10 of the Most Paw-fect Dog-Friendly Beaches in Carlsbad, CA

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Along the western coast of southern California, you can find the little beach town of Carlsbad between Oceanside and Encinitas. Home of LEGOLAND California, the SEA LIFE Aquarium, and the California Surf Museum, Carlsbad is a popular spot for tourists who want the coastal experience but do not want the big crowds of San Diego. With just over 114 thousand residents, it is much less populated than the larger city, with just as much fun to be had. 

Carlsbad also has beaches, with over a dozen within a few miles of the city. But since you are a pup parent, you want to know where the best dog beaches in Carlsbad are, right? Although the city of Carlsbad does not have many dog beaches, there are about 15 of them within 20 miles. From North Beach Dog Beach in Del Mar to the first dog beach in the country in San Diego, you and your fur buddy will have plenty to choose from. 

Oceanside Harbor Beach

About six miles north of Carlsbad across the San Luis Rey River, you can find Oceanside Harbor Beach. It spans about a mile with a marina, pier, and playgrounds as well as restaurants and shops. This is a quaint little touristy town where many travelers come to shop for souvenirs and spend a day strolling along the beach. Dogs are welcome. However, you have to keep your fur baby on a leash the whole time you are there and bring your own doggie waste bags.

If you want to bring your own lunch or grab some grub at one of the nearby eateries, you can have a seat at one of the picnic tables along the beach. Surrounded by water on all sides, you will find the San Luis Rey River to the south, the Pacific Ocean to the west, South Harbor to the east, and North Harbor to the north. Fishing, boating, and playing in the water are all permitted but in different areas, which are clearly marked. 

Cardiff State Beach

Cardiff State Beach is a fun doggie beach just to the south of Carlsbad past San Elijo State Beach. The beach itself is large, and pups are allowed to play anywhere south of Tower 16, which is most of the beach. Sandwiched between San Elijo Lagoon and the ocean, you will have plenty of waterfront property to choose from to spread out a beach towel and pitch an umbrella. Be sure to keep your pooch on a leash and bring your own doggie cleanup bags.

You do not even have to bring a lunch because the beach is packed with eateries like the Pacific Coast Grill, with its outdoor seating area perfect for pup parents and their pets. Besides the golden sands beach and gorgeous blue waters to play in, you can also enjoy fishing, diving, snorkeling, windsurfing, and geocaching. The park has restrooms, outdoor showers, and drinking fountains as well. 

North Beach

Also known as Del Mar Dog Beach, your canine companion can run around and play at North Beach in Del Mar off the leash from Labor Day until June 15th. However, your pup should be under voice control at all times and do not let him chase the wildlife. Although there are some Mutt Mitt stations for doggie bags, this is a popular beach, so bring your own, just in case. Also, do not remove your dog’s leash until you get into the section of North Beach past 29th Street. 

From June 16th until Labor Day, your dog is allowed, but he must be on a leash from dawn until 8 AM. At all other times, he is welcome but must be kept on his leash. It is a pretty beach with a nice long trail you can explore with your pup and the San Dieguito River to the south, where you can also play, swim, fish, and go boating. 

Powerhouse Park

Right next door to the south of North Beach, Powerhouse Park is also a dog-friendly place but has its own set of doggie rules you should be aware of.  From Labor day until June 15th, your pup is allowed in the park on his leash, but during the summer, from June 16th until Labor Day, no dogs are allowed on the beach. The large park features restrooms, showers, a playground, and water fountains for the public. 

The beach is clean and soft, with a few acres to enjoy. However, you should keep your fur baby from entering the playground when there are other children present. Some children are afraid of dogs, no matter how nice your pup is. Remember to bring your own dog waste bags and use them to keep the park and beach clean. 

La Jolla Shores Park Beach

You can bring your canine companion to La Jolla Shores Park Beach before 9 AM and after 6 PM during the busy months of April through October. The rest of the time, he can join you two hours earlier, at 4 PM. Just make sure he is on a leash the whole time you are there and pick up after him with poo bags, which they do not supply. You can find this beach just a few miles down the beach from Del Mar Dog Beach.

With a whole mile of soft, sandy beach and azure blue waters, this pup-popular park is also popular with local kayakers and surfers. If you and your dog have a kayak and life jackets, you should go out on the water to see La Jolla Cave. Just be careful because the current and waves can be rough sometimes. And if you decide to walk up the beach, note that Black’s Beach to the north is clothing optional.  

La Jolla Cove Beach

If La Jolla Shores Beach is too crowded, just go next door. La Jolla Cove Beach allows pups during the same hours with the same rules. So, between October and March, you and your fur buddy can hang out here before 9 AM and after 4 PM. For the rest of the year, you have to wait until 6 PM. But that is okay because that is when the water starts getting nice and warm for swimming, and the tourists typically head back to their hotels. 

This is a stunning space, which explains why it is one of the most often photographed beaches in California. It is also one of the only beaches in San Diego with lifeguards on duty all year long, but only until dark. Always check the swimming and surfing signs to make sure the water is safe before diving in. And keep him on a leash at all times. 

Hosp Grove Park

You will find the 5.5-acre Hosp Grove Park less than two miles from the city of Carlsbad on the Buena Vista Lagoon. It is full of eucalyptus groves and trails, as well as playgrounds and a sandy beach. The park has access to the water where your pup can play but keep his leash on the whole time you are there. Also, there are no doggie doo baggie dispensers, so bring your own to clean up after your pup. 

The park got its name back in 1908 from the investors who funded it, The Hosp Eucalyptus Corp. They planted over 215 eucalyptus trees to harvest for railroad ties but luckily found out that the wood was too brittle, so now it is a gorgeous park. The Hosp Grove Trail West is a one-mile walk through the woods, over a bridge, and along the lagoon, where you and your canine companion may see some wildlife like birds, coyotes, and squirrels.

Hidden Canyon Community Park

Only three miles from the city, Hidden Canyon Community Park is one of the favorites for local families and pooch parents. It is home to the California gnatcatcher, which is an endangered bird, so make sure you keep your pup on a short leash. This large park features 22 acres of grassy meadows, woods, and wetlands, as well as two playgrounds, picnicking areas, and a trail that takes you to the best place in the park: The Ann D. L’Heureux Dog Park

This fantastic off-leash dog park was named after a community leader who helped create the first dog park in Carlsbad in 2006. Some of the doggie park features include over 13,000 square feet of fenced space, a doggie drinking fountain, Mutt Mitt dispensers, and benches for the pup parents to relax and watch their canine companions play. The mature eucalyptus trees keep most of the park shaded so you and your pup can stay cool even in the summer heat. 

Capistrano Park 

It may not be on the ocean, but Capistrano Park has 14 acres of space on the San Luis Rey River, and pups are welcome as long as they are on a leash at all times. Located less than five miles from Carlsbad to the south, this large family park features a lot of amenities, including access to the river. However, be careful because the current can be fierce further out. The playground has a train theme that kids love, and you can also enjoy some basketball, hiking, and volleyball. 

The park also has several picnic areas with tables and barbecue grills where you and your fur puppy can share a meal or just sit and enjoy the Southern California weather, which is almost always in the 80s and quite sunny. There are plenty of grassy areas to have a game of fetch or Frisbee, too, and you will find restrooms with water fountains for your convenience. 

Guajome Regional Park 

Head inland to the Guajome Regional Park, where your fur puppy is welcome as long as he is on a leash. And this place has it all, including a beach on Guajome Lake, a large campground, and several trails so you can explore the area. You will find the park 10 miles northeast of the city of Carlsbad, right down Highway 76 in Oceanside. Dogs are welcome everywhere you are except for some indoor areas and nature-protected spaces. 

The park has almost five miles of trails taking you and Fido through grasslands, wetlands, chaparral, and woods, and you can fish at any of the ponds and lakes. The campground has more than 30 campsites with fire rings and picnic tables as well as restrooms and water access. There is also a fitness area right by the campground where you can get some exercise. Be aware there is a small fee of less than $5 per night for pets. 

The Final Woof

If you happen to need something or just want to go browsing while you are in Carlsbad, you can bring your canine companion along with you at Carlsbad Premium Outlets. Dogs are welcome at all of the outdoor establishments but ask first before going into any of the 87 shops or eateries. You can also bring your dog to Westfield UTC in La Jolla, where they have over 120 shops. After working up a thirst, have a drink at Dini’s by the Sea on Carlsbad Boulevard, where you and your pup can watch the sunset over the ocean. Or you can have a bite to eat at Casa de Bandini in Old Town, where they have live music. 

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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