15 of the Best Dog Beaches in Stinson Beach, CA to Enjoy This Summer

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In this very small town of only 541 residents, you will find a beautiful wine country, vast parks, and stunning beaches. Not far from San Francisco, Stinson Beach is in the northwestern section of California in Marin County. It was named after Nathan Stinson, who bought land here in 1866. With an average high of 70 degrees F all year long, Stinson Beach is a popular place for outdoor fun, including hanging out at the beach. And some of these beaches are dog-friendly!

In fact, in Stinson Beach, fur babies are welcome at almost all of the county and city beaches and parks, with the exception of the National Park Service sections. Many of these are in the Golden Gate area on the San Pablo and San Francisco Bays. Stinson Beach has one main beach that runs along Bolinas Bay on the other side of Bolinas Lagoon. We have listed 15 of the best dog beaches in Stinson Beach for you and your pup to try out while you are in town. 

Stinson County Beach

With pure white sand and turquoise waters, Stinson Beach is a gorgeous stretch of sand along the Pacific. The county beach begins at the end of the National Park Land section of the beach, which is right at Calle Del Pinos, just past the parking lot. You and your fur buddy are still welcome at the National Park but not on the beach. If you want to hit the beach, walk north along the sand toward Upton Beach. 

This one-mile stretch of sand is perfect for you and your canine companion to search for seashells, splash in the water, and play frisbee. However, your pup has to stay on a leash at all times, and you will need to bring your own doggie poo bags. You also will have to bring your own water for both you and your pooch because there are no concessions here. Also, keep your buddy nearby since the rip currents can be brutal. 

Upton Beach

Next to Stinson Beach, Upton Beach offers a 1.6-mile stretch of white sand with Bolinas Bay on one side and Bolinas Lagoon on the other. Both sides are great for swimming and playing on the beach with your pup as long as you keep him leashed and bring your own poop bags. This is one of the most popular surfing beaches for families in the area, so you will find a crowd there most every weekend. 

However, weekdays are a different story. You and your fur baby may find yourself alone or sharing the beach with just a few locals. People often come here to fish as well. The southern end of the beach by the rocks is an excellent spot for perch, with the best times from 5 PM until 7 PM. Many families also come for the day, bringing a blanket and cooler with lunch and drinks. There are even several trails nearby. 

Bolinas Beach

Are you and your dog thinking of trying some boogie boarding? Check out the mild surf at Bolinas Beach, where all fur babies are welcome. There is no leash law, and the locals allow their dogs to play off-leash, so if your pup is voice-controlled, you can let him go. This corner beach allows access to both the sensational waves and water of the ocean as well as the lagoon. The narrow strip of water between the end of Upton Beach and Bolinas Beach is a favorite for all. 

The area facing the Pacific has more waves and surf and is typically where the seasoned surfers go. Beginners stick to the lagoon and inlet. If you want to do something on land, Bolinas Community Park is also dog-friendly, although you will have to put his leash back on. This park boasts pickleball and tennis courts, as well as picnic areas and plenty of room to roam. 

Bolinas Lagoon 

Bolinas Lagoon and Bolinas Park are also dog-friendly for friendly dogs. You will need to keep your canine companion on a leash no longer than six feet and bring doggie cleanup bags to pick up after him. Bolinas Lagoon boasts over 1,100 acres of water fed by Stinson Gulch, Morses Gulch, McKinnan Gulch, and the Audubon Canyon. Interestingly, the lagoon was formed by the San Andreas Fault, which runs right through it. And it is a popular spot for people of all ages for swimming, boating, and fishing. 

The lagoon and park are listed on the Wetlands of International Importance List for the sustainability of conservation. Here you may see harbor seals, snowy egrets, herons, and snakes. Be sure to keep your pup on a short leash when hiking or walking through the woods or brush, and do not let him bother the wildlife. While some of the local eateries and shops welcome dogs, please be sure to ask permission if you plan to visit any of the local establishments.  

Agate Beach County Park 

With two miles of shoreland and tide pools full of fish and other creatures, Agate Beach County Park is a fun place to take Fido to spend the day. Not only does this dog-friendly park have a long and pretty stretch of sand, but it also has its own private beach trail where you can see all the way to the Farallon Islands. The seabirds are numerous here, so if your pup has a problem chasing them, you will need to keep him on a short leash. 

As part of the Duxbury Reef State Marine Reserve, the beach is a popular spot for scuba diving and snorkeling, as well as swimming, surfing, and hiking. You will need to keep your pooch on a leash at all times and bring your own doggie waste bags from home. It is also a good idea to bring extra water for you and your pup. You do not want him drinking saltwater. 

Bayfront Dog Park and Beach

Get off the typical beaches and head over to the Bayfront Dog Park and Beach. Officially known as the Mill Valley Dog Park, this good-sized pup park is located on Richardson Bay with a swimming area for water dogs. The only issue is that the dog park is not completely fenced because one section of it is water. So, if your dog does not do well with recall, you may want to keep him leashed. 

You and your canine companion can also play on the beach, building and knocking down sandcastles, playing fetch, or tossing around a frisbee. The park also has some agility obstacles where your pup can run through tunnels and up and down ramps. Bayfront Park also allows your pup to visit the rest of the area as long as he is on a leash. There are picnic areas with tables and barbecue grills, a boat launch, restrooms, trails, and playgrounds. 

Muir Beach

You will not be disappointed when you and your fur puppy visit Muir Beach in Sausalito. When you get there, the first thing you will do is walk across this awesome bridge that starts at the beginning of the Muir Beach Trail. After you and your pup meander over the 450-foot bridge, crossing Big Lagoon, you will walk a little further south to get to the beach. If your canine companion is voice-controlled, he does not even need to be on a leash here! 

As part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the beach is well-maintained and has a variety of amenities like clean restrooms, showers, picnic tables, and concessions. The hiking trails are open to all, and one of them will take you to Pirates Cove, a secluded spot off the beaten path. However, there is no lifeguard station here, so you need to be aware of the waves and currents, which can be rough at times. 

Rodeo Beach

Go a little further south down the coast, and you will find Rodeo Beach. Made up of stunning pebbles in the sand, including jade, agate, and jasper, this unique patch is popular with the locals as well as visitors. Many come here just to get a look at some of the beautiful pebbles. As tempting as it is though, you cannot take any from the beach, so just look and photograph. Leave them for the next visitors to see. 

There is also plenty of sand to stretch out on and for your pup to dig in. Sandwiched between Rodeo Cove and Rodeo Lagoon, the beach gets significantly smaller during high tide so be aware of the tides. However, it is protected by the cliffs, so you and your pup can enjoy calm waters and picnic spaces with tables and barbecue grills. Oh, and the best part, no leashes are needed here, either!  

Fort Baker Beach

Located just east of the Golden Gate Bridge, Fort Baker is a historic building and grounds in the Golden Gate National Recreational Area that is totally pup-positive as long as you keep your pooch on a leash. Named after Senator Edward Baker, who was in the Civil War, the area is now a popular park with beaches, trails, campgrounds, and picnic areas. There is even a yacht club here on Horseshoe Bay. However, they do not allow dogs. 

You and your canine companion can explore the trails or play at any of the beaches here along San Francisco Bay, Horseshoe Cove, and Richardson Bay. From the Golden Gate Bridge Viewpoint, you can get some stunning views of Angel Island and Treasure Island. Although the Battery Yates and Chapel Steps Trail are closed, you and your pup can visit Battery Smith-Guthrie and Battery Cavallo, as well as Yellow Bluff and Point Cavallo.  

Crissy Field Beach

On the other side of the bridge, Crissy Field is the perfect spot to spend the day hiking, biking, swimming, and picnicking. Also known as Golden Gate Beach to the locals, your dog can run around freely from the eastern end of the beach to the Torpedo Wharf at the western end by the bridge. However, you will have to put the leash back on in a small section by the marine sanctuary and protected area from July to May 15th. 

Amenities here include restrooms with showers and changing rooms, water fountains for humans and pups, as well as a dog washing station. You will also find a cafe and store where you can pick up some food for a picnic. Whether you want to swim, play frisbee, or just sit back and watch the kite surfers, keep an eye on your pup and always bring baggies to pick up after him. 

Baker Beach

Although the names are similar, Baker Beach is not located at Fort Baker at all. In fact, you have to cross the Golden Gate Bridge to get to this pup-friendly beach in San Francisco. On most of the one-mile stretch of golden sand, your pooch is allowed off his leash as long as he is under voice control at all times. The only time you have to put him back on the leash is when you are headed to the parking lot south of Lobos Creek. 

The waters here are chilly most of the time, and you will also encounter some fierce waves and currents here, so be careful if you and your pup are not the best swimmers. Most people wear wetsuits while surfing and do not often swim. However, you and your pup are allowed to if you want to. There are several picnic areas with grills and tables, restrooms, and trails to explore as well. 

Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach in San Francisco is also a pup-fun area where your pooch can roam around off the leash from the first stairwell at Point Lobos to the 21st stairwell at the Beach Chalet Cafe. All other areas are dog-friendly, but your canine companion will need to keep his leash on. Between July and May, the Snowy Plover birds nest here, and they are endangered, so you need to keep your fur buddy from aggravating them. 

The water does not get that warm along this 3.5-mile section of sand until late July, but your dog will probably not mind getting his paws wet. Some dogs with special coats may even dive right in. However, you need to be alert because of the dangerous rip currents. There are several places to grab some grub here, and many of those with outdoor seating allow you to dine with your dog. Just ask first. 

Golden Gate Park

Since you are right there, why not take your canine compadre to Golden Gate Park? It has more than 1,015 acres of space and includes four different dog parks! The first one, in the northwest corner of the park by the Dutch Windmill and Tulip Garden, is all sand and fenced for leash-free fun. The second one is in the southwestern corner by the Murphy Windmill and Millwright Cottage. 

Another in the northeast corner is just off Stanyan Street near the horseshoe courts and features lots of leash-free space to play. The fourth one is in the southeastern section near the stadium and playground. Most of the rest of the park is dog-friendly, too, as long as you keep your pup on a leash at all times. Some of the fun activities include golf, disc golf, ball fields, a skate park, gardens, and a large stretch of sand on Ocean Beach. 

Fort Funston Beach

Just a short walk down the coastline, and you will find Fort Funston Beach, another leash-free beach where you and your fur buddy can have fun playing in the sand and surf, although swimming is discouraged due to the currents. The bluffs here stand over 200 feet tall, making it a popular spot for hang gliders. Bring a camera (or your phone) because you can get some stunning photos here. The dunes are also beautiful, but it is best to keep your pup out of them due to the delicate plant life. 

Whether you and your canine companion want to play frisbee or fetch, build (and destroy) sandcastles or play in the water, this is the place to go. There are restrooms, showers, water fountains, and a concession stand nearby as well. But you will need to bring your own doggie poo bags to pick up after your pup. And do not let your dog get too close to the wildlife or chase the birds. 

Lake Merced

You do not need the ocean to have fun at the beach! Lake Merced, which is just behind Fort Funston Beach, has over 600 acres of dog-friendly space for pups on a leash. Sorry, no off-leashing here, but your pup is welcome to swim, dig, and play all day. You and your canine companion can also do some fishing, boating, or paddleboarding in the calm waters of the lake. 

There is also a plethora of activities to enjoy on land at Lake Merced Park. You can find dozens of picnic areas with barbecue grills and picnic tables, as well as hiking paths to explore. The park is typically crowded, but it is also a haven for wildlife so keep your dog on a short leash. Next to Lake Merced but also in the park, North Lake is another fun place to picnic, fish, and paddle around. Please remember to bring your own doggie waste bags and pick up after your pup. 

The Final Woof

Want to take a cruise with your canine companion? The Blue & Gold Fleet offers a dog-friendly tour called Escape From The Rock. The narrated tour lasts 90 minutes, and your dog has to be restrained at all times. Need to buy a few things or just go browse? Take your pup shopping at Union Square in San Francisco. Some of the pup-friendly shops include Saks, Bloomingdales, and Macy’s. Or you can take your fur baby on a hike through the Presidio of San Francisco. With 1,500 acres, you are sure to find something you and your pup can enjoy. 

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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