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The Best Dog Friendly Places in San Diego

Posted on 1/21/2014 by Ali Meza in dog friendly San Diego dog parks

Take your dog on a date!

My time as a single, unemployed dog owner was pretty glorious. I got to hang out with my dog, Roach, all the time. We went running together almost every day. He rode shotgun while I ran errands. Roach and I share a special sort of co-dependent neediness that guaranteed that I was never alone. Have you ever had a dog that follows you everywhere? Like, watches you pee? Don’t judge me.

Anyhoot. We spent a lot of time with my friend Scottie and her husky, Maya (the beauties in the sunset beach photo up top). They moved to San Diego for the winter, and all four of us fell in love, especially Roach and Maya. The year-round 75-and-sunny here allowed us to find the best dog friendly places in San Diego. If you’re planning a trip to San Diego with your dog, or especially if you live here, check out these spots:


Best off-leash dog park:

Grape Street Dog Park; South Park

This just might be my favorite place in San Diego, dog-friendly or otherwise. The largest of the three off-leash dog parks in Balboa Park, it gives dogs tons of room to run. It is also beautifully tranquil, nestled atop undeveloped canyons, shaded by mature Eucalyptus Groves, and overlooking the Downtown San Diego skyline. Grape Street isn't completely fenced in, so keep a close eye on your pup. Afterwards, walk your dog over to The Daily Scoop. They can’t legally allow dogs inside anymore, but this old-fashioned ice-cream parlor offers a flavor called “dogscream”, which Roach LOVED.


Runner up:

Nate’s Point; Banker’s Hill (which is fenced-in in case your dog is a runner)


Best dog-friendly bar:

Whistle Stop Tavern; South Park

Caddycorner from TheDaily Scoop, The Whistlestop welcomes dogs, no questions asked. In fact, I have often seen a dog running around off-leash! This place has great drink prices and a jukebox that will make you fall in love with the person on the next barstool (or the dog underneath it).

Runner up:

Hamilton’s Tavern, South Park


Best dog-friendly restaurant

Station Tavern; South Park

Station is right next door to the Whistle Stop, offering local beer and seasonal comfort food. There is a huge dog-friendly outdoor patio with long picnic-style tables. Be careful on hot busy days. Shaded spots can be scarce.

Runner up:

Parkhouse Eatery (patio); University Heights


Best off-leash dog park that isn’t technically off-leash:

Kate Sessions Park; Pacific Beach

Even before you get out of your car, you have a breathtaking, spectacular panoramic view of the San Diego Bay, downtown, and east San Diego County. On clear days, you can see the Coronado Bridge, and even the mountains in Mexico. On weekends, Kate Sessions is diversely packed with bros doing keg stands, Pacific Beach dog walkers, family picnics, and casual weddings. Weekdays are less crowded, except after 5pm, when Kate Sessions goes to the dogs, most of them off-leash.


Runner up:

Trolley Barn Park; University Heights


Best Dog Beach:

Ocean Beach Dog Beach, Ocean Beach

If your dog likes the water, check out an off-leash dog beach. The Ocean Beach community is famously dog-friendly. So if your dog lifts his leg on someone’s beach blanket, you will probably be forgiven.

Runner up: TIE

Coronado Dog Beach and Del Mar Dog Beach


Best Dog Wash: TIE!

Noah’s Natural Pet Market; Pacific Beach

Noah’s specializes in Organic, and Raw food and Natural Grooming Supplies. The owners, Mary and Liz, are my idols. I want to be them when I grow up. The first time I brought Pepe, my filthy Tijuana Rescue, Mary told me my dog wash was on the house, in support of rescue dogs. I fell in love then, and haven’t been disappointed since.

South Bark Dog Wash; South Park

South Bark makes dog ownership feel really cool. The staff is young and hip, but totally professional and on point, especially the store manager, Chris, who I'm not ashamed to say I stalk on facebook. Sorry ladies, she's taken. Plus South Bark makes and sells their own all-natural blueberry dog shampoo that is safe for eyes and smells so delicious I want to eat it!


What do you think of my picks? Comment below if I left your favorite place off the list!