San Diego is definitely a dog’s town! Everywhere you go will find folks out with their pups, whether it be grabbing a patio bite to eat in Pacific Beach, window shopping at One Paseo, or hanging at the many dog friendly parks! I don’t have a dog (yet) but I have unofficially adopted my best friends pups, Leo & Sofia, so me and my children regularly have a park date. They are happiest when they are off leash and chasing each other so we have gotten to know some great spots for this.
OB Dog Beach – this one might be their favorite because of the ocean! Fun fact, this dog beach is famous for being one of the very first off-leash beaches in the U.S.! It is also the only 24-hour off-leash beach for dogs in San Diego making it the perfect spot for morning runs and sunset walks alike. The sandy stretch is perfect for letting your pup run free and get all those zoomies out. Even without a dog, this is a fun spot to go walk and watch the puppies play with each other. It imbodies all that is San Diego, sunshine, surf, and dogs! There is a beach parking lot which I definitely recommend because street parking in Ocean Beach is a nightmare!
Kate Sessions Park – okay so this spot if technically not an off-leash park but the neighborhood has kind of adopted it as such. Just know you do run the risk of being ticketed should someone decide to show up and enforce the leash rule. The good news is the patrons do not seem to mind! This is a super popular weekend spot for picnicers thanks to its stunning sweeping views of the water and downtown San Diego. The hill is great for tiring out your pup with a few tennis ball throws and you can expect pups to make some great friends here. This is another favorite of Leo and Sophia’s thanks to the plethora of friends and wide-open spaces to run. There is a parking lot at the top of the park which you can usually find a spot in otherwise there is street parking.
Del Mar North Beach – another great dog friendly beach is tucked in between Torrey Pines and Solano Beach. The section of the beach you want for your pup is the North Beach, this is 29th Street and north. This beach is a popular tourist spot so there are seasonal rules here to keep in mind. The day after Labor Day through June 15th dogs are allowed off-leash at all times but June 16th through Labor Day they are only permitted off leash from dawn until 8:00 AM, otherwise they need to be leashed. This spot is great because there is a channel for dogs to play in shallow water and lots of sandy space to run but not so much that you would lose track of your pup. Neighborhood parking is usually pretty easy too!
Calumet Park – one of my favorite little spots is this neighborhood park in Birdrock! It has stunning sunset views and grass for pups to play. It is small and next to a street so definitely be careful if your pup is a runner. This is technically a leased dog park as well, but the neighbors don’t mind and there are often pups playing off leash. Parking is just neighborhood and street but unless there are some really amazing swells you can usually find a spot easily. The neighborhood is also great for walking your pup on-leash too!
Balboa Park – Balboa Park actually has three different fenced in dog parks! Nate’s Point, Grape Street, and Morley Field. All of these offer great options for your furry friend to run and play. You can feel safe letting them run here to because of the fencing keeping them contained. Be warned when it rains these parks do get rather muddy so just be mindful unless you want muddy paws. Balboa Park has a ton of free parking lots too and offers some beautiful walking paths to enjoy on leash as well. It is one of my favorite places to spend an afternoon wandering.
Coronado Dog Beach – another popular spot for great sunsets and dog friendly walking is the Coronado Dog Beach. This spot is open year-round for off-leash beach days and is located at the north end of the beach. It has a beautiful view of the ocean, Point Loma, and the historic Hotel Del Coronado. Charming just like the city of Coronado, this is one of my favorite places. A lot of the local restaurants are dog friendly on the island as well, so it is perfect for a day trip and a cocktail hour with your pup. Parking is in the neighborhood so do bring a leash to get your dog to the beach!
Iron Mountain Trail – if you are looking to get a little more physical with your dog then Iron Mountain is perfect! Out in Poway, this slightly more remote location is a tough climb. I recommend only taking your dog during cooler times around sunrise or sunset because the hike is not very shaded and non-one wants an overheated pup! The views at the top are definitely worth the climb and you will go home with a tired doggo at the end of this! Parking is fairly easy, and the trail is not typically very busy. Do be mindful of snakes though!
If you and your four-legged friend are new to San Diego these are all definitely worth checking out! I’ll be adopting a puppy later this year and cannot wait for play dates at these spots with Leo & Sofia. I am sure my pup (and yours) will love them just as much as my adopted puppy children already do. As always be sure to bring poop bags and clean up after your pet. If your dog is aggressive keep them leashed and always be mindful of other dogs and people around you!