San Diego. It should mean “a dog’s paradise.” With beautiful weather year round and plenty of outdoor activities, let’s explore this sunny city where everyone you meet seems to own a dog.
Where to Explore:
La Jolla Cove
La Jolla Cove is San Diego’s most desirable spot for kayaking, snorkeling and diving. The water is calm and ecologically protected, providing a safe home for wildlife. This picturesque cove is surrounded by marine life, but in particular, the seals! Along the cliffs adjacent to Kellogg Park or Scripps Park, you will have direct views to the dozens of seals swimming and resting along the beach. Your dog will also enjoy stopping to see the “show” they put on throughout the day, filled with constant “barking” and other silly noises. It’s quite entertaining. While dogs are not allowed off leash at any time, this park is filled with tons of grassy areas for them to play (on leash) and meet other dogs. Walking around the cliffs and exploring the shore can provide an entire afternoon worth of activities. Plenty of water sources along the way too.
Note: Dogs are only allowed on the beach itself before 9am and after 6pm daily.
Cabrillo Tide Pools
The Cabrillo Tide Pools Trail is an easy hike in Cabrillo National Monument. From experience, many people along the trail may tell you that your dog is not allowed, however this trail is in fact the only area in Cabrillo National Monument where dogs are allowed and any park ranger will tell you the same. Your pooch will have to remain on a leash the entire time, but the easy hike and exquisite views are worth it. The walk to the tide pools themselves is pretty short, but it’s fun to explore and see what kind of wildlife washes up. I suggest visiting at sunset and sitting along the cliffs for a relaxing and beautiful evening.
Parking is $5.
Where to Swim:
The Original Dog Beach, Ocean Beach
The Original Dog Beach in San Diego is nationally famous and one of the first official leash-free beaches in the United States. It is a landmark where people and pets, beach lovers and surfers celebrate one of Southern California’s last true beach towns. The best part? Dogs are allowed to roam off leash any time of day! Even during the week, this beach is jam-packed with dogs (and their owners) enjoying a relaxing day at the beach, swimming in the water, playing fetch and more! A great place to meet local dog owners, socialize your dog and teach them how to swim. The waves are minimal and the water is very calm with plenty of shallow pools to romp in. Parking is free, but finding a spot in the always-crowded lot can be difficult.
Now that the dogs are drenched in salt water and covered in sand, you may want to head over to the Dog Beach Dog Wash to give them a bath. Located right on Voltaire Street just two blocks away from the beach, it will really come in handy before putting them back in the car.
Where to Eat:
Orfila Vineyards And Winery
Orfila Vineyards & Winery is an ultra-premium boutique winery nestled in the picturesque San Pasqual Valley, approximately 30 minutes from San Diego. Not only is this winery dog-friendly, but it has a large outdoor patio with plenty of tables, live music and food trucks that stop by Friday through Sunday. It’s a great spot to come visit for the day, enjoy a tasting and have a picnic lunch on their grounds. Your dogs will also be treated very well on the patio with fresh water and treats.
Insider Tip: If you visit in August, they host their annual grape stomp event complete with a dinner buffet and dancing.
Zel’s Del Mar
In the heart of Del Mar, just up the hill from the ocean, you will find Zel’s. This beautiful restaurant has an incredible patio complete with fire pits and live music, the ideal scene for a noteworthy dinner on the west coast. Best of all? They encourage you to bring your dogs! They even provide your pooch with a special dog cookie to enjoy while you dine. You’ll want to stay for hours and enjoy the cool breeze from the ocean along with the live music that plays all night. It’s definitely a town favorite.
During a day of exploring San Diego, we stumbled upon Oggi’s Pizza & Brewing Co. in Mission Valley. Just like most San Diego restaurants, they have plenty of outdoor seating, but unlike most, they have their very own Doggie Menu for your pooch to order from. Since your dog probably can’t read, help them decide which meat to order. (Although I’m pretty sure if they could read, they would choose bacon every time). Their huge patio, delicious pizzas and craft beers make this spot ideal to meet some friends and have an enjoyable dining experience for lunch or dinner. If you’re a sports fan, you can come here to enjoy watching the big game with your dog outside.
We found San Diego to be one of the most dog-friendly cities in the country. So while I have only listed the spots that stood out to us, there are numerous restaurants and outdoor destinations that are happy to welcome man’s best friend! We can’t wait to explore this city more.