Just up the coast is Point Reyes National Seashore, created in 1962 to preserve a magnificent stretch of coastline and the farmlands abutting it. Although dogs are allowed on only three beaches within the preserve, the seashore is worth visiting again and again. The civilized world seems especially far away at gorgeous Kehoe Beach, reached via a half-mile walk past a marsh and over a series of sand dunes.
Limantour Beach is much more accessible, and the south section, open to dogs, offers plenty of room to romp untethered. Crashing waves, bountiful shorebirds, harbor seals and the occasional whale spouting on the horizon make this a magical destination.
Dillon Beach, across Tomales Bay and up the coast a bit from the national seashore, is a private enclave with a sweeping beach open to paying visitors. Dogs are welcome here, but owners are asked to keep them on damp sand near the surf and to leash up when in the vicinity of snowy-plover habitat, which is signed. For lodging near the beach, reserve one of two pet-friendly cabins at Dillon Beach Resort or set up camp at historic Lawson’s Landing. Many other choices are nearby.
Closer to San Francisco, Rodeo Beach in the Marin Headlands is a scenic if windswept piece of dog-friendly real estate within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Dogs under voice control can run free here so long as they don’t venture into the marshy lagoon and stay clear of snowy-plover habitat and wildlife restoration areas.