Traveling in Style at Ocean Beach. (CC) torbakhopper
If your dog has a reliable recall and can be trusted not to jump on people, bring her to Ocean Beach, a four-mile strip of sand at the foot of Golden Gate Park. The section between stairwells 1 and 21 is off-leash territory, and dogs go wild chasing waves, fetching balls and dodging the throngs of humans who congregate here on weekends.
When you’re ready for a break, head just across the Great Highway to the Park Chalet Garden Restaurant, where your sandy pup is welcome to join you at an outdoor table. But don’t stop here: head out again to visit the ruins of Sutro Baths, one of the most haunting sites in San Francisco to explore with your dog.
Sutro Baths was an extravagant, cliff-side public bathhouse opened in 1896 and destroyed by fire as it was being demolished in 1966. Enjoy the labyrinthine structure, stairways to nowhere, wildflowers and gnarly cypress trees, but don’t turn your back to the water. A sign warns of getting thrown off the rocks by crashing waves, and the threat is as real for your dog as it is for you.
Back at the top, cross Point Lobos Avenue and visit Sutro Heights Park, where mining and real estate magnate Adolph Sutro, creator of the baths, once lived. It’s a gem of a green space with spectacular ocean views, the ruins of Sutro’s mansion, a statue of Diana and other attractions to ponder. Signage tells the story of the once-grand Victorian estate with gardens, a conservatory and hundreds of pieces of statuary.