Best dog-friendly vacation spots in California

Two dogs laying on a bed together while staying at a pet-friendly vacation rental in California.

Delicious food, golden beaches, and that endless summer feeling—California makes a perfect vacation spot for everyone, including your dog. No one should miss out on vacation, but luckily California is full of dog-friendly activities and spaces for you two to enjoy together. From the northern coast all the way to the southern tip of the Golden State, find dog beaches, national parks, outdoor dining, and, of course, pet-friendly vacation homes for your getaway. Don matching sunglasses and relax along the beaches of San Diego or ruff it by Lake Tahoe one hiking trail at a time—the adventure is up to you.

Here is our list of the most dog-friendly cities in California for you to get out and explore. Pack up your suitcases and don’t forget Fido’s favorite toy—the fun begins right here.


Northern California


The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco

San Francisco Bay Area

Frequently ranked as one of the most dog-friendly cities in America, San Francisco offers plenty of views, beaches, and parks for you and your pup to enjoy together. If you prefer to bring Fido with you throughout the day, you’ll enjoy outdoor dining spaces and relaxed shopping centers—not to mention the city’s Golden State Dog Park, which has reopened after a $2.4 million renovation and is ready for play.

Outside the city, head over to the Presidio and ramble over 1,500 acres of scenic trails (with leash required and off-leash routes). For playtime closer to the water, dog owners flock to Crissy Field or stroll the boardwalk at Fisherman’s Wharf.

View of Lake Tahoe from the shoreline.

South Lake Tahoe

Looking for a lakeside getaway both you and your pooch will love? South Lake Tahoe is an exceptionally dog-friendly vacation spot, not only in the number of activities there are to enjoy but in pet-friendly accommodations where you can cozy up together. Snag a lakehouse by Camp Richardson or the Tallac Shoreline, where you can relax along the dog beaches, though leashes are still required.

Pick up some treats at Dog, Dog, Cat, walk the entire lake on the Tahoe Rim Trail, and cool off with a refreshing dip in the water. Wind down the evening joining your dog for a nap by the fireplace.

View of the Pacific Ocean in Mendocino, CA.

Mendocino

Rugged coastlines, botanical gardens, and wine country—what more could you ask for? Blaze your own trail with a pair of paw prints by your side in Mendocino. Start your morning at one of the many dog-friendly cafes before you step into the lush treeline at Mendocino Headlands State Park. In the afternoon, play a round of catch at Mendocino Dog Park, savor the view at Point Cabrillo Light Station State Historic Park, or board the dog-friendly charter boat at All Aboard Adventures.

Other must-see spots in this area include the Mendocino Ocean Botanical Garden, the Skunk Train Fort Bragg, and Russian Gulch State Park—each welcome to dogs on leashes. For off-leash exploring, head to Noyo Beach and enjoy some sandy paws.


Southern California


The back patio of a Newport Beach, CA vacation rental during a sunset.

Newport Beach

Sandy paws are welcome in the dog-friendly town of Newport Beach, just a stone’s throw from Irvine. The beach itself allows four-legged friends on leashes before 10 AM and after 4:30 PM, so you can start and end your days chasing the tide or throwing a frisbee. For more fun by the water, head to Corona Del Mar State Beach or board a pet-friendly ferry tour with Fun Zone Boat Company.

Be sure to swing by Newport Beach Dog Park for playtime with other dogs. When it comes time to chow down, you’ll have no trouble searching for an outdoor eatery where you can both relax, whether at a brewery, grill, or oceanfront cafe.

Image of a pet-friendly vacation rental in Los Angeles with a pool.

Los Angeles

The city of angels is known for its Hollywood magic, celebrity luxury, fabulous beaches, and its reputation as one of the most dog-friendly vacations in California. Live like a local and bring your pup along for every adventure—whether indulging in some retail therapy at outdoor shopping malls, soaking up the sun at Venice Beach, or stretching your legs at Griffith Park.

Los Angeles is home to a swath of outdoor restaurants, from cafes to fine dining, so no matter what you’re craving, you’re sure to find a spot where Fido can join you. Among other favorite dog-friendly activities, be sure to grab a photo together near the Hollywood sign, stroll the Santa Monica Pier, and make a splash at Rosie’s Dog Beach.

The front of a pet-friendly cabin rental inBig Bear, CA covered in show.

Big Bear Lake

Pack your hiking boots and water bottles for two as you head out to the mountains of Big Bear Lake. Here, you’ll see plenty of pets joining their families for an outdoor adventure, so there’s no shortage of dog-friendly getaways for you to call home for a while. Whether skiing, boating, hiking, or having fun by the water, you’re in for a tail-wagging time. All of the beaches along Highway 38 in Big Bear Lake are dog-friendly, so feel free to beach hop as you please.

In addition, Meadow Park is a popular dog park for making new furry friends and many of the shops along Big Bear Village are pet-friendly. Smell the forest’s fresh air, sightsee downtown, and bring your pup on a kayak ride (if they’ve mastered sitting and staying, that is.)

The front exterior of a pet-friendly vacation rental in Oceanside, CA

Oceanside

Hang loose or hang out with your pup in laid-back southern California. The dog-friendly city of Oceanside is no stranger to seeing pets come along for the ride. Grab some grub by the beach as you watch the tide roll in, take a fun tour through town by Wheel Fun Rentals, or catch a wave at Cardiff State Beach. Poinsettia Dog Park and the Outlets at San Clemente are also popular hangouts for dog owners.

While there are plenty of dog parks and dog beaches to explore, shake up your plans by wine tasting at Beach House Winery or grabbing a bite at Mikkeller Brewing San Diego (both dog-friendly spots). At the end of an exciting day, watch the sunset by your beachfront home or settle into a good book by the outdoor pool.

California dog-friendly vacations FAQ

Catch a wave or lounge out by the water at southern California beaches like Coronado Dog Beach in Coronado, Huntington Dog Beach in Huntington Beach, Ocean Beach Dog Beach in San Diego, and Arroyo Burro Beach in Santa Barbara.

Bring your dog along for a beach day at northern California beaches like Crescent Beach in Crescent City, Noyo Beach in Fort Bragg, and Portuguese Beach in Mendocino.

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