15 Awesome Dog-Friendly Beaches in Cambria, CA

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About halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles on the western coast, you can find Cambria, California. It is a small coastal town with about 5,600 residents in the middle of a forest full of Monterey Pine trees. Because it is in the northern section of southern California, the average high temperature year-round is 70 degrees F, with an average low of 51 degrees F, making outdoor activities very popular. 

Although its main income comes from tourism, you will not see thousands of tourists crowding the city because it is not at well-known as its neighboring cities like San Luis Obispo and Monterey. There are not as many beaches in Cambria as in other So-Cal cities, but there are some great dog-friendly beaches you and your fur puppy can enjoy. From Sand Dollar Beach to the north to Morro Bay State Park to the south, we found 15 awesome dog beaches in and around Cambria. 

Fiscalini Ranch Preserve Beach

Open 365 days a year from sunup to sundown, the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve is a pup-friendly paradise with forests full of pine trees, bluffs by the ocean, and a gorgeous sandy beach for you to explore and enjoy. As long as you keep your canine companion on a leash, he is welcome in any area of the park that is open to the public except for inside the buildings. And with over 430 acres, that is a lot of space to explore.

The beach is at the northern end of the park near the private homes, and you can walk down the hill to get to the sand. Swimming is not recommended because of the surf, but your pup can get his paws wet and play in the sand. If you like to walk, there are 18 different trails to explore too! The Santa Rosa Creek Trail East will take you to the most important spot — the dog park in the eastern corner of the preserve. You can also get to it from Rodeo Grounds Road if you don’t want to walk.

Shamel Park Beach

Go north about one mile up the beach, and you will find Shamel Park. You and your canine compadre are welcome to enjoy this huge beach as long as you keep him on a leash while you are there. There are several stairways to get to the mile-long beach from the six-acre park, where you can find tide pools full of awesome creatures, warm golden sand, and sparkling blue waters with immense waves. To note: these waves make it a dangerous place to swim, but your pup can splash in the shallows. 

Up on the green area of the park, you and your pooch can have a picnic at any of the picnic tables, play horseshoes or ball, and watch the young humans play at the playground. There is a swimming pool as well, but dogs are not allowed, unfortunately. Also, be sure to bring plenty of doggie cleanup bags to pick up anything your pup drops. 

Hearst San Simeon State Park Beach

Hearst San Simeon State Park is about a mile north of Shamel Park, and it welcomes friendly dogs as long as they are leashed at all times. It is part of Moonstone Beach. In fact, it is the only part of Moonstone Beach where dogs are allowed to play in the sand and water. It is a large park with 3,409 acres with a three-mile trail running right through it, where you can see some of the best views in the state. Be sure to pack some doggie pickup bags and extra water. 

The beach is wide and spacious, with plenty of room to roam. Keep your pup on a short leash, though, because elephant seals are often seen here. Other parkgoers often visit for surfing, swimming, and sunbathing, so do not expect an empty beach any day of the year. There are also three campgrounds with 268 campsites in total. Book early, though, because it is a popular place.

Harvey Accessway Beach

Located at the end of Harvey Street (hence the name), Harvey Accessway is a stairway to heaven in an unexpected place. And since most people do not know about this accessway, it is typically almost empty. A nice place to spend a quiet day on the sand and in the surf with your fur buddy. Yes, dogs are welcome as long as they are leashed, and remember your doggie bags to pick up after him. 

The only trouble you may have is finding a spot to park. The lot only has two spaces, so you may have to park on the shoulder across the street. It is a good thing this is a virtually unknown beach! Just don’t tell anyone! You will not find any restrooms, showers, or water fountains here, so pack in your own water and use the restroom before you go. Pack some sandwiches too, and you can have a picnic on the beach. 

Lampton Cliffs County Park Beach

Lampton Cliffs County Park is right next door to the Harvey Accessway Beach. It is another hidden treasure where you may find yourself and your dog alone for the day. However, since this is a community park, locals often spend time there on the weekends. The two-acre pocket park has a few pathways you can explore and a spot on the cliffs where you can get some stunning photos of the area. Then, you can head down to the sand and let your pup play in the water. 

Just like the other two parks mentioned above, the surf is wild and rough, so keep your pooch on a short leash and in the shallows. You will not find any amenities here either but there are some benches to sit and watch the water or to relax and enjoy a snack. At low tide, there are many tide pools to explore. You can often see crabs, limpets, mussels, and even lobsters in these small pools. 

Estero Bluffs State Park Beach

Heading south down the sand past Harmony Headlands State Beach (which does not allow pets), Estero Bluffs State Park is dog-friendly for leashed dogs. But you will have to limit your space to the southern end of the park by the North Ocean Parking Lot up to San Geronimo Creek. Pups are not permitted past the creek. That gives you an entire mile of sand and surf to enjoy! Please bring your puppy poo bags, though, because they do not have any. 

What you will find here is more than 350 acres of space with coastal terraces, bluffs, and wetlands, as well as both freshwater and salt marshes. Much of the park is protected, though as it is home to some endangered and protected wildlife like the snowy plover. You will likely see some other creatures here, like harbor seals, sea otters, hawks, red-legged frogs, and deer. Just keep your pup from getting too close. 

Cayucos State Beach

Just to the south, Cayucos State Beach is a pup-popular place for you and your canine companion to enjoy the sand and sun, play in the water, and even do some fishing, surfing, or boating. This large park is actually well-known for its fishing pier at the northern end of the beach. Over 940 feet long, people come from all over to walk out onto the pier and see far out into the ocean. It is a popular fishing spot with the locals, where they reel in rockfish, surfperch, and halibut. 

Just north of the pier is Cayucos Creek, where you can also let your dog cool off. It is also a nice place to take off your shoes and walk in the water. After swimming all day, you and your fur puppy can grab a bite to eat at The Hidden Kitchen, Ocean Front Pizza, or Duckie’s Chowder House. There are also some sports shops where you can rent a kayak or board to get out on the water. 

Hardie Park

Right behind Cayucos State Park Beach, Hardie Park is a bit smaller, with just about four acres. Another pocket park, this one, has a lot more amenities than most smaller parks. It may not be a beach on the ocean, but this place has plenty of waterfront on Cayucos Creek where you and your pup can enjoy a swim, go fishing, or float in the water on a raft. Lots of locals choose this park when they want to have a picnic or barbecue by the water without the crowds. 

They have everything you need, including picnic tables, barbecue grills, restrooms, and water fountains. And then there is the beach down on the water, of course. Pack some towels and beach toys as well as puppy cleanup bags to pick up after your pup. There are also horseshoe pits, tennis courts, a playground, and even a pool, but dogs are not allowed in the pool area.

Whale Rock Reservoir Access Point Beach

Southeast of Hardie Park and Cayucos State Beah, Whale Rock Reservoir Access Point Beach is huge, with a 40,000-acre lake. Dogs are welcome as long as they are on a leash and picked up after. You can fish in the water on the south shore, but no boats and no swimming are allowed. The reservoir is used as a water supply for the city of San Luis Obispo and several other areas, so please keep your pup from diving in. Fish here include bass, trout, bluegill, and catfish. 

Besides the water and beach, you can also enjoy miles of trails. The main trail takes you to the water, and it is about 3.8 miles of easy-to-moderate hiking. You can also find several picnic areas with tables and grills where you and your fur buddy can enjoy a meal if you get hungry. Bring your own food and drinks because there are no concessions here.  

Morro Bay Dog Beach

Otherwise known as Toro Creek Beach, Morro Bay Dog Beach can be found a few miles to the south at the end of Toro Creek Road. Your pup will be excited to know that he can play and swim off the leash here, and you will love watching him run and dig in the sand. Just be sure your pup is voice-controlled because there are no fences to keep him from going wherever he wants to. 

Be sure to bring some toys like a ball to play fetch and a frisbee to toss around. Your fur baby will be able to really enjoy a game of catch without having to worry about a leash holding him back. Pack lunch and drinks so you and your pup can spend the whole day relaxing on the sand and soaking up the warm California sun. And do not forget to bring some baggies to pick up after your pup. 

Morro Rock Jetty Beach

If you have never seen an ancient rock that is over 575 feet tall, you need to grab your canine companion and head to Morro Rock Jetty Beach! The rock is a state historic landmark about 23 million years old. It was named by the explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo in 1592 when he discovered the monolith. The name Morro means crown-shaped hill in Spanish, and the rock really does look like a crown. 

The surf here can be rough, so keep your pooch on a short leash and do not let him go out too far. During the summer, there are lifeguards but only from 10 AM until 6 PM. Most people come to surf, fish, or just see the Morro Rock. It is also a great place just to relax and look out over the water. Sometimes you can see dolphins and other marine animals out in the ocean.  

Coleman Park Beach

Coleman Park is right next door to Morro Rock Jetty Beach and offers a more mellow stretch of water in Morro Bay. Most of this public park is taken up by grassy areas with trails, picnic tables, and a basketball court. One of the paths will take you back to Morro Rock Jetty Beach. The boardwalk takes you down to the sand, or you can walk down the small hill by the parking lot on the eastern end of the park. 

The water is calm and inviting here, protected from wind and surf by the bluffs. It is perfect for swimming, launching a kayak, or taking out a paddle board with your pup. Just remember to keep him on a leash at all times and bring doggie cleanup bags to pick up after him. If you take the boardwalk in the other direction, you and Fido can go into town. Make sure you get pics of the Landing of the First Filipinos. 

Morro Bay State Park Beach

Keep going south down the sand past the Morro Bay Pier, Bay Front Marina, and Bayshore Park, and you will find Morro Bay State Park, which is also pup-popular. This is a different sort of park because it offers both ocean and lagoon waters. The bay is a popular spot for swimming, surfing, and kayaking, as well as fishing, paddle boarding, and windsurfing. Grab your board, your dog’s life vest, and a leash for a day of playing in the water. 

With 2,700 acres to explore, you and your pup can also enjoy hiking in the diverse environment that includes coastal scrub, salt marshes, freshwater riparian, and grasslands. You will also see a lot of herons, egrets, and cormorants due to the heron rookery in the park. There are also picnic areas, interpretive exhibits, and a museum. But dogs are not allowed in any of the buildings, so you will have to skip the museum. 

Montaña de Oro State Park Beach

Right next door to the south, Montaña de Oro State Park boasts 8,000 acres with seven miles of oceanfront beach. As long as you keep your dog’s leash on the whole time you are here, he is welcome to join you in whatever you choose to do. Whether you just want to lay on the beach and soak up the sun, play in the water, or hike on one of the many trails, there is always something to keep you busy. 

Montaña de Oro State Park is one of the largest parks in the state of California and features some of the most varied activities. Horseback riding, snorkeling, scuba diving (not for dogs), and geocaching are just a few of the many things you can do. There is even a campground. But if you want to stay the night, book your spot in advance because there are only 50 campsites. 

Laguna Lake Park

A few miles to the east, you will find the largest lake in the city. Laguna Lake is a popular spot for fishing because it is so well-stocked with bass, trout, bluegill, crappie, and catfish. You will see a lot of locals here casting to catch “the big one,” but make sure you get a fishing license if you plan to join them. Most anglers say they use artificial lures, worms, or cut bait, but you can try whatever you like. 

The park also has a two-mile trail that surrounds the whole lake, where you can see some awesome views of the Cerro San Luis mountain range. You can also play a game of disc golf, work out at the outdoor gym, or have some lunch in one of the picnic areas. The best part is the off-leash dog park at the southern end of Laguna Lake, where your pooch can run free with other pups. 

The Final Woof

Jump on a boat and head out to sea with Bay Cruisers in Morro Bay. Located by Morro Rock, it is easy to find and allows fur babies to join you for a small fee. Or, for something truly unique, try a tiki cruise around the bay with Lost Isle Adventures, where you can see the sea lions, otters, and dolphins up close and personal. After working up an appetite, take your canine companion to Robin’s Restaurant on Burton, where he is welcome to join you on the outdoor garden patio. Or you can try the Cambria Cafe on Bridge Street. They have delicious burgers and sandwiches. 

Photo of author
Patty Oelze is a freelance writer who is also in the process of getting her PhD in Psychology. She has been writing about dogs and other critters for about 10 years and has a plethora of animals at her home including several cats, some chipmunks, a dozen raccoons, two foxes, one coyote, and herds of deer. She and her husband have been living in the Missouri Ozarks for years where she enjoys taking care of wildlife, fishing, photography, boating, and of course, writing.

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