Northern California is filled with some fantastic beaches. The only problem is, many of these beaches are designated as state parks or national seashores, and as such, dogs are not allowed on the beach. But if you’re a dog lover looking for some dog friendly beaches in northern California, do not despair. Here are three great dog beaches where Fido is more than welcome to run off leash.
If you’re from the bay area, there’s a good chance that you know this one already. Located in the suburb of Daly City just south of San Francisco proper, you’ll see literally dozens of dogs running around and playing on a few hundred yard stretch of this long, attractive dog friendly beach.
Be aware that horseback riders also frequent this beach, so if your dog has a tendency to bark around them, this may not be the best location. I personally have witnessed some heated arguments between riders of spooked horses and owners of mouthy dogs. Also, be aware that the main access path descends about 200 steps through a steep sand slope, so if you struggle with climbing or have access issues, this may not be the best location. But if your dog is reasonably well mannered, you’ll both have lots of fun at this centrally located dog beach.
To get to Fort Funston, go west on John Daly Blvd from I-280 in Daly City. Take a right on Skyline Blvd, and you’ll see Fort Funston on your left in under a mile. Parking is abundant, and it’s free.
Check http://www.fortfunstondog.org for more information.
If you’re looking for an off leash dog beach that’s a little more off the beaten path, Dillon Beach is for you. Dillon Beach isn’t near any major cities (unless you count Santa Rosa), so it will mean a significant drive for most visitors.
Dillon Beach can be found just past the tiny little hamlet of Tomales, California, which is about 17 miles west of the larger town of Petaluma. It’s a long, flat, sandy beach that is easily accessible from the parking lot. You can walk for literally miles along the shoreline, and you’ll find every dog off leash. To my knowledge, horses are not permitted here.
It currently costs $7 to park and visit Dillon Beach. On most busy days, there’s a gate attendant at the parking lot. If there isn’t one present, permits can be purchased from the Dillon Beach Cafe, which is about 100 yards up the hill from the parking lot (you pass it on your left as you descend down the windy road to the beach parking facility).
Regretfully, little web information is available about Dillon Beach. The community itself is not large enough to maintain its own web site, and the beach is not listed on the Marin County web site. But rest assured, it remains a popular spot among locals.
The tiny town of Carmel-by-the-Sea, just south of Monterey and Pacific Grove, is famed for being one of the most dog friendly towns in America. You’ll see lots of designer breeds being toted around by millionairesses, but you’ll also see a fair share of Labs, Goldens, and mutts. Carmel Beach is a gorgeous stretch of sand that adjoins the famed Pebble Beach Golf Course (home to the 2010 US Open).
If you are lucky enough to visit Carmel Beach on a sunny day, you’ll be treated to a feast for the eyes. Perfectly curled waves often attract competent surfers. The beach itself is pristine and has numerous well maintained staircases for access. All well mannered dogs are allowed off leash at Carmel Beach.
To get to Carmel Beach, turn west on to Ocean Avenue from Highway 1 and stop when the street ends. Be advised that parking can be extremely difficult during busy days. The lot for the beach is relatively small; after that, you’ll have to find a space to parallel park on a neighborhood street. However, it is free to use Carmel Beach.
You can find more information about Carmel Beach at the official Carmel tourism website at http://www.carmelcalifornia.com.
So next time you’re looking for an off leash dog beach or off leash dog park, consider Carmel, Dillon, and Fort Funston. All three beaches offer beautiful scenery, comfortable sand, and a chance for your dog to run and play with other pooches.
Carmel California Official Tourism Site. http://www.carmelcalifornia.com. Accessed 7/2/2010.
Fort Funston Dog. http://www.fortfunstondog.org. Accessed 7/2/2010.