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California’s Coastal Beaches

There’s nothing like the sight and sound of the sea to perk up a dog’s ears and set her tail to wagging—and California’s 840 miles of coastline offer plenty of fun for pups and their people. Don’t know where to go? DogTrekker.com has identified almost 200 dog-friendly beaches along the coast, with information, amenities, leash rules or not, hours and more. Click on the region below for a complete list and check out stories we have written about our partner destinations below. For directions, use the map on the listing page or download the new DogTrekker mobile app. See you coastside!

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North Coast.
Photo: Hotash
San Francisco Bay Area
Photo: jean-boris-h
Central Coast
Photo: Jen
Southern California
Photo: John Liu

Paw-tested Reader Favorite Beaches

Whether your drive all or just some of intoxicating Highway 1 hugging the Mendocino County coast, you’re sure to find many places to pull over and get some sand between your and Buster’s toes. Go slow, stop often and be sure to check out these highlights.
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Noyo Beach, Mendocino County. Legal places to romp off-leash with your dog are few and far between on Mendocino County’s gorgeous coastline, but one place you can unclip and let your pup run free is Noyo Beach Off-Leash Dog Area in Fort Bragg.
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Last winter’s heavy rains were not kind to California’s 90-mile Big Sur Coast, most of which is in Monterey County. First the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge on Highway 1 washed out, cutting off access to all but foot or helicopter traffic south of Big Sur Station. Then one of the largest landslides in California history reshaped the southern portion of the coastline by dumping a mountain of debris 600 feet into the Pacific. The good news is that on Oct. 13, the rebuilt Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge opened 35 miles of coastline that had been cut off for eight months.
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You’re sure to have a Beach Boys sound track playing in your head as you and your pup cavort on aptly named Dog Beach, the leash-free segment of 3.5-mile-long Huntington Beach, centerpiece of the city of the same name (also known as Surf City USA). Surf culture rules in this SoCal mecca for more than 8 million annual visitors—and sometimes, especially during the annual Surf City Surf Dog competition (Sept. 24 this year), it seems like there are that many dogs, too!
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You’re never far from the water when following the Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 1) through Santa Cruz County. The curvy coastline is studded with 29 miles of beaches providing lots of options for DogTrekkers. Fifteen strands are dog-friendly, and one, Mitchell’s Cove, is legally leash-free during daylight hours before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m.
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You’ll forget all about work, worries and traffic woes once you get within sight and sound of the sea. And in Sonoma County, there are dozens of places where you and your pup can splash to your hearts’ content and then bed down to the ceaseless whooshing of the restless Pacific.
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