15 Fun Beaches in La Jolla, CA That Are Dog-Friendly

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La Jolla is a coastal city between Pacific Beach and Del Mar, California, with seven miles of beaches on the Pacific Ocean. Being in southern California, La Jolla enjoys warm weather year-round, with temperatures in the 70s and 80s. Between the bluffs and the ocean, the city is a popular vacation town with so much to do it would be impossible to get bored. And with so much to do, you know there are going to be plenty of dog-friendly places and activities too. 

The city boasts over 150 pet-friendly hotels and motels as well as more than 80 restaurants where your pooch can join you for a meal. Then there are quite a few places to shop with your pup and dog parks where your fur buddy can run around and play without a leash. But when you visit La Jolla, you and your pooch will probably want to play in the water, right? So, we found 15 fun beaches in La Jolla that are dog-friendly that you and your canine companion can check out. 

La Jolla Shores Beach

There is a one-mile stretch of beach called La Jolla Shores Park Beach where your fur baby can enjoy the sun, sand, and surf before 9 AM and after 4 PM from November to April, and the rest of the year, he is welcome after 6 PM. Although he has to stay attached to his leash, he can enjoy swimming and running around in the sand with you. This stunning stretch of sand is on the Pacific Ocean in Matlahuayl State Marine Reserve. 

The park itself has an acre of grassy space as well, where you and your pup can enjoy a picnic or play a game of fetch. Swimming here is the safest place in the area because the waves are the most gentle, and there is a permanent lifeguard here. There is also a playground, restrooms, showers, and volleyball. Just remember to pack your doggie waste bags so you can pick up whatever he drops. 

La Jolla Cove

Located just south of La Jolla Shores, La Jolla Cove is a small but stunning golden beach at Ellen Browning Scripps Park. This park is the most photographed park in San Diego according to AAA Magazine so that should tell you something. The beach has the same rules as La Jolla Shores so you know your pup is welcome there early morning and in the evenings. 

Besides swimming and playing in the sand, you can also take your fur baby on a walk on the bluffs on the La Jolla Coast Walk Trail. This is where you can get the best views of the ocean and the area around it. The park is a fantastic spot to get some pics of sea lions and seals, but please do not let your canine companion get too close. While you are there, take the time to check out the tide pools to see anemones, sea stars, and other marine critters. 

The Original Dog Beach

You will find The Original Dog Beach at the entrance of the San Diego River. It is at the northern end of Ocean Beach by Smiley Lagoon and across the river from South Mission Beach. This is one of the most well-known dog beaches in San Diego, and pet parents come from all over to bring their pups to the ocean. It is a special place where dog lovers can mingle while their fur babies play together. 

The area is connected to Dusty Rhodes Park, where dogs are always welcome as long as he is on a leash at all times. The one-acre park also has a fenced dog park where you can let him off the leash. You and your pup can spend the whole day playing at the beach and the park, splashing in the water, and playing Frisbee or fetch. You can even stroll along the San Diego River Bikeway, where your dog can sniff at Smiley Lagoon. 

Cardiff State Beach

North of La Jolla Beach, past Torrey Pines State Park, and the Del Mar Fairgrounds, Cardiff State Beach is a protected beach well-known by locals for its warm water and sensational beachcombing opportunities. Your fur baby is allowed on the beach south of Lifeguard Tower 16 but here, he will need to stay on his leash at all times. All along this stretch of sand, there are cafes, bars, and grills where you can grab some grub for you and Fido. 

Nearby, the San Elijo Lagoon State Marine Conservation Area is one of the largest lagoons in the state. It is a nice place to visit, but you cannot let your fur baby in the water here, and you have to keep him away from the wildlife. It is a protected area with a variety of endangered flora and fauna. However, at the beach, your dog is more than welcome to swim and play, and so are you. Please bring doggie poo bags to pick up after your pup. 

San Elijo State Beach

Just to the north of Cardiff State Beach, San Elijo State Beach is located in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, where dogs are allowed to hang out with you at most of the park. Although he cannot play in the sandy beach area, the rest of the place is just as fun, and there are several areas where you can access the water from the grass. But who needs to swim when there is so much else to do?

There are dozens of picnic areas with tables and barbecue grills, geocaching trails, interpretive walks, and other family activities to enjoy. The park also has a large campground that welcomes dogs with playgrounds, bluff side trails, and bike trails. There are over 170 sites with several showers, restrooms, and a campground store. They even have a place to do your laundry if you want to. But who wants to do laundry while you are camping? You came to have fun!

Sea Cliff County Park 

Just to the north of San Elijo, Sea Cliff County Park may not have campgrounds and stores, but it is dog-friendly for leashed dogs. One thing about Sea Cliff that differs from the others is the public art. In fact, up to 2% of the park has public art sites where you can see all sorts of beautiful artwork from locals as well as from artists from all over the world. The skate park here is one of those amazing spots with gorgeous art splashed all over where you can get some awesome selfies with your pup. 

If you have the kids with you, they will love the playground, and you can have a bite to eat at the picnic area. It is a nice calm park with a small beach where you and Fido can splash around a bit as long as he remains on a leash at all times. You also need to bring your own supply of pup poo bags to pick up anything your pooch drops. 

Calumet Park

South of La Jolla Cove, past Windandsea Beach, you can find the small but dog-friendly Calumet Park. It is tucked into a nice culdesac in a peaceful neighborhood called Bird Rock. It is north of Pacific Beach and has limited parking, so you may want to park at a local lot and walk over. One nice thing here is that it is almost always peaceful unless there is a wedding going on. There are benches surrounding a large grassy area where locals sit to watch the sunset. 

As long as you keep your fur buddy on a leash and pick up after him, you are welcome to walk down to the beach before 9 AM and after 6 PM. Some of the walking trails going down to the beach are a little steep so try to find one that is not so bad. The one on the northern end is a safe dirt trail where you can get down there easily. 

Pacific Beach

Speaking of Pacific Beach, this is one of the most popular beaches in the area. It features a long stretch of golden sand and aqua waters as well as a boardwalk and Crystal Pier. This beach has some time constraints just like the others where your fur baby can be there before 9 AM and after 6 PM from April through October. The rest of the year, he is welcome after 4 PM. 

Evenings are the best times when the water is warm from the sun, and the tourists are packing up to go eat dinner or visit the local attractions. At the end of Crystal Pier, you will find the South Coast Wahines Surf Shop, where you and your pup can get some cool souvenirs and other items. If you get hungry, check out Kono’s Cafe or Pacific Beach Coffee. But make sure you ask permission before bringing your dog into any establishment. 

Mission Beach

Keep heading south down the coast, and you will find Mission Beach, which is a large and popular space for both locals and visitors with and without dogs. The focal point here is the amusement park, Belmont Park, which is a huge place with roller coasters, bumper cars, a speedway, and even a zip line. Your pup is welcome, but he will not be allowed on the rides. However, you can enjoy the games at the arcades and many of the park eateries. 

Besides all that, the actual beach is dog friendly during the specific San Diego city hours of before 9 AM and after 6 PM. And you have to keep him on a leash. But there is a lot to do here, including fishing off the jetty, watching the boats in Harbor Channel, and lots of shops and bars along the boardwalk. Some of these places allow dogs on a leash, but you have to ask first. 

Bonita Cove Park

To the east of Mission Beach across Mission Boulevard, Bonita Cove Park is a waterfront park with lifeguards, playgrounds, picnicking, and swimming. Keeping with the same hours, your pup can enjoy the park before 9 AM and after 6 PM from April through October. The rest of the year, he is welcome after 4 PM. Either way, the best time of day here for swimming is after 5 PM anyway, when the water is nice and warm, and the crowds have moved on. 

On the peninsula, the waters are calm, making it a safe swimming hole for pups and kids, and it is a gorgeous spot with palm trees, walking paths, and volleyball courts. There is a lot to do here, including fishing and birdwatching. You will find restrooms, showers, picnic tables, barbecue pits, and fire pits for public use, where you can cook up some hot dogs or just enjoy some food from one of the concession stands. 

Vacation Isle Park

Across Mission Bay, Vacation Isle Park is another pup-friendly place with the same hours. So, anytime before 9 AM or after 6 PM, your pooch is allowed to join you on the beach, at the park, and even at some of the natural pools. Just be sure to keep his leash attached while you are there. They call this Vacation Island for a reason, so do not be too surprised to see crowds of tourists, especially during the summer. 

There are several beaches and parks on the island, including Ski Beach Park with a vast white sand beach, North Cove with calm water and fire pits, and Paradise Cove with a full-service marina. The good thing about it being so popular is all the eateries, bars, and shops to peruse. Just make sure you bring your own supply of doggie waste bags to clean up after your pup. 

Fiesta Island Park Beach

Almost the whole island in Mission Bay is a leash-free haven for pups. Fiesta Island Park includes plenty of spots to get in the water, like Enchanted Cove, Hidden Anchorage, and of course, Mission Bay. The calm waters are perfect for kids and dogs, so you do not have to worry about currents or high waves. And the island park has 27 miles of sandy space to choose from, which is good because it is a popular spot. 

The sand dunes here are fun for dogs to romp around in, but it is also a great place for building a sandcastle. Even though your canine companion may knock it down. Right across from the island is Seaworld, where you can hear and smell the animals. Make sure you know when the fireworks occur if your pup is afraid of loud noises. There are two fenced dog parks with grassy areas and more fun to enjoy. 

Crown Point Park

Go across the bay to the north and visit Crown Point Park while you are in the area. Although you will have to follow the hourly rules that San Diego has for dogs, you and your canine compadre are welcome to swim, splash, and play in the sand before 9 AM or after 6 PM. The swimming area has a lifeguard, showers, and restrooms with drinking water as well as picnic tables with BBQ pits and playgrounds for the two-legged children. 

Take a walk on the Bayside Trail to see all the highlights of the park, including basketball courts, boat launches, bonfire rings, and pavilions. At Crown Point South Beach, there are often inflatable water floats and jumps to enjoy if you and your fur buddy can get out there. Keep your pooch from chasing the wildlife, including the shore birds, and be sure to bring bags to pick up after him.   

Coronado Dog Beach

This spot south of Fiesta Island is also gorgeous and was voted the number-one beach in America by Dr. Beach. There are one and a half miles of white sand with azure blue water where your fur baby is welcome all the time. And what’s more, Coronado Beach has its own dog beach called Coronado Dog Beach, where your pooch can run around off the leash and play in the water leash-free. It is at the northwestern end of the sand by Lifeguard Tower 6C. 

This is a popular place with the locals because it is one of the only off-leash dog beaches in the area. Another reason why the beach is often crowded is the surf. In fact, surfers come from all over to hit the waves here. Behind the beach at Sunset Park, you and your fur baby can run around in the field of grass and wildflowers. Spread out a blanket and have a picnic with awesome views of the Point Loma headlands. 

Oceanside Harbor Beach

Up north of La Jolla, past Carlsbad State Beach, Oceanside Harbor Beach is a dog-friendly place where you and your canine companion can swim, surf, and play on the beach in the sand all day long. There are no dog curfews here to keep you from visiting during the day, so pack a lunch. While you are there, check out the Oceanside Municipal Fishing Pier. It was built in 1888 and is over 1,900 feet long. Be sure to check the rules about dogs on the pier. 

Oceanside Harbor has two miles of paved walking path to explore that takes you around the whole harbor. You will find benches and picnic tables to relax at and watch the boats go by. The village here is quaint, fashioned in a Cape Cod style, with small boutique shops and cafes all along the water. You can go fishing, kayaking, or paddleboarding here too. There are even some pup-friendly boat tours. 

The Final Woof

The city of La Jolla loves dogs! You will find over a dozen dog parks in this small town, many with agility equipment and some with water features. Doyle Dog Park at Doyle Community Park is a fun spot with dog runs and lots of seating. Other leash-free parks in the area include Nobel Park, Kearny Mesa Community Park, and Dusty Rhodes Neighborhood Park. You can rent a boat at Eco Boat Rentals with your pooch to explore San Diego Bay or learn more about the history of San Diego at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. Hungry? Grab a bite at Cody’s on Girard Avenue where they serve breakfast and lunch all day long. 

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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