Are you looking for dog beaches near San Francisco? I moved to SF with three dogs and struggled to figure out which beaches permitted dogs and what the rules were. But as a dog parent and pet-friendly family photographer, I did the homework, and I’m happy to share!

Keep in mind that rules, water quality, and ocean conditions change constantly. Please consult the official location webpages for current rules and regulations, and use your own judgment as to the safety of off-leash dog play or swimming at all locations. 

What beaches are dog friendly in San Francisco?

Here are all the dog-friendly beaches within the San Francisco city limits.

  • Crissy Field
  • Baker Beach
  • Fort Funston
  • Ocean Beach
  • Land’s End
  • Mile Rock
  • Crane Cove Park
  • Candlestick Point

You can read more about each dog beach below. A lot of these beaches are part of the Golden Gate National Recreation area. Here are their official current rules concerning pets.

Man squeezes baby to cheek in front of sunset and rocky beach.

I’m David, and I photograph Bay Area families that are super proud of where they live. My easygoing presence puts everyone at ease, and I focus on candid emotion and moments of connection. No posing, no stress.

Off-leash dog beaches

Crissy Field

Click for directions: East Beach Parking, West Beach Parking

Effort: Easy

Crissy Field includes a large area, but both the east and west beaches allow for off-leash dogs. Just inside the Golden Gate Bridge, this is an incredibly beautiful spot. And being situated inside the mouth of the Bay, Crissy Field tends to have small surf (especially the west beach), making it a good place for dogs to swim. Parking is easy; metered for the west beach, and free for the east beach. 

The east beach is generally windier and can be busy with kitesurfers and tourists, but if you walk west of the parking area the crowds dissipate quickly. The East Beach lawn is also an off-leash area for dogs.

Baker Beach

Click for directions: Main Parking Lot, Sand Ladder Stairs Parking

Effort: Easy

Parents and young son smile at pet dog while sitting on a beach blanket in front of the sunset.

Baker Beach is one of San Francisco’s best dog-friendly beaches. The views of the Golden Gate Bridge from Baker Beach are incredible. Dogs are allowed off-leash north (towards the Golden Gate Bridge) of Lobos Creek, but leashes are required to the south. For reference, most of the parking areas for Baker are north of Lobos Creek (off-leash). Swimming is unsafe due to dangerous waves and undertows.

There is ample parking for Baker Beach, but it can fill quickly on sunny weekends. You can also park at the top of the Sand Ladder stairs if you hope to avoid most of the crowds. 

Are you the one who always takes the pictures?

You deserve to be in photos with your family

Fort Funston Beach

Click for directions: Main Parking Area, Northern Access Pullout

Effort: Moderate

Fort Funston is San Francisco’s most famous dog beach. In fact, it’s where lots of professional dog walkers bring their furry customers. If your dog is leash reactive or has a hard time with other dogs, this is not your spot. But if your dog enjoys meeting new friends, definitely give Funston a try.

What makes Fort Funston beach unique is the hike down and the seclusion of the beach. Sandwiched between high cliffs and the Pacific Ocean, there aren’t any roads or vehicles to worry about. While it’s a moderate distance down to the beach, the trail is steep and sandy. 

Ocean Beach from the north end to Stairwell 21

Click here for directions: North End Parking

Effort: Easy

Ocean Beach is San Francisco’s largest beach, and the whole thing is pet friendly. But for most of the year, only the northern end permits off-leash play. The beach is super wide, so it’s great for dogs with all the zoomies. It is also perfect for frisbee, fetch, or even a run on the beach with your pup. 

Ocean Beach is a great base camp for a day at the beach with friends. Just across the street from the beach parking is Park Chalet, the outdoor and dog friendly portion of the Beach Chalet restaurant. With brunch, lunch, afternoon snacks, and a full bar, they have the perfect grassy lawn for winding down after a day of sunbathing or surfing or fishing. 

If you are looking for more general information on accessing and enjoying Ocean Beach, check out my Ocean Beach location guide!

Land’s End

Click for directions: Main Parking Area

Effort: Moderate

As a San Francisco family photographer, I spend lots of time at Lands End. Its beauty is unmatched for sunset photography. Land’s End includes the Sutro Baths as well as the trail to Eagle Point lookout (near China Beach), but we’re focused on the dog-friendly strand right below the parking lot (down the long staircase).

One really important thing to mention is that this beach really only exists on lower tides. Here’s an easy way to check today’s tides near Lands End. I would suggest planning your visit when the tide is below 2 feet. 

Mile Rock Beach

Click for directions: Park here, hike to here

Effort: Hard

Technically part of the Land’s End complex, Mile Rock deserves special attention. Due to the longer walk (0.5-1 mile) and the steep trail down to the beach, it sees way less traffic than any other dog beach in SF. The views of the SF Bay entrance and the Marin Headlands are stunning. You can access it from numerous trailheads, but the El Camino Del Mar parking area is the quickest. 

Mile Rock also prefers a lower tide, so I would follow the instructions for Land’s End Beach regarding when to visit. I would also suggest proper hiking footwear for the approach. And if you’re looking for a unique view of the Golden Gate Bridge, this Lands End Lookout is a little treacherous, but awesome!

Rodeo Beach

Click for directions: North Rodeo Parking, South Rodeo Parking, South Rodeo Beach

Effort: Easy (North) or Moderate (South)

Rodeo Beach is in Marin County, making it a fun afternoon trip with the dog.  The sand is really dark, giving the place an exotic feel. The North (main) Beach is easily accessed and pretty large, but can be a bit crowded on weekends. The South Beach is a low tide-only location and requires a short hike to get there. It is also known for being clothing optional. 

Rodeo is west facing, making it perfect for sunset picnics or photos with your pet. It is also the starting point for an extensive trail network throughout the Marin Headlands. 

Muir Beach

Click for directions: Parking Area

Effort: Easy

Muir Beach is a gem. Hemmed by coastal bluffs on either side, this medium-sized beach has something for all dog owners. Just make sure to keep them on leash in the parking and picnic areas.

If your dog is well behaved, get there early on a weekend to secure a parking spot and enjoy an afternoon barbecue with your friends and family and the pups too. If you are looking for a more empty space to let your dogs explore and go wild, weekday mornings are the play.

If you are looking for a hike, the Pirate’s Cove trail heading south from Muir Beach is dog friendly (leashed).

Esplanade Beach – north end

Click for directions: Top of the Trail

Effort: medium

Esplanade Beach is similar to Funston in that tall seacliffs keep your dog safe from dangerous vehicles. Keep in mind that the south end of the beach requires pets to be leashed. It is a fairly narrow strip of sand, so it is best enjoyed at the lower tides. The entrance to the Esplanade Dog Beach can be tricky to find, but the directions above will take you right to the trailhead. The walk isn’t far. Bring your binoculars to look for whales!

Albany Bulb & Buchanan Dog Beach

Click for directions: Beach Parking

Effort: easy

If you find yourself across the Bay Bridge or just looking for something a little different, the Buchanan Dog Beach at the base of the Albany Bulb scenic park is a low-key place that’s a great for your dog to play and to swim. Deep inside the mouth of the Golden Gate, the water is generally calm but always use caution. I would also suggest checking the water quality (see below) before heading to the beach.

Leashed dog beaches

Ocean Beach from Stairwell 21 to Sloat Blvd*

Click for directions: Judah Street Entrance

Effort: easy

According to the National Park Service, “On-Leash required all year, except from 15 May -1 July, when dogs must be on-leash or under voice control.” 

Ocean Beach is huge, crowded on the sunniest weekends, and really quiet on weekday mornings. Local tip: embrace the fog because the beach is empty!

Crane Cove Park

Click for directions: Metered Parking on Illinois Street

Effort: easy

Looking for a little urban adventure with the fur baby? Something with coffee shops, bars, and restaurants within walking distance? Crane Cove Park was opened in 2020 and boasts a sheltered cove with a beach, where leashed dogs are always welcome. 

There seems to be some controversy about leash rules, and you often find dogs playing in the water off-leash. The water in Crane Cove is calm, but I’ll let you make your own decision about the ethics of letting them swim here.

Candlestick Point

Click for directions: Main Parking Area

Effort: easy

Ok, this is a really small beach, but if you’re looking for something different, yet really close to home, Candlestick is on the east side of the SF peninsula, making it a great place to watch the sunrise!

Montara state beach

Click for directions: Main Parking Area

Effort: easy

Personal opinion: I think Montara is the closest beach to SF that really feels like it’s out of the city. It is big and broad with clean white sand and coastal bluffs. There’s open space on every side and the water is often clear and blue. The sunset view is unbeatable.

Sharp Park and Mori Point

Click for directions: Sharp Park Parking

Effort: easy

Walk south from the parking area to get the most out of this place. You can walk on the beach or the coastal trail, and if you walk far enough you will find yourself at the base of Mori Point, a beautiful and dog-friendly trail network

Pacifica State Beach

Click for directions: Suggested Parking

Effort: easy

Pacifica State Beach, aka Linda Mar, tends to be crowded with surfers and beachgoers, especially on the weekend. Parking is also pricey, so this actually isn’t a favorite dog beach of mine. 

However, if you’re looking for a dog friendly beginner surf spot for a day at the beach, this is the spot. They literally hold the World Dog Surfing Championships here every year. It is also a great spot for surf lessons near San Francisco.

Kick back with the whole family, bring lunch, and don’t forget the surfboards!

Common Questions 

+ What are the best dog swimming spots?

  1. Crissy Field
  2. Albany Bulb & Buchanan Dog Beach

+ Which dog beaches have a view of the Golden Gate Bridge?

  1. Crissy Field
  2. Baker Beach
  3. Albany Bulb & Buchanan dog beach

+ Are dogs allowed at Kirby cove?

No, pets are not allowed at Kirby Cove. 

+ Are dogs allowed at China Beach?

Plenty of websites will tell you otherwise, but dogs are not allowed at China Beach.

+ Are dogs allowed at Marshall Beach?

Unless they are service animals, dogs are not allowed at Marshall Beach.

+ Can dogs swim in the Half Moon Bay (Pillar Point) harbor?

While you will often find off-leash dogs roaming the shoreline inside the harbor, it is technically not allowed. 

+ Is the water quality safe for swimming?

Water quality and safety fluctuate daily. I suggest checking the SF Ocean and Beach Monitoring website for the latest updates. 

And take some pictures!

We live in such a beautiful place, and it’s great to share that with our entire families, dogs too. Whether you are planning a family beach picnic or going fishing with the dogs and the kids, consider hiring a professional family photographer to document what it means to get outside together as a family. And make sure you choose one that’s dog friendly!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *