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5 Dog-Friendly Places in San Diego

Melanie Rigden |

There are so many sources out there for the best things to do when visiting San Diego, but here are a few of Ruby and her mom’s favorites that you can easily do in a weekend!


“San Diego is quite possibly the most dog-friendly city we’ve ever visited.

Whether you’re a beach bum, shopaholic or foodie, there’s something for

everyone in San Diego and your furry friend is always welcome.”

– Melanie, dog-mom to Ruby

1. Visit the Original Dog Beach

There are beaches everywhere in San Diego, but the Original Dog Beach is our favorite dog-friendly one. Also known as Ocean Beach Dog Beach, this off-leash destination is located on the north end of Ocean Beach, 15 minutes northwest of San Diego.

Situated between the Pacific Ocean and Point Loma, this laidback, bohemian neighborhood features eclectic shops, restaurants, and a farmer’s market that’s not to be missed.


Even if you’re not in the mood for shopping,  just hanging out and experiencing the easygoing vibe of the area is certainly worth it!


When visiting Ocean Beach Dog Beach, you’re sure to see surfers chasing the sun, riding their bikes on their way to catch some waves, and dogs walking loyally off leash next to their owners. This is definitely part of the charm of Ocean Beach!

There’s a parking lot situated along the beach, but spaces can be pretty scarce and tight, so drive a smaller vehicle if you can. Once you successfully find a spot, head north over the ridge to the dog beach and let your pup run wild.

TIP: After a good romp in the sand, run your pup over to Ocean Beach Dog Wash, a convenient dog bath a half a mile away. They have several grooming tubs with shampoo available, and once your pup is all clean you can take them over to the drying station so there’s no way any sand is ending up in your car!




2. Eat at The Patio Restaurants

If you’re like me, you want to take your dog everywhere and that’s including when you dine out. If this is the case, The Patio Group restaurants should make your list when visiting San Diego. These restaurants focus on sourcing sustainable, quality ingredients and providing stellar service. Each venture has a different theme and vibe, but most of them allow dogs in their outdoor seating area and serve homemade treats.

The Patio on Lamont

Located in Pacific Beach, The Patio on Lamont features a seasonal menu with unique cocktails, wine and craft beers. This was the groups’ first indoor/outdoor venture. The outdoor seating is enclosed with walls of greenery that blend into the indoor seating to create a more enclosed ambiance rather than your typical street patio seating. This area is where pups are allowed, and reservations are highly recommended.

Fireside by the Patio

Located in San Diego’s historic Liberty Station, Fireside by The Patio features two, large patios with a bar and indoor seating situated in between. The menu features modern, wood fired cuisine and the outdoor seating is charming with cozy lounge seating and lights strung from the trees. There’s even certain areas that feature artificial grass for your furry friend.

The Patio on Goldfinch

If you can only make it to one of these, put this one at the top of your list. The success of The Patio on Lamont led to the launch of this location in Mission Hills. This open-air eatery has a fantastic, heated patio and delicious menu.

TIP: We went to the Goldfinch location for brunch and were seated right away without a reservation. Do yourself a favor and order their cinnamon roll for the table as you sip cocktails and await your entrees.



3. Strike a pose in front of street art

A great way to explore San Diego’s diverse neighborhoods is to follow a trail of colorful street art. Here’s a checklist of a few of my favorite murals to visit in La Jolla, Hillcrest, North Park and downtown. While this list isn’t exhaustive, it should give you a good start for spurring your own mural hunt.

One Pointed Attention

One Pointed Attention, 7835 Ivanhoe Ave, San Diego, CA 92037

SeaWalls: Murals of Oceans


Murals of Oceans, 3804 Fourth Avenue, San Diego, CA 92103

What Lifts You


What Lifts You, 900 Fourth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101

North Park Mural Project

North Park Mural Project, 3750 30th Street, San Diego, CA 92104

4. Opt outside

Being outside should be your #1 goal when visiting San Diego. No matter where you’re from, the weather here is sure to beat it. If the beach isn’t your thing, there are plenty of hiking trails and bike paths around the city. We opted for a bike ride when we found out Torrey Pines wasn’t dog friendly. 

TIP: If you want to bike with your pup, I suggest a bag of some kind that your dog is used to and that’s easy to travel with. I use the K9 Sport Sack. Also, don’t forget to pack plenty of water and treats to keep your pup a happy passenger along the ride.


5. Shop ‘til you drop in La Jolla

If you’re in need of some retail therapy, La Jolla is the place to go. Voted one of the top places to shop in San Diego, it’s downtown area features a number of boutiques and just outside downtown is an extensive outdoor mall, University Towne Center.

If you’re shopping in downtown La Jolla, my favorite shop is Muttropolis. This pet boutique carries design-driven, functional products from all your favorite brands. And if you need some fuel to shop ‘til you drop, pop into Bobboi. It’s a natural gelato shop that locally sources all their ingredients and creates their flavors fresh every morning. I’m a huge gelato fan, and their flavors are some of the best I’ve tasted.

University Towne Center is about 10 minutes outside downtown La Jolla and offers a mix of high-end shops, top-tier restaurants and brick-and-mortar stores of internet-based retailers. The mall is pet-friendly and even has a dog park!

TIP: If you plan on shopping, make sure you leave enough room in your suitcase! 


About the author: Melanie Rigden is a marketing manager for a tech company in the Midwest. She has a passion for travel and a love for animals, especially her pup Ruby. She loves combining both by planning as many dog-friendly trips as possible. 

Find her on Instagram: @backpackingbrunette & @hellorubydoodle

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