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.
Right in town, Seabright State Beach is a sandy strand centrally situated between the famous Beach Boardwalk amusement park and Santa Cruz Harbor. Leashed dogs are allowed on the north side of the yacht harbor, as well as on nearby Manresa State Beach, which has a walk-in, bluff-top campground for those who like to stargaze. Dogs on tethers also are allowed on New Brighton State Beach, Twin Lakes State Beach, Palm State Beach, Davenport Beach and Rio Del Mar State Beach. Lighthouse Field State Beach (often called Its Beach) is a jewel of a place surrounded by bluffs—and, on warm days, populated by people in the buff. Locals often let their dogs run free here, but it’s not officially allowed, and visitors are wise not to tempt fate (and a very costly citation).
Last winter’s storms caused considerable damage along the Santa Cruz shoreline, most notably forcing closure of the long fishing pier and wrecked concrete freighter at Seacliff State Beach. However, nearby Rio Del Mar State Beach in Aptos is open for business as is its popular Café Rio for appetizers, beverages, meals or ocean-watching from its dog-friendly patio.
When it’s time to put paws to pillow, there’s no need to leave the ocean behind. Edgewater Beach Inn & Suites catches the breeze just a block from the sand, while Fireside Inn and Bay Front Inn are also walking distance to the beach. Another solid choice is Ocean Echo Inn & Beach Cottages, with accommodations ranging from one-bed guest rooms to multi-room family units with kitchens.
Photo Credit: @rangerthedogo