Located in southern California along the coast off Highway 1, Avila Beach is known for its hot springs, spas, and peaceful valleys of wineries and vineyards. Many people visit the city, but it is not as well-known as other nearby cities like Morro Bay, San Luis Obispo, or Pismo Beach. Between Los Angeles and San Francisco, Avila Beach is a small oasis of beachfront that is mostly undeveloped, where you and your fur puppy can enjoy a walk on the soft golden sand.
The average temperature in Avila Beach is in the 70s during the winter and 80s during the summer, making outdoor activities popular, so you will have no trouble finding a beach or park that suits you and your canine companion. In and around the Avila Beach area, there are dozens of waterfront spots along the San Luis Obispo Bay, as well as other bodies of water. We found what we think are the 15 best dog beaches in Avila Beach, CA, and listed them here for you.
Downtown Avila Beach
Located right in the middle of downtown Avila Beach, your canine companion can join you on this Avila Beach off the leash before 10 AM and after 5 PM every day. The rest of the time, you can both play here, but your pup will need to be on a leash. This half-mile of the beach is on both sides of the Avila Beach Pier and is very popular, which is why your pooch has to be on a leash during prime hours.
Both locals and tourists enjoy this patch of sand all year long with its golden sand and clear blue waters. Some of the features and amenities include restrooms, showers, and drinking fountains, as well as picnicking areas with tables and barbecue pits, a volleyball court, basketball, and a playground for the human kids. During the summer, you will find food trucks, water sports rentals, and lifeguards. But you won’t find any Mutt Mitts, so bring your own.
Avila Park Beach
Geared toward families with kids (both human and furry), Avila Park Beach is right next to Downtown Avila Beach along Avila Beach Drive. It is part of the San Luis Obispo County Parks and features several grassy picnic areas with barbecue pits, a playground, a basketball court, showers, and restrooms, as well as restrooms and water fountains. It also gives you access to the beach in San Luis Obispo Bay, with clean sand and sparkling water.
Because of its pirate-themed playground, the park is also known to locals as Pirate Ship Park. Here you will find toddler swings, wooden sea horse rides, and a pirate ship fort with a restroom and vending machines nearby. There is even access to the creek on the other side. Your pooch is welcome here all the time, but he will have to stay on a leash here. And do not forget to bring doggie bags to pick up after your pup.
Olde Port Beach
Just a short walk to the west, Olde Port Beach in Port San Luis Harbor allows dogs off leash any time of the day all year long. The wide and sandy cove is a bit more on the calm side, making it a safer spot for your pup to swim, and it is not as crowded as the other beaches either. That may be because there are fewer amenities here, but you will find a restroom and water. During the summer months, you may even see food trucks and a lifeguard.
Another reason it may not be as popular is because it is a bit difficult to get to and you have to park on the side of the road. Those with boats to launch, you can do that here as long as you have a 4×4. The sand is difficult for regular vehicles to drive in. Always bring your own puppy poo bags to pick up whatever your pup drops.
Laguna Lake Park
A few miles inland to the northeast, Laguna Lake is the largest lake in the city and is one of the most popular fishing sites in the whole county. It is stocked with catfish and trout as well as bass and bluegill. You will need a fishing license if you plan to try your luck here. The beach is all along the lake where your pup can get his paws wet but should probably not be allowed to splash and swim too much if there are anglers nearby.
The best part is that your fur baby is allowed to play off the leash here! There are over 10 acres of green grass, hiking and biking, a disc golf course, and an outdoor fitness area. You and your canine companion are also welcome to enjoy a meal at one of the picnic tables or watch a game of volleyball. But make sure you bring some doggie bags to pick up after your pup because they do not supply them.
Cave Landing Beach
To the east of Avila Beach, Cave Landing Beach is a little bit difficult to get to but worth the effort. Just park in the lot and take the trail for Pirate’s Cove Beach, veering to the south toward the western shoreline. It drops down steeply, so you will be happy to see that there is a rope there to hang onto. Be sure to wear sturdy shoes with good traction and keep your pup on a short leash.
The coved down here are pebbly and large with a cool cave right behind it. Around the corner to the west on the same beach, you will find another cave and a rock arch that is photo-worthy for sure! Be aware. This is not an easy beach to get to, so if you are not in shape or if you are afraid of heights, you may want to go to a different beach like Pirate’s Cove.
Pirate’s Cove Beach
Just to the east, you can follow the trail to Pirate’s Cove from the parking lot and will not have to worry about rappelling down any cliffs. The only thing you may be leery of is the fact that this is a clothing-optional beach. But you can keep your clothes on if you want. No pressure! Being in a south-facing cove gives the spot a more calm and protected area where you and your fur baby can enjoy the sand and surf as long as he is on a leash at all times.
Pirate’s Cave is one of the main attractions here, and you can explore it with or without the trails leading to it and other caves. The Shell Beach Bluff Trail will give you a sensational view of the water from the bluff, and you may get to see whales and dolphins right off the shore. You can swim with your pup as long as he is leashed, and be sure to pick up after him too.
South Palisades Park Beach
South Palisades Park is just three miles to the southeast, past Shell Beach. It is one of the most popular parks in the area for its stunning views of the water and the surrounding area, as well as its paved path to enjoy with benches along the way. Take a stroll along the walkway to get a good look at the beautiful bluffs and beach. There are several picnic tables as well where you and your pup can enjoy a meal with nice views from the bluff.
There is a central stairway that is well-marked on the Beachcomber Drive Loop, where you and your fur puppy can walk down to the sand as you get a look at the awesome rock formations and tide pools that you can explore. Just be sure to keep your canine companion on a leash at all times, and do not let him get too close to the wildlife.
Spyglass Park Beach
Just about two miles down the sand, Spyglass Park has a lovely beach and public park with more than four acres of space. Stretched out along the bluffs over the beach, you and your fur baby can enjoy the park section here with its grassy meadows, picnic areas, and barbecue grills. There is also a playground for the human kiddos, restrooms, handicapped parking, and picnic access. Drinking fountains and a sand shower are also available.
From the trail up on top, you and your leashed pup can walk down to the shore, where you will find a rocky area you can cross to get to the golden sand beach. When the tide is out, Spyglass Park Beach is fascinating, with lots of tide pools, pretty shells, and cool marine life. Be sure to bring your own puppy poo bags to pick up whatever your dog drops while you are there.
Right next to Spyglass Beach Park to the east, Memory Park can be reached by Seacliff Drive in the Shell Beach area of Pismo Beach. At the top, you can park right in front of the small stretch of grass, where you will find several picnic tables with grills and a water fountain, as well as a couple of benches to relax and sit to watch the water. It is a great spot to look for whales, porpoises, and dolphins.
The walkway to the beach is risky where the steps are, but you can find other access points nearby if you walk a bit, or you can get access from Eldwayen Ocean Park. Be sure not to go down to the beach when high tide is coming. Keep track of the tide info and visit during low tide to enjoy searching the tide pools, playing in the surf, and playing in the sand.
Eldwayen Ocean Park Beach
Eldwayen Ocean Park is just a short walk to the east and boasts 1 ½ miles of oceanfront featuring golden sand as well as a grassy recreation area. The water here is swimmable, and your pup will enjoy cooling off in the waves. Just be sure to keep him on his leash while you are in the park and on the beach. There are two stairways that will take you down to the sand, both of them in good condition.
In the middle of the park, there are benches and picnic tables with awesome views of the ocean, where you can see for miles. Be sure to bring a camera with a good lens to get some shots of the marine life you can see, like dolphins, porpoises, and whales. To see more marine creatures, head down to the sand, where you and your pooch can explore the tide pools and enjoy a swim.
Dinosaur Caves Park
Dinosaur Caves Park has 11 acres of grass, play areas, trails, and caves, as well as a nice long beach to explore and enjoy. This is a popular spot for families as it has some really unique playgrounds with dinosaur eggs, a dinosaur, concrete dolphins, and more. You can also learn about the park’s history. It began with a large concrete dinosaur in the 1940s, where people could go through the tunnel inside the dino and enter a sea cavern through the tail. However, it collapsed and was removed for safety.
Your pooch is welcome here as long as you keep him on a leash and bring doggie bags to pick up after him. To get to the beach section, you will have to go through Margo Dodd Park or climb down one of the rocky paths if you are feeling brave. Otherwise, you can get there on a kayak from one of the neighboring beaches as well.
Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area
The beach at Oceana Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area is the only state park in California that allows off-road vehicles like four-wheelers, motorcycles, and dune buggies. It has five miles of sandy beach where you and your fur puppy can play on or off a vehicle. Your canine companion has to be on a leash, but he will love romping in the sand, swimming in the surf, and playing ball with you. You can build a sandcastle, have a picnic by the water, or just soak up the sun.
The park boasts almost 3,500 acres of space and 5.5 miles of beach, as well as several miles of trails, boat ramps, geocaching, and lots of space for picnicking. If you have a board, get out on the water with your pup. But make sure you both wear life vests because the rip current out further is fierce. The beach also has outdoor showers, restrooms, and drinking water. If you want to stay the night, there are two campgrounds with almost 200 campsites.
Montaña de Oro State Park Beach
Right next to Avila Beach to the north, Montaña de Oro State Park is pup-popular for friendly pups on a leash. Here, you can find more than 8,000 acres that include seven miles of waterfront. It is one of the largest parks in California and features canyons, cliffs, hills, plains, and coastal plains to explore. The park has many miles of trails, hundreds of picnic tables with grills, and a campground with 50 campsites.
There are several beaches in the park, but the only one that allows dogs is Spooner’s Cove Beach in the northern section of the park by Islay Creek and Pacho Valley Road. This is a large section of pebbly beach where the creek empties into the Pacific Ocean, and you can find tide pools, caves, and cool rock formations. You can play on the beach or swim (at your own risk) but you must keep your canine companion attached to a leash.
Morro Bay State Park
Keep heading north, and you will end up at Morro Bay State Park. This one is a little more pup-friendly, so you and your pooch can play at any of the beach areas and hike on all of the trails. The park features boat ramps and rentals, picnic areas with grills, fishing areas, and equipment, as well as windsurfing, geocaching, and hiking. There are restrooms, showers, water fountains, and food service too, just in case you get hungry.
The park also has a campground where you can stay at one of the 120 sites. Some have water and electricity, but all of them have picnic tables and fire pits. But the most pup-popular spot in this large park is Morro Bay Dog Beach, also known as Toro Creek Dog Beach. Here you can take his leash off and let him run free on the beach and swim in the surf. It is about a mile long with soft white sand and turquoise blue waters.
Cayucos State Beach
Cayucos State Beach is just a mile to the north of Morro Bay State Park, where pups are allowed anywhere in the park as long as they are leashed. The one thing that this beach is well-known for is its fishing pier. Although dogs are not allowed out on the pier, it is a beautiful sight to see from the sand. The park is also surrounded by historical buildings like specialty shops, boutiques, eating establishments, and antique shops. Be sure to ask permission before bringing your dog into any of these places.
Surfing and swimming are also popular, and your fur baby is welcome to join in. Just keep him on the leash and bring doggie doo baggies to pick up anything he drops. During the summer months, there are lifeguards on duty, and there are concessions, restrooms, and water fountains for your convenience. The park also has play equipment for the human kids to enjoy.
The Final Woof
Want to get off the beach and out into the water with your canine companion? You can either rent your own boat or have a guided tour on the water at Bay Cruisers in Morro Bay. Another great dog-friendly cruise in Morro Bay is the Lost Isle Adventure Tour. They have sunset cruises, whale watching, and a unique tiki cruise you and your pup will love. If you are getting thirsty, go check out some of the beautiful vineyards in the area. Talley Vineyards has delicious wine as well as picnic areas and dog treats on request, and Wolff Vineyards has 125 acres with yummy wine and cheese to try.