion today.