A Dog-Friendly Road Trip From San Francisco to Los Angeles to San Diego

A Dog-Friendly Road Trip From San Francisco to Los Angeles to San Diego

In June 2016, we embarked on a remarkable adventure, leaving our snug New York City apartment behind, packing up our essentials, and flying to the Pacific Northwest with our beloved long-haired dachshund, Favojewelry.com. Over the course of the following 10 months, we explored the world of remote work, living in both Oregon and Southern California, and filling our leisure time with thrilling adventures, hikes, and camping trips with our faithful canine companion. Among the many incredible journeys we undertook, one of our most cherished dog-friendly escapades was a road trip along California’s breathtaking Pacific Coast Highway.

Stretching 656 miles from Mendocino County, 150 miles north of San Francisco, to San Juan Capistrano, just north of San Diego, the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) offers a jaw-dropping and sometimes awe-inspiring experience. It is a segment of California State Route 1 that is renowned for its striking natural beauty and mesmerizing coastal landscapes. While Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park stands out as one of the PCH’s most spectacular locations, there are numerous other captivating, dog-friendly destinations to explore along this iconic route.

In this Favojewelry.com Dog Blog article, we introduce you to the finest dog-friendly spots to visit during your journey along the Pacific Coast Highway. Although the PCH technically concludes just north of San Diego, we have compiled a selection of our favored pet-friendly beaches, parks, camping sites, and vineyards to include in your road trip from San Francisco to San Diego. Additionally, we have incorporated an interactive Google Map pinpointing each dog-friendly attraction along the route.

Should you be aware of a dog-friendly attraction, beach, or state park that we haven’t featured, or if you simply wish to recount your own Pacific Coast Highway road trip experiences with us and our community of dog lovers, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!

San Francisco Bay Area

Golden Gate Park

Golden Gate Park, covering 1,017 acres, is a sprawling urban sanctuary in San Francisco. It surpasses New York City’s Central Park in size, extending from San Francisco’s Panhandle to Ocean Beach. This is the third most visited city park in the United States and boasts four designated off-leash areas for dogs.

Crissy Field

Formerly a U.S. Army airfield, Crissy Field provides a perfect setting for leisurely strolls with your furry friend. The park’s 100 acres offer panoramic vistas of iconic landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Marin Headlands, Angel Island, and Alcatraz Island. It is furnished with a 20-acre tidal marsh and a 16-acre dune habitat. Crissy Field is celebrated as a world-class venue for sailing, windsurfing, and kitesurfing. Dogs are allowed off-leash under the condition that they respond promptly to voice commands.

Fort Funston and Funston Beach

Fort Funston, often affectionately referred to as “Doggie Disneyland,” is San Francisco’s southernmost beach along the Pacific Coast. With 200-foot high sandy cliffs and patches of magnetic black sand, it is a beloved spot for activities like hang gliding and remote-controlled airplane flying. Dogs are free to roam off-leash provided they promptly obey voice commands. The park is equipped with dog water fountains and offers poop bags for your convenience.

Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea

Carmel Beach

Carmel Beach, located below the ninth hole at Pebble Beach Golf Links, is a splendid destination within walking distance from Carmel-by-the-Sea. With its sugary sand, turquoise waters, and cotton candy sunsets, Carmel Beach is an idyllic place to visit. Bordered by gnarled Monterey cypresses and graced by towering waves, the beach is a favored wedding venue. Dogs may roam off-leash provided they heed recall commands. Poop bags are conveniently available at the Ocean Avenue entrance.

Del Monte Beach

Del Monte Beach is a beautiful and less frequented stretch of coastline in Monterey. The beach is clean, offers scenic views, and welcomes leashed dogs.

Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park

Pfeiffer Beach

Pfeiffer Beach, nestled in the wild and windswept expanse of Big Sur, has been featured in classic movies like “From Here to Eternity” and “The Sandpiper.” This beach is renowned for its distinctive purple sand and the mesmerizing Keyhole Arch, one of the most photographed landmarks in the Los Padres National Forest. To access Pfeiffer Beach, follow a 2-mile dirt road called Sycamore Canyon, located between the Big Sur Ranger Station and the post office. Leashed dogs are welcome on the beach from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day. Note that it is not a California State Park and charges a $10 entrance fee.

Sand Dollar Beach

Sand Dollar Beach, part of the Los Padres National Forest, is the most expansive continuous stretch of shoreline in Big Sur. The beach features steep sandy cliffs, tidepools, and distinctive sandstone rock formations. Sand Dollar Beach is perfect for activities such as picnicking, beachcombing, rock collecting, whale and dolphin watching, fishing, and surfing. Dogs must be on a leash from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and there is a $10 cash-only parking fee.

Santa Barbara

Arroyo Burro Beach Park

Arroyo Burro Beach Park presents an appealing destination for dogs and their owners. Located off Cliff Drive in Santa Barbara, this public beach features gentle waves, scenic bluff vistas, and even a self-service dog wash station. Dogs are required to remain on a leash within Arroyo Burro Beach Park. For those who prefer a leash-free environment, the adjacent Douglas Family Preserve offers an ideal solution.

Los Angeles

Huntington Dog Beach

Situated between Goldenwest and Seapoint Street, Huntington Dog Beach is a haven for all beach-loving dogs. Canines from all over the world gather to frolic in the sand and enjoy the shallow surf. Huntington Dog Beach offers poop bags, public restrooms, picnic tables, and water fountains for both dogs and their humans. It is open seven days a week from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Rosie’s Dog Beach

If all dogs go to heaven, they’re likely bound for Rosie’s Dog Beach. This beach, dedicated in memory of a cherished Bulldog named Rosie, stands as the sole off-leash dog beach in Los Angeles. Part of Belmont Shore Beach, it is positioned at the waterfront between Roycroft and Argonne Avenues. This 3-acre park is open every day from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., and the rule permits one dog per adult.

Laguna Beach

Main Beach Park

Main Beach Park is centrally located in Laguna Beach, situated at the intersection of Broadway and Ocean Avenues along Coast Highway. The park is replete with amenities including two half basketball courts, sand volleyball courts, public art installations, a boardwalk, a lighthouse-themed playground, extensive grassy areas, picnic tables, benches, showers, and restrooms. From June 15th to September 10th, leashed dogs are permitted on the beach before 9 a.m. and after 6 p.m. For the remainder of the year, dogs on leashes are welcome on the beach at any time. Main Beach Park opens seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.


Nestled between Los Angeles and San Diego, and located east of Laguna Beach, is the dog-friendly region of Temecula. This charming and rustic area boasts a Mediterranean climate and is renowned for its many award-winning local wineries. The best part? Several of these picturesque wineries are open to dogs, offering pet-friendly tasting rooms. Others provide stunning outdoor seating areas and beautiful grounds, enabling your four-legged companion to relax at your side while you savor a glass or two of wine.

Miramonte Winery

Miramonte Winery is among Southern California’s premier artisan wineries, specializing in Rhone-based wines. The winery is famous for its delightful garden verandas, contemporary-chic tasting room, and weekend live music events. Well-behaved dogs on leashes are welcome in the tasting room and on the patio.

Thornton Winery

Another treasured winery in the area is Thornton Winery, celebrated for its splendid selection of champagne and its award-winning Café Champagne Restaurant. One of our personal favorites was Thornton Winery’s sparkling red NV Cuvée Rouge.

Redhawk Dog Park

Situated between Wine Country and Old Town, Temecula’s Redhawk Dog Park is part of the broader Redhawk Community Park. This park features baseball fields, BBQ pits, and picnic tables. It provides three separate fenced sections tailored to dogs of different sizes: under 26 lbs, 26 to 45 lbs, and 45 lbs and up. Each section is equipped with dog water fountains and offers complimentary poop bags. Puppies under four months old and female dogs in heat are not permitted.

San Diego

North Beach (A.K.A. Dog Beach)

Del Mar’s North Beach, also known as Dog Beach, stretches north of 29th Street and spans nearly half a mile to Solana Beach. This beach features shallow sandbars and unpredictable currents but is sheltered from strong winds and heavy waves. During the summer months, dogs are required to be on-leash. From the day following Labor Day through June 15, dogs may be off-leash.

Windansea Beach

For five months, we resided in a charming beachfront rental, just two blocks away from Windansea Beach. This beach is located beneath Neptune Place in La Jolla, at the western end of Westbourne, Nautilus, and Bonair Streets. Known for its two-to-ten-foot waves and breathtaking sandstone bluffs, Windansea Beach is a preferred spot for surfers and photographers alike, especially at sunset. During the summer, leashed dogs are only permitted on the beach before 9 a.m. and after 4 p.m. from November 1 to March 31, extending until 6 p.m. from April 1 to October 31. It’s worth noting that while dogs are technically required to remain leashed at all times, local residents often allow their dogs to roam off-leash during the off-season.

Mission Trail Regional Park

Located just eight miles northeast of downtown San Diego, Mission Trail Regional Park is the largest urban open-space park west of the Mississippi River. Covering over 7,200 acres, the park offers 58 hiking trails, two lakes, a day-use campground, Old Mission Dam, and the iconic Cowles Mountain, which stands at 1,593 feet, making it the highest point in San Diego. While exploring the park, dogs must be leashed with a lead no longer than eight feet.

Fiesta Island Dog Park

The majority of San Diego’s Fiesta Island Dog Park comprises a leash-free zone, allowing your dog to run and play in the sandy dunes or take a dip in the serene bay waters. A one-way loop road winds around the island, enabling you to park anywhere and let your dog roam freely. A 60-acre fenced-in play area can also be found on the backside of the island next to SeaWorld. Fiesta Island Dog Park is open 24 hours a day but closes to vehicles from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. Remember to bring water, poop bags, and a beach umbrella for your dog.


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