Southern California, also known as So Cal, is the most popular region in the state, with approximately 24 million of the state’s 39 million residents. It includes two of the most populated counties, San Diego and Los Angeles, as well as 56 more like San Bernadino, Orange, and San Luis Obispo. It also includes the cities of Los Angeles, San Diego, Ventura, Palm Springs, Riverside, Oceanside, and Long Beach, as well as Pasadena, Malibu, Big Bear, Laguna Beach, and Del Mar.
One of the reasons southern Cali is so popular is the weather. The average high in the summer is 82 degrees F, with an average high of 70 degrees F in the winter. The sun is almost always shining, too, with an average of 272 hours of sunshine per month. Another reason for its popularity is the landscape with its mountains, rivers, deserts, beaches, and parks.
Some of the most interesting geographical features in the region include Simi Valley, Sequoia National Forest, Santa Ynez Mountains, Santa Monica Bay, Santa Ana River, San Joaquin Valley, San Bernadino Mountains, the Mojave Desert, Los Angeles River, Coachella Valley, Big Bear Lake, and Angeles National Forest. This does not even include the 425+ public beaches. Here, we listed 20 of the most dog-friendly beaches in So Cal for you and your pup.
The Original Dog Beach
4960 Santa Monica Ave, San Diego, CA 92107
In northwestern San Diego, near Sea World, you can find The Original Dog Beach between Ocean Beach and South Mission Beach. It is one of the first dog parks in the United States, which is how it got its name. That means you can bring along your pooch’s favorite ball and doggie disc for a fun game of fetch. Or you can join him in the water or watch him play with the other dogs at the beach.
They do recommend a life vest if your pooch goes swimming because of the current. There is a lifeguard, but they are mainly there to keep humans safe. The beach is almost always busy, especially during the summer, so keep that in mind. If you get hungry, there are a few restaurants nearby, like the Noodle House and Wild Things Pizza & Beer. After your day at the beach, take your fur puppy to the Dog Beach Dog Wash on Voltaire Street and clean him up.
Echo Park Lake
751 Echo Park Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90026
Located in northwestern Los Angeles, between Highway 101 and Sunset Boulevard, Echo Park may not be a beach per se, but it has a huge dog-friendly lake where you and your cuddle buddy can play in the water. What started as a pool for drinking water in 1860 became a recreational reservoir and wildlife habitat. In fact, the lake is 14 acres of space with a maximum depth of 28 feet, so it is not just a puddle or a pond.
Along the water, you will see a variety of flowers, including lotus flowers as well as ducks, gees, and swans. Speaking of swans, you can even take a ride in a swan boat. It is also the site of the Lotus Festival and yearly Dragon Boat Races. It is also a perfect spot for a picnic, with over 25 picnic tables. Be sure to keep your fur baby on a leash no longer than six feet and bring doggie bags for cleanup.
Lake Cahuilla Veterans Regional Park
Lake Cahuilla County Park, 58075 Jefferson St, La Quinta, CA 92253
Thinking of taking your pup for a swim while you are in Palm Springs? You will not find many beaches here because it is not on the coast. However, there is a lovely beach at Lake Cahuilla Veterans Regional Park where your fur baby is welcome as long as he is on a leash no longer than six feet. The park boasts 710 acres at the foot of the Santa Rosa Mountains in La Quinta, about 30 minutes southeast of downtown Palm Springs.
Many locals come to the lake to go fishing as they have an abundance of crappie, bass, and other kinds of fish. Make sure you bring a license because they will check. Although people are not allowed to swim here, your poochie is welcome to get in and cool off as long as you are not too close to the anglers. They also have picnic tables, and you will almost always see some bighorn sheep hanging about.
Oceanside Harbor Beach
1374 N Pacific St, Oceanside, CA 92054
Just minutes from Carlsbad, the pup popular Oceanside Harbor Beach is located across the San Luis Rey River between lifeguard towers 12 and 16. There is about a mile of soft sandy beach where your canine compadre is welcome as long as you keep him leashed and clean up after him. Remember to bring doggie bags for easy cleanup. The beach vibe here is quaint and touristy but not really crowded like more well-known beaches.
There is a cute little area with shops, eating establishments, and entertainment as well as playgrounds for the little humans, a pier to stroll along, and a marina if you have a boat to launch. Being right in between the north and south jetties, the water here is calmer than others. They do have restrooms with showers, picnic tables, and barbecue pits here, too, in case you want to have a meal with your pup.
Capistrano Beach Park
35005 Beach Rd, Dana Point, CA 92624
Also known as Capo Park, you can find Capistrano Beach Park just a couple of miles from downtown Dana Point past Doheny State Beach. One thing to note about all Dana Point beaches, including Capistrano, is that dogs are not allowed from June 15th to September 10th from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. When you do get there, make sure your fuzzy buddy’s leash is only six feet long or shorter, and bring doggie bags to clean up anything he drops.
It is a nice, cozy beach big enough for quite a few families and their pooches to play and have fun. There are restrooms, outdoor showers, fire pits, volleyball areas, and picnic tables as well. Bring some food and stay all day. But do not forget to bring your fur baby some extra water. You do not want him drinking saltwater. The water can be rough at times here, so it is best to have a life vest for you and your pup.
Powerhouse Park Beach
1658 Coast Blvd, Del Mar, CA 92014
Encinitas is another place where your pooch can play at the beach, and not only during certain times. Powerhouse Park Beach is dog-friendly all year long as long as your fur baby is on a leash less than six feet long. The only place your pooch cannot go is in the Tot Lot. This is just for children under six years old. They do have another playground for older kids where you can bring your canine companion.
One thing that makes this beach different is all the grass. Interspersed with the sand, there are thick areas of green grass and wildflowers. It is a beautiful place for a picnic, too, and you will likely see families here enjoying the park. If you and Fido get hungry, you can grab something to eat at Jake’s or the Poseidon Restaurant. Be sure to bring your own cleanup baggies to pick up after your pup.
3902 29th St, Del Mar, CA 92014
Located in Del Mar, North Beach, also known as Del Mar, North Dog Beach starts at the end of 29th Street and runs north past the San Dieguito River to Solana Beach. During the off-season from Labor Day to June 15th, your cuddly buddy is welcome to play off the leash. The rest of the year, you can bring your pup, but he has to be on a leash from 8 a.m. until dawn.
Your dog also has to have a license on his collar, and you should bring your own puppy poop baggies for easier cleanup. If you decide to take your pupster for a walk on the trail to the James Scripp Bluff Preserve, you will have to put his leash on. You can choose between the ocean and the river for swimming and playing, or you can enjoy both. But there are no fences to keep your doggo contained, so make sure he has an excellent recall or keep his leash on.
Huntington Dog Beach
100 Goldenwest St, Huntington Beach, CA 92648
Right in the heart of Huntington Beach is a beach that makes all pups and pup parents happy. After all, it is a dog beach, which means it is where pooches can play off the leash any time of the year they want to. Huntington Dog Beach is just off Highway 1 (the Pacific Coast Highway) sandwiched between the city beach and Bolsa Chica State Beach. That gives you and your cuddly canine about two miles of soft sandy beach to explore and enjoy.
Although parking will cost you two dollars per hour, there is no charge at all to use the beach. That means, if you walk or take a bike, you do not have to pay a penny to enjoy the sun and surf all day long. However, if your fur puppy is not voice-controlled, you may want to keep him on a leash because there are no fences here. It does have cleanup bags, drinking fountains, picnic tables, and restrooms.
La Jolla Shores Beach
8300 Camino Del Oro, La Jolla, CA 92037
If you are going to be in or near La Jolla, you have to take your pup to La Jolla Shores Park to enjoy their beach. However, there are restrictions. From November to April, he can join you before 9 a.m. and after 4 p.m. The rest of the year, he can enjoy the beach with you after 6 p.m. He will need to stay on his leash here, though. There is one mile of sand and surf to take advantage of, whether you want to swim, build a sandcastle, or play ball.
There is also a lawn area where pups and their pup parents can grab a picnic table or spread out a blanket to enjoy a meal together. If you have the kiddos with you, they can enjoy the modern playground with slides, swings, and climbing, and you can all do some fishing or play a game of volleyball or basketball. Just remember to bring doggie bags to pick up after Fido.
Shaws Cove Beach
990 Cliff Dr, Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Between Heisler Park and Crescent Bay Beach in Laguna Beach, you and your pup can visit Shaws Cove Beach. It is most well-known for its snorkeling and scuba diving, with some incredible underwater views and creatures to see. You can also go kayaking or paddleboarding with your pooch, but make sure he has a life jacket made for dogs. The waves here are usually pretty mild, but if you are going out on a board, you need a life jacket, too.
This beach has restrictions similar to some of the others. From September 11th to June 14th, your pooch is welcome to join you any time of the day. The rest of the time, he is only allowed on the beach before 9 a.m. and after 6 p.m. You will need to have him on a leash six feet or shorter and bring bags to pick up whatever he drops.
Harry Bridges Memorial Park Beach
1126 Queens Hwy, Long Beach, CA 90802
Harry Bridges Memorial Park is just across Queensway Bay from downtown Long Beach between the Queensway Bridge and the Queen Mary. With four acres in total, the park has plenty of options to entertain you and your leashed pooch while you are in town. It is mostly grass but has a rocky waterfront where your little fur ball can get in and cool off. Just be careful and keep him on a short leash because the rocks are slippery.
The park is often home to different events, concerts, and entertainment all year long. With access to the bay as well as the Los Angeles River, there is ample opportunity for you to do some fishing as well. But only if you have a fishing license. You can see the Queen Mary from here, a British ship that has been there since 1967. In fact, the ship offers tours to those with pups 25 pounds and smaller. They also have restaurants and shows to entertain you, or you can choose from hundreds of rooms or suites.
Upper Newport Bay Beach
2301 University Dr, Newport Beach, CA 92660
Those pet parents in Newport Beach who want to enjoy a different kind of waterfront like to visit Upper Newport Bay Beach, where you can find 1,000 acres of open recreational space. Your pooch will have to be on a leash the whole time you are there, and you cannot let him chase or aggravate the birds, but there is a vast area of freshwater access for your pup to enjoy. You will also need to bring your own doggie bags to clean up after him.
During the winter, you can see more than 35,000 birds stopping by the waterway during migration. But there are lots of birds that live there as well, including some endangered species like the California Gnatcatcher and the burrowing owl. The beaches where your pooch can play in the water are not sandy like at the ocean, but that means you do not have to worry about getting all the sand out of his fur.
Rosie’s Dog Beach
5000 E Ocean Blvd, Long Beach, CA 90803
With four acres of fun space, your pooch can run free off the leash in the sand and play in the surf in Oceanside at Rosie’s Dog Beach. It is right between Granada Avenue and Roycroft Avenue on Ocean Boulevard, and your pupster is welcome off the leash from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day all year long. However, if your dog does not have good recall, you may want to leave his leash on because there are no fences.
The beach has restrooms with water, pooper scoopers, and doggie bags for your convenience. Parking is metered in the lot and free on the street. It is important to know that if you have more than one dog, you will need more than one adult because the rules state only one dog per adult. Your pooch also has to have a rabies tag on his collar at all times.
901 San Pedro St, Ventura, CA 93001
Located in Ventura at San Buenaventura State Beach, Ventura Beach is also a dog-friendly place to spend the day. There is a good-sized piece of sand and grass where your cuddly canine companion is welcome in the far western section of the beach, but most of the state beach sand is not dog-friendly. It starts at Dover Lane and ends at San Pedro Street. Look for the signs or the pet parents with their pups to be sure.
Your fur puppy will have to be on a leash while you are there, but if you let it out far enough, you can still play a game of fetch or let him play in the waves without you having to get wet. Also, even though the state beach does not let dogs play in the sand, they are allowed in the picnic areas and the rest of the park space. They often have a food truck nearby as well.
Silver Lake Dog Park
1893-1899 Silver Lake Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026
Just 10 miles to the south of Pasadena, between Dodger Stadium and Griffith Park, you will find Silver Lake Dog Park, where your pooch can enjoy playing off the leash. It is at the southern end of Silver Lake at the corner of Duane Street and Silver Lake Boulevard. There is almost always a lot of pups playing here, and there is no separate area for small or shy dogs. However, with the water, most dogs are too busy playing to have any issues.
You will notice that the benches are shaped like dog bones, which gives you some great opportunities for photos and selfies. There is also a lot of grass to run around on and plenty of space for a game of fetch or frisbee. The park also has waste stations with pooper scoopers and doggie bags for easy cleanup too. Bring your own baggies, though, just in case, and you should always bring extra water.
Country Kennels Dog Water Park
25817 Washington Ave, Murrieta, CA 92562
You have probably been to a water park before, but have you ever been to a doggie water park? Country Kennels Dawg Water Park is where to find it just about five miles from Temecula in the town of Murrieta. Although it is a grooming and boarding place with private classes most of the time, they allow all pups and their pup parents to enjoy the park on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 1 pm to 5:30 p.m.
The park has a super clear saltwater pool that is excellent for your pup’s skin, as well as a sunning space with shallow water and a platform for diving. It is fun to watch the fur babies try to catch the water spouts and play in the tunnels, too. You will have to show proof of vaccinations and have a rabies tag, and your pooch has to be free of fleas.
Leo Carrillo State Park and Beach
35000 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265
Leo Carrillo State Park and Beach has everything you need to spend a whole day playing with your pooch in the water and the sand. Located in Malibu, it is a popular beach where dogs are welcome on the northern end of the lifeguard stand number three. He will love watching you build sandcastles so he can knock them down, or you can both just relax while you stick your toes in the sand. But he does have to be on a leash.
Your canine compadre is also welcome in the rest of the park except for some of the hiking and biking trails and the beaches south of the lifeguard stand number three. With more than 2,500 acres, you may need more than one day to enjoy it all, so why not stay at the campground? Just be sure to reserve a spot in advance and bring plenty of doggie bags.
Big Bear Lake Bark Park
41216 Park Ave, Big Bear Lake, CA 92315
Another place where your pooch is allowed to play in the water without a leash is Big Bear Valley Recreation and Park District, this Bark Park at Ski Beach Park. The pooch playground has a variety of agility stations, including a tunnel made from an old barrel with windows to look out of. There is a jump bar where your pooch can practice his jumps that can be adjusted for both small and large pupsters.
The fenced play area is located at the southeastern section of the lake and has a separate section for small and timid pups. After you and your pup get tired of the dog park, take him out to the lake, where he can cool off in the water. Just keep him on a leash and do not let him in the ballfield or tennis courts. There is a picnic area where you can have a meal too, but make sure you bring doggie bags.
Coronado Dog Beach
200 Ocean Blvd, Coronado, CA 92118
One of the most pup popular dog beaches in southern California is Coronado Dog Beach in the small town of Coronado. Not only is it a leash-free area for pooches to romp around in the sand and the water, but it also has some incredible scenery with the Point Loma headland and Hotel del Coronado. The beach is wide, with almost two miles of soft golden sand with navy base beaches on either side.
You will want to take a look at the map and read the signs, as there is a section to the east for surfers only from Memorial Day until Labor Day. The middle section of the water here is for swimming only, though, and dogs have to be on a leash in both of these areas. The dog beach area is on the western end of the sand, just past the creek, and is the only space on Coronado Beach where your dog is allowed without a leash.
Cardiff State Beach
2588 S Coast Hwy 101, Cardiff, CA 92007
Cardiff State Beach is a special place in the sand along the San Diego coast, just to the north of the town of Cardiff, where dogs can play in the water. From lifeguard tower number 16 to the south, your pup is welcome, but he will have to stay on a leash no longer than six feet long. Also, you will need to bring your own dog pickup bags to clean up anything he drops.
You and your cuddly buddy will not be the only ones at the beach no matter when you visit because this place is popular with the locals as well as visitors. It is a popular spot for swimming, snorkeling, diving, and surfing. You may also see a lot of families playing frisbee, having a picnic, and just hanging out in the sun. There are restrooms with water, outdoor showers, and water fountains for your convenience as well.
The Final Woof
Southern California is the warmest and sunniest section of the state, which is probably why there are so many beaches there. The good thing about this is that there is also a vast array of different dog beaches to choose from. Whether you want a scenic rocky coast where your pooch can play off the leash or a calm lake where your pup can play as long as he is leashed, you can find it in Southern California. There are several actual dog beaches like Coronado, Rosie’s, Huntington, and The Original Dog Beach, as well as a really cool water park for dogs. Just remember the baggies, water, and some sunscreen for both of you.