Top Dog Beaches in the North Bay Area
We're in the middle of a heat wave, so let's talk about my favorite dog friendly beaches. Pack up a lunch, beach towels, doggie snacks and poop bags, slather on the sunscreen and head to these Bay Area Beaches to cool off. These are also great locations for your dog's session with me (a nominal travel fee may apply for some locations).
Please be responsible and help keep our access to these beaches open. Always clean up after your dog, and don't let your dog bother people or other dogs who want to be left alone. Follow leash laws, don't let them harass or damage wildlife and have fun!
Off Leash Beaches
Dillon Beach is the perfect destination for Petalumans, and it's worth the drive for Marinites looking for a large beach where dogs can run, splash, and swim in the waves. The drive to Dillon Beach is approximately 30 minutes from downtown Petaluma, and the scenery is gorgeous. Non-aggressive dogs are welcome to visit and romp off leash, hooray! When the tide is low it's a good spot for tide pool viewing. Please be watchful of folks fishing and keep your dog clear of fishing lines. There are restrooms as well as a limited number of picnic tables and fire pits. There is a day use fee of $10 per vehicle to park in the lot at Dillon beach. The beach is open daily, hours change seasonally. For current information, call 707.878.2094. To get there, head west on Dillon Beach Road from the town of Tomales on Highway 1 west of Petaluma. Stay left as you head into town and the road leads to the beach parking lot.
Muir beach is small, but it's a hidden gem where dogs can run free and it is less crowded than Stinson Beach. Recently the Golden Gate National Recreation Area has proposed banning off leash dogs on Muir Beach, but for the time being dogs are permitted off leash as long as they are under voice control. It's a short walk to the beach from the parking lot, just head over the pedestrian bridge which leads the way. There are restrooms (though at times unsavory) and some picnic tables near the parking lot. Traffic can be a problem in Mill Valley on warm days, particularly Friday afternoons and weekends during the summer when you'll intermingle with travelers heading to Muir Woods & Stinson Beach. Go in the morning to avoid the worst of it; the parking lot does fill up on busy days and there is no overflow parking available nearby. If you have children be aware that the Northern end of Muir Beach may harbor folks enjoying the beach in their birthday suits. Muir Beach is located just off of Highway 1. From Tam Juction in Mill Valley, follow Shoreline Highway for about 5 miles (the road is winding and a challenge for those prone to carsickness). Take a left on Pacific Way (look for The Pelican Inn) and follow to the parking lot.
Rodeo Beach is located in the Marin Headlands, and you'll be surrounded by gorgeous views as you stroll the wide stretch of sand here. There are a sparse number of benches along the road, and a few picnic tables near the restrooms (located near the main parking lot at the North end of the beach), so best to bring a blanket if you want to settle here for the day. While dogs are allowed off leash as long as they are under voice control, they are not permitted in the adjacent lagoon, so keep the frolicking to the sandy stretch of beach. Stop by the visitor's center and grab a complimentary map outlining the trails where dogs are allowed (the paved portion of the Coastal trail from the North end of the beach and the Lagoon trail both allow dogs off leash under voice control). Like Muir Beach, Golden Gate National Recreation Area has proposed drastic changes to these rules, but for now we are free to hang with our pups here. To get there from Petaluma or Marin take the Alexander Ave. Exit from Highway 101 (just after the Robin Willams Tunnel). For the scenic route, turn left at the stop sign, then right onto Conzelman Road. Turn right at the roundabout onto McCullough Rd. Next go left onto Bunker Rd, following the signage for Rodeo Beach.
On Leash Beaches
Both of these beaches are a bit of a drive, plus you have to keep fido leashed (regulations require a leash no longer than 6 feet). But, they are so wonderful to visit they deserve a mention. Please note that I'll often post images in which dogs appear to be off leash, however leashes are often removed digitally during post processing.
Park along Pierce Point Road in Point Reyes and hike the easy .6 mile trail to Kehoe Beach (please note, the trail is covered in fox tails, my dogs wear their outfox field guards during the walk into the beach. Once on the beach it's foxtail free). The trail touts amazing views of sand dunes and wildflowers. A portion of the beach is closed to dogs due to the presence of snowy plover, so please be sure to read the signage and avoid that area. From the end of the trail, head to the right to check out the towering cliffs and sand dunes. There are bathrooms at the trail head, but this is not a good beach for water play due to the on leash restriction and dangerous waves.
Limantour Beach is a 2-mile stretch of narrow sand between Drake's Bay and an estuary. Located at the end of Limantour Road in Point Reyes National Seashore, dogs are allowed on the Southeast end of this beach, but steer clear of the Northwest end where dogs are not allowed due to the presence of harbor seals snowy plover. The beach is a 5 minute walk from the parking area, and the surf here is typically gentle, so it's a great spot to walk barefoot in the sand with your pooch on leash so he can dip his toes in too. Restrooms and picnic tables are located near the parking area.