Located in northwestern California, Bodega Bay is a village on the Sonoma Coast of the Pacific Ocean. It is a small town with under a thousand residents named after Juan Francisco de la Bodega Quadra, who was an officer in the Spanish navy in the 1700s. You may recognize parts of the city from two films, the Puppet Master and The Birds. With the temperatures in the 60s and 70s all year long here, outdoor activities are popular, including beaches.
Although it hardly ever gets hot enough for people to swim in Bodega Bay, with the highs in August of just 71 on average, this will not stop your pup from wanting to splash around in the water. Most of the humans you see going in the water are wearing wetsuits and will likely be carrying a surfboard or pulling a boogie board. But your canine companion is welcome to get his paws wet. Some of the swimming spots in Bodega Bay are further inland on lakes and the Russian River, so you may find your happy place away from the coast.
Doran Regional Park Beach
Doran Regional Park, also known as Doran Beach, has two miles of silky sand right in the middle of Bodega Bay. It is a whole peninsula full of beaches and park space, with over 128 sites spread over five campgrounds. And the best part is that your fur buddy is welcome everywhere in the park as long as he is on a leash. You will also likely see some horses here, too, since they are allowed in a certain area of the beach.
If you happen to have a boat, whether it is a kayak or a fishing boat, there is a boat launch you can use for a small fee. Actually, kayaks can be launched from many other areas of the park for free if you like. Also, the park has a 1.3-mile trail at the northern end of the beach through the dunes and also connects to a boardwalk. Or just take a walk from one end of the beach to the other, which is two miles.
Bodega Dunes Beach
Across the bay, Bodega Dunes Beach is also partial to pets. It is at the beginning of the Sonoma Coast, which spreads over 15 miles from Bodega Head to Jenner Beach. The only time that your pooch cannot play on the beach is during the Snowy Plover season from March through September. During that time, you and your canine companion can enjoy the rest of the park as long as you stay away from the beach and any other area marked as Snowy Plover nesting areas.
You will find this lovely park between the ocean and the Bodega Harbor, with beaches on each side. The park has trails that will take you along the coastline to other parks and beaches. The eight-mile Bodega Head trail takes you from the campground all the way to the tip of the peninsula. There is also a short path throughout the park called the Scrub Jay trail. Make sure you keep your fur baby on a leash and bring bags to pick up after him.
Sonoma Coast State Park
The Sonoma Coast State Park has 17 miles of golden sandy beaches along the Pacific Ocean with a jagged coastline of coves, crags, bluffs, and headlands. It is over 5,600 acres and features several parks, beaches, and trails to explore with your fur buddy. Almost all of the dozen beaches here allow dogs except for Willow Creek and Pomo Canyon. Your pup will need to be on a leash though, except for areas marked otherwise.
Many people come here from all over the world to see the unique arches and rock formations. This coastal area loses from one to three feet of land annually because of erosion but the geological wonders left behind are stunning. It is also a local favorite for equestrians and dog lovers because of the many pet-friendly beaches and parks. Please be sure to bring along your own doggie cleanup baggies to pick up whatever your pup drops.
South of Doran Regional Park and Bodega Bay, Dillon Beach welcomes friendly dogs as long as they are under voice control. It is one of the only beaches in the area that allows your canine companion to play leash-free. In the middle of this town is a resort that owns a large portion of Dillon Beach, including a private beach that you cannot visit unless you are a guest. But that is okay because there are spots on the beach that are open to the public.
Local surfers and pup parents frequent this beach. When the surf is calm, and the tide is out, it is a great time for beachcombing and checking out the tide pools. You never know what you can find there, from anemones to sea stars. Even if you are not a guest at the resort, you can visit their cafe, general store, and surf shop. Just be sure to ask permission before bringing your pup into any establishment.
Head north of Bodega Bay, just past Carmet Beach, and you will find a nice stretch of golden sand called Schoolhouse Beach. It is also part of the Sonoma State Park and is named after the one-room school that was here called Ocean View School. It is one of the largest beaches along this coastline and is a well-known spot for fishing with locals and visitors from all over. You can catch salmon, perch, rockfish, and even mussels.
Be aware, though, that the water is cold, and there are often strong rip currents that you cannot see. Keep your fur baby on a leash and close to the water’s edge if you let him go in for a dip. There are only a couple of picnic tables here, but you can spread out a blanket on the sand and enjoy a meal with your pup. There are also restrooms and trash cans where you can deposit your dog’s cleanup bags after use.
Go further north up the coast, and you will find another beach where dogs are welcome. Wright’s Beach is another beach that is part of the Sonoma Coast State Park. It is the largest beach between the Russian River and Bodega Bay, with a lot of space to spread out on the sand, build sandcastles, play fetch, and splash in the water. Just do not plan on going for a swim here because there are strong currents that are very dangerous. You can let him splash in the shallows but keep your pup on a leash at all times.
They even have a small campground where pups are allowed to stay the night with you. Be sure to book your campsite way in advance because this is a popular spot with not many campsites. Besides playing in the water and on the sand, you and Fido can also explore the four-mile Kortum Trail. If you go over to Duncans Landing, be careful. They call it Death Rock because the waves have been known to sweep people into the water.
Monte Rio Public Beach
Further inland, away from the coast, Monte Rio Community Beach has a dog beach on the west side of the bridge crossing the Russian River, where dogs are welcome to romp and play in the river and on the beach. This is actually the largest beach on the southern end of the Russian River and has many amenities and activities here to enjoy. There are often events like fireworks, festivals, and float trips here as well.
Surprisingly, the beach is almost always empty on weekdays, which is good for you if you want a peaceful beach visit with your canine companion. During the summer, you can find concession stands and food trucks, as well as places where you can rent a boat or learn to kayak. Your pup is welcome to swim in the water on the western side of the bridge, but keep him leashed and be aware that there is a strong current further out.
Steelhead Beach Regional Park
You probably expect Steelhead Beach to be a popular fishing park, and you would be correct. The name given to this 26-acre park is due to the abundance of steelhead trout in this part of the Russian River. You can also expect to catch salmon if you decide to fish here. What a great menu for a fish fry with your pup! There are plenty of barbecue grills and picnic tables to use. But if you would rather just swim, float, or paddle, you can do all that here too.
Just up river from Monte Rio Beach, this is also a popular park during the summer with float trips, events, and other activities. There are also three short trails that total a little over a mile. During the week, you may find yourself somewhat alone though, but at least you can have your canine companion to keep you company. If getting in the water, be sure to keep him on a leash and beware of the current.
Riverfront Regional Park
Just a few miles up the river, you can find Riverfront Regional Park. Not only is this park on the river, but it also has two lakes. Lake Wilson is the smaller one in the center of the park and Lake Benoist on the western end is quite a bit larger. Although you cannot swim in the lakes, you are allowed to fish in them. If you want to swim, you and Fido can enjoy the Russian River. Just remember the current and keep him on a leash.
The main attractions here are the trails. The Lake Trail is two miles and takes you on a loop around Lake Benoist and to a beach on the river. The Redwood Hill Trail is just a half mile and takes you through the redwoods. There are several picnic areas and benches around the lakes to enjoy a meal or just hang out and watch for wildlife.
Russian Gulch State Beach
Russian Gulch State Beach is on the Sonoma Coast north of Bodega Bay, just past the Jenner Headlands at the end of the Sonoma Coast State Beach. The pebbly beach is made up of several spaces that are separated by headlands and rocky bluffs. The most famous feature is the Devil’s Punchbowl. This deep cave is approximately 60 feet deep and 100 feet across. However, this is not a safe place to swim. For anyone.
Another cool feature is the 36-foot waterfall. To see this awesome spectacle, you can take the Russian Gulch Waterfall Loop Trail. It is almost four miles long and takes you into the eastern corner of the park. There are seven trails to explore, including the popular one-mile Vista Trail that takes you to the bluffs overlooking the water. It is a popular spot for seeing gray whales between November and January and March through May.
Stillwater Cove Regional Park Beach
With over 210 acres, you and your fur baby can find a lot to do at Stillwater Cove Regional Park. You can find this huge park north of Russian Gulf State Beach before you get to Ocean Cove. You and your pooch will have plenty of space to explore here, from the sandy beaches to the redwood forest. It is a well-known spot for scuba diving, kayaking, fishing, and tide-pool exploration. There are also a plethora of picnic areas where you and your fur baby can enjoy a meal.
You can also try some of the three miles of trails here, from the short Cove Trail of just a third of a mile to the longer 1.6-mile Canyon Loop Trail along Stockhoff Creek. From this trail, you can see the Fort Ross Schoolhouse, which was built back in 1885. The campground is also dog-friendly, but they only have 23 sites, so book early if you want a spot.
Salt Point State Beach
You and your canine companion will have a blast at Salt Point State Beach north of Bodega Bay past Stillwater Cove. The huge park has more than 6,000 acres with six miles of coast and about 20 miles of hiking trails. The park is famous because it has the first underwater preserve in California. That makes it a popular scuba diving and snorkeling spot. But your pup will have to skip this activity unless you have a miracle dog that can scuba dive. However, he can play in the shallows if you keep him on a leash.
If you decide to take your pup on a hike, you are likely going to see some kind of wildlife, so keep him on a short leash and do not let him get too close. Some of the animals here include bears, cougars, foxes, bobcats, and deer. In addition, there are two campgrounds with over 100 sites that include picnic tables, fire rings, and a food locker, as well as restrooms.
South of Bodega Bay on the Point Reyes National Seashore, Kehoe Beach is a pup-friendly place for dogs to enjoy the sand and the water. However, there are some specific spots where dogs are not allowed. You can have your pooch on and north of the Kehoe Beach Trail as well as the roads and trails in the Niman Ranch area south of the Commonweal Entrance Road. The paths are mostly paved, but some are in cattle pastures, so be alert and keep your canine companion on a leash at all times.
In fact, your fur baby is welcome at all the beaches, from Kehoe to Tomales Beach at Tomales Elk Reserve. You cannot bring dogs into the reserve at any point. Your pooch will love the walk through the marsh and sand dunes as well as along the ocean and creek. Just remember to keep him away from the wildlife, especially in the snowy plover areas, which are clearly marked.
Point Reyes Beach
Point Reyes Beach, which is also known as the Great Beach, has more than 71,000 acres of shoreline preserve and 80 miles of beaches. However, you cannot bring your fur baby north of the North Beach entrance. Some of the beaches are easy to get to, with sandy spots and sheltered areas like Drakes Bay. It has calmer waters where it is safer to swim. But you still have to keep your pup in the shallows and on a leash the whole time you are there.
Although pets are not allowed at the lighthouse, you can, however, let your dog out to walk in the parking lot and on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, where you can see the historic building from 1870. The park does have a bunch of picnic areas with tables, and you will often see seals and sea lions in the distance. Make sure you keep your pup away from them.
Also, on Point Reyes Peninsula, Limantour Beach is just to the east between the calm waters of Drakes Bay and the Limantour Estuary behind it. Between Drakes Beach and Santa Maria Beach, Limantour boasts almost four miles of sandy waterfront where your pup can get in the water and play, and so can you! You will have to keep him on a leash, but you can both swim around the bay if it is warm enough. Remember, in these areas, it does not get very warm, even in the summer.
The dog-friendly area is from the main parking lot along two miles to the southeast. This is another great place to hike, and you will often be able to spot some seals and whales out in the water. During the spring, you may even see a gray whale guiding their babies along the shore. Please do not approach them or let your dog to get close. And always bring doggie waste bags to clean up after your pup.
The Final Woof
If you are searching for a dog park where you can let your pooch play off the leash with other fur babies, Bodega Bay has several. The Ragle Ranch Regional Park has a fenced dog park with an agility course with special small dog hours from 11 AM to noon and from 3 PM to 4 PM. Rincon Valley Community Dog Park is also quite popular and even has a swimming pond. Need to shop? Windsor Town Green has more than four acres of shops to peruse, with many that welcome dogs. Do ask before entering, though. Hungry? The Oxbow allows you to dine with your canine companion in its outdoor seating area. They have a variety of great food, from smoked chicken to burgers.