dog friendly beaches in northern california

Planning a trip with the family can be difficult when you want to take in sights that include part nature and part amusement. However, you can have it all when you visit Northern California with its pristine beaches, stunning landscapes, exciting amusement parks, and breathtaking woods. 

With over 200 million tourists visiting Northern California each year, and the estimates likely to rise with the pandemic under control, you can be sure to experience delectable food of multiple ethnicities and exhilarating tourist attractions such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the Big Basin Redwoods State Park, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, and the Yosemite National Park.

There are times when tourists face issues when they have their furry friends along with them on their adventures. But, if you want to go around Northern California with your four-legged friend, take a dip in its waters, and create tons of happy memories, you need not be concerned as you will find out about ten of the best dog-friendly beaches in Northern California.

And remember, whenever your dog is participating in a water activity, be sure to keep them safe with a dog life jacket or other flotation device. 

The 10 Best Dog Friendly Beaches In Northern California

1. Crescent Beach 

Ranking as one of the most pet-friendly beaches in Northern California, the Crescent Beach is undoubtedly an ideal spot for your furry friend to enjoy plenty of time playing in the water or running along its white-sand shores for hours on end. There’s no denying that the waters of Crescent beach are cold, but you will find it impossible to resist the allure of the clear, blue water.

And, of course, if you’ve never had the good fortune to come across a sand dollar before, you can certainly be in luck at the Crescent beach. Not to mention, sand dollars are a symbol of peace and good fortune, so you can spend ample time here collecting as many sand dollar skeletons as you wish. 

It’s a three-mile-long stretch of sand, starting from south of the Siesta Public Beach and ending at a surprising geological formation called Point-of-Rocks. You’ll have to keep your beloved canine on a leash of 6 feet or less when you are at the beach, as it is part of the Redwood National Park. Now, the Redwood Park allows pets on the campgrounds, on roads, and at designated picnic areas. 

So, you can have a great time not just at the pristine Crescent beach but experience the clear and fresh air of the Redwood Park at the Cal Barrel, a suggested hike recommended for doggos and their humans. 

Address: Enderts Beach Road Crescent City, CA 95531

2. Carmel Beach

If you want to visit a beach where you won’t have to take a leash for your doggo, you might want to head towards Carmel Beach. Located on Ocean Avenue and Scenic Road Carmel, Carmel beach is at least a mile long with beautiful white sands surrounded by cypress trees. Carmel Beach happens to be one of the most visited and most photographed beaches in Northern California. And many magazines have titled Carmel beach as one of the most romantic places to tie the knot. 

There are oceanic and nature reserve views from almost every window close to Carmel Beach. If that wasn’t enough, then Carmel-by-the-Sea provides endless options such as the gem of Northern California, Point Lobos, Carmel Mission, Carmel Beach Boardwalk, China Cove, and Caraccioli Cellars.

This iconic beach is popular for beachfront weddings, surfing, jogging, sunbathing, boogie boarding, stand-up paddleboarding, and picnicking. And, yes, your furry friend will have as much fun as you playing catch or running around soaking up the sun and water. 

You need to understand that the waters of Carmel beach aren’t warm, even during the summers, so you need to be prepared. However, the beach allows bonfires, too, so you can have a great time chatting and singing songs with your pals and your furry friend while you warm up.

Address: Oceanic Avenue and Scenic Road Carmel, CA 93923

3. Mitchell’s Cove Beach In Santa Cruz

Located on West Cliff Drive and David Way, Santa Cruz, California 95060, Mitchell’s Cove Beach is a pet-friendly beach where your doggo can relax and enjoy the sights and sounds of all the activities around. 

And, by sights and sounds, we mean the epic marine life that you get to witness at Mitchell’s Cove beach, such as gray whales. The beach allows pets (on leash) at all hours. However, if you want your doggo to explore the beach without any hindrances, you can take your four-legged friend in the mornings and evenings.

Mitchell’s Cove Beach doesn’t receive a lot of footfall during off-seasons, so it becomes the perfect spot for peace, tranquility, and long walks. And, the driftwood to be found on the shores becomes the ideal way to play a thrilling game of catch with your fur baby. 

Address: West Cliff Drive and David Way Santa Cruz, CA 95060

4. Clam Beach County Park

Another place where you can take your best bud for some fun and frolic without worries from the authorities is the Clam Beach, County Park. Situated near the city of McKinleyville, the beach rules for pets are pretty straightforward – keep your pups on a leash near dry areas, and they can enjoy leash-free time near the wet areas. 

You can experience some pretty fantastic times at the Clam Beach County Park, where you can indulge in clam digging, biking, surfing, and camping (with a minimal fee). The white sand dunes give visitors a prime location to relax and unwind, while their pets can use the enormous expanse to explore and dig in the sand to their heart’s content.

Address: Calm BeachDrive McKinleyville, CA 95519

5. Mad River Beach County Park

Surely you must have realized by now that Californians adore their pets, so it is a little hard to run out of options when it comes to dog-friendly beaches in North California. Mad River Beach County Park is another choice that you can avail to rid yourself of ennui and boredom. 

But, more than that, you will fall in love with the packed sand where you can enjoy a leisurely walk. The river channel is idyllic for swimming for dogs, although the water is cold, and for surfers, the water and the waves are just about perfect. 

The beach is near Mad River Road, and it provides an array of activities for visitors. The beach is vast, so you can chill and relax as much, and wherever you want, there is a safe boat launch area and a separate horse staging area nearby for horseback riders, birdwatching, boating, and fishing. 

Not to mention, the beach has provided visitors with restroom facilities, tables for picnics, and a large parking area.

Address: 1 Mad River Road Arcata, CA 95521

6. Noyo Beach

Here’s a very popular beach for your entire family, including the furry, four-legged members. With over 12 miles of Northern California’s Mendocino Coast – Noyo Beach offers people and their pets an abundance of activities. 

The beach is entirely off-leash, so your fur babies can have their fill of fun. There’s also sunbathing, kayaking, cycling, and hiking for human counterparts. These activities can be done in the surrounding areas, and there are a plethora of hidden coves and sea caves to discover. 

Noyo Beach is located in Fort Bragg, right in the middle of the town, so it’s very accessible. And, you can relish the sights of the town once you’re done with the beach. Visitors are recommended to look at Nemo’s Fish Market, where you get to devour the most delicious seafood. 

The only thing you need to remember is that Noyo Beach is a bit rocky in some parts. Hence, you will need to watch that your best bud doesn’t get hurt running around. 

Address: Noyo River Harbor, Fort Bragg, CA 95437

7. Big Lagoon County Park Beach

An iconic spot for windsurfing, kayaking, and sailing, the Big Lagoon County Park Beach is an animal-friendly space too. Located near the Redwood Highway and Big Lagoon Park Road Trinidad, Big Lagoon is approximately three miles long. 

In the shallow areas of the lagoon, particularly near the boat ramp, the water temperature is quite pleasant for a peaceful swim with your furry friend. There are several camping areas that you can utilize and practice your hand at small boat launching, fishing, and exploring. For fishing aficionados, the cutthroat trout is plentiful. 

As mentioned earlier, it’s an off-leash area for the doggos close to the wet slopes and an on-leash spot around sandy areas. But, the beach allows pet parents to let the leash off their pets if they can maintain minimal voice levels. And, you are recommended to bring in some of your fur baby’s favorite toys to let it truly savor the experience and dog waste bags so that you can clean after your pooch as had a call from Nature.

Address: Redwood Highway and Big Lagoon Park Road Trinidad, CA 95570

8. Luffenholtz Beach County Park

Maintained by the Trinidad Coastal Land Trust, the Luffenholtz Beach is located two miles south of Trinidad on Scenic Drive. Now, many visitors claim that Luffenholtz Beach is their favorite beach out of all the shores that Northern California offers. That’s a huge compliment considering that Northern California boasts over 300 beaches, starting from the Oregon border to the San Francisco Bay Area.

Also, many visitors like the Luffenholtz simply because it’s clean, serene, and pet-friendly. And, if you’ve never had a glimpse of the Pacific, you can languorously walk around the coastline while your doggo burns off some of its excess energy. 

The picturesque view, the pleasant environment, the fresh air, and the ample facilities provided by the beach, such as the picnic tables, will present your entire family to relish many Sunday afternoons, making unforgettable memories. 

Address: Scenic Drive and Trinoma Road, CA 95570 

9. MacKerricher State Park Beach

So, if you have a big family and yet desperately need some relaxing time to de-stress, you might want to give MacKerricher State Beach a try. You see, you get many fun-filled activities to indulge in with or without your family. And, you will realize that it’s a place where people of all ages, even pets of all kinds, can come and be at peace.

It’s a ten-mile beach located three miles north of Fort Bragg in Mendocino County. The MacKerricher is a dark sand beach, but that doesn’t do anything to lessen its allure. There’s a wheelchair-accessible nature trail, birdwatching, biking, lake fishing, and a place for camping. 

And, yes, you must keep your doggos on a leash, but there are long stretches of sand where your pups can run. Canines can also take dips in the cool waters and enjoy seal watching. 

Address: 24100 Mackerricher Park Road Fort Bragg, CA 95437

10. Caspar State Beach 

If you’re looking to go to a beach where you can do more than just run around and eat, give Caspar State Beach a shot. It’s a spectacular beach that snuggles between Caspar Creek and Doyle Creek. Many say it’s nothing short of a piece of heaven where you have a mountain in the rear and the ocean in the front. 

But that’s not all. Caspar State Beach is a pet-friendly beach where your furry companions are welcome to stroll on this paradise’s soft and fine sands. However, you will be required to keep the leash on your fur baby.

Yet, when you consider that they offer everything from spearfishing, snorkel and scuba diving, kayaking, surfing, hiking, and enjoying the Redwoods skunk train, you will be sorely tempted to visit Caspar beach multiple times.

Moreover, Caspar Beach is perfect for folks who want to swim in the open waters. But, you will need to be wary as the water temperature can dip and turn pretty cold. 

Address: Co Road 409, Caspar, CA 95450

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Special Reports Team