The Get Leashed Guide to America’s Most Dog-Friendly Beaches

Surf’s up for water loving dogs!

By Si Si Penaloza

America's Most Dog-Friendly Beaches - Get Leashed Magazine

Baker Beach

1775 Gibson Rd. / San Francisco, CA, US 94129

Every city in the U.S. needs an off-leash haven like Baker Beach. Our family dog had the best day of the summer here last year! This beach is so well maintained for a Bay Area beach; it’s immaculate. The day we were there, all the dogs were super well-behaved and roaming at will, which made my heart soar. Located approximately 1 mile south of the Golden Gate Bridge, this beach is a great spot to take your dog for a view of the famous landmark. Dogs are permitted off-leash on Baker Beach north of Lobos Creek, but they must be on a leash south of Lobos Creek.

Baker Beach - Most Dog Friendly Beaches - Get Leashed Mag

Where to Stay:
Four Seasons San Francisco / 217 Stevenson Street / San Francisco, CA 94103

The Four Seasons San Francisco is a luxurious haven in the heart of the City by the Bay. Set on Market Street across from Yerba Buena Gardens and just blocks from Union Square, the hotel puts you within easy reach of all noteworthy attractions. Occupying floors 5 through 17 of a skyscraper, elegant rooms with contemporary artwork and fine linens have floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Yerba Buena Gardens or skyline views. Kick back in the city’s plushest robes and slippers, or hit your meetings with fresh vigor with boxed room service meals to go – either way, this hotel has you covered. The new lobby is simple and stunning, with all the wow factors in discreet scale, beckoning the guest to look closer. Spacious rooms could use a refresh, but you can’t fault the flawless service culture here. On a recent family trip to the Bay Area, the Four Seasons San Francisco came to the rescue with a great rate on a block of four rooms at the last minute, saving us from the most fraudulently misrepresented Airbnb in the city. We’re a Four Seasons kind of family down to our core; we’ll take top notch service over shiny renos, bells and whistles any day.

Four Seasons San Francisco - Get Leashed Magazine

Oak Island Beaches

W Oak Island Dr and Midway Rd SE / Wilmington, NC, US

North Carolinians are beautifully blasé about how dog-friendly their state is. Wilmington, Raleigh and Asheville feel like pup loving communities filled with friendly locals, hearty food, and cashmere-swaddled lazy afternoons. Oak Island beaches – Caswell, Yaupon, & Long Beach – are the pride of North Carolina. Oak Island is an island off the coast, about 30 minutes south of Wilmington. No ferry hassle required, the island is accessible across a bridge. On lazy summer days, the atmosphere is quiet, relaxing and laid back. Dogs of all sizes have a wonderful time running on the beach or retrieving toys from the low, lapping surf.

Woman with dog paddleboarding at sunset(1)

Photo credit:

Where to Stay:
The Umstead Hotel and Spa / 100 Woodland Pond Dr / Cary, NC 27513

From its buttery biscuits to its bustling brew houses, Raleigh, North Carolina’s capital city, offers lively southern charm in a relaxed urban landscape. The ideal kickoff to explore the Smoky Mountain state is the Umstead Hotel and Spa, a mere 15-minute drive from downtown Raleigh. This pet-friendly hotel boasts one of the best spas in North Carolina, and, like any hotel worth its coarse-ground Himalayan salt, the Umstead’s signature restaurant, Herons, is ground zero for locally-inspired fine dining. Executive chef Scott Crawford is one of Raleigh’s most courted arbiters of taste; a meal here is an adventure in slow-braised Southern nibbles.

Umstead Hotel and Spa - Get Leashed Magazine

The Original Dog Beach

San Diego River Pathway / San Diego, CA, US 92107

There’s a reason it’s called The Original Dog Beach. Often the original proves to be the best – think Levi 501 and Coke. The most popular canine hotspot in San Diego is The Original Dog Beach, lavishing mutts of all sizes with sun and sand at the northern end of Ocean Beach. Here, dogs can roam off leash at any time with no restrictions. Owners must pick up after their pets, or risk getting the evil eye from locals who come here daily. And in true retro style, after a frisky day in the saltwater, sporting dog owners may want to head over to the Dog Beach Dog Wash to give your salty dog a bath. Located on nearby Voltaire Street, this hose-down-central hot spot is just two blocks away from the beach. This is an easy breezy beach day, with clean up nearby so that you don’t track dirty paws into your car – a major bonus for grit-crusted furry types and their Type-A humans.

American's best dog beaches - Get Leashed Magazine

Photo credit: Josh Utley /

Where to Stay:
Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa / 5921 Valencia Circle / Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067

At Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa, pets are considered part of the family and are given the same over-the-top service as their owners. From in-room Doggie Tapas to Barnyard Chase (savory grilled chicken, steamed rice and mixed veggies) or Rin Tin Tin Tartare (seared rare hamburger patty, scrambled egg), the ways you can spoil your pet here are endless. We know of a few dogs who whimpered upon check out, not wanting to leave this posh doggy lifestyle haven (after all Bill Gates plays tennis here on the regular). Who wouldn’t want to wriggle their furry caboose back into the Rancho Valencia kitchen? Nearby, there are places to play, pet-friendly shopping and grooming. Upon check-in, pet guests receive a sampling of tasty doggie treats, “clean up after your doggie” bags and a plush doggie bed. For Get Leashed’s full list of Top West Coast Hotels for Your Top Dog, click here.

Rancho Valencia

Anne’s Beach

Algiers Lane and Casa Ybel Rd / Sanibel, FL, US

We’re talking free from Sunrise to Sunset! Anne’s Beach is a secluded dog-friendly beach with one very important ingredient for more sensitive dogs – plenty of shade. There are poop bag dispensers at the ready and a fresh water bowl available on occasion. This is the ideal Florida sand hammock to rest with your furry beach bum. It’s laid back and breezy; locals are eager to socialize around their playful pets. One of the many pet friendly beaches in the Florida Keys, Anne’s Beach is a most peaceful, raw escape – akin to a nature preserve.


Photo credit: Andy Newman/Florida Keys News Bureau

Where to Stay:
Watercolor Vacation Rentals / 136 Bluejack Ln / Watercolor, FL 32459

The perfect combination of the intimacy of a bed and breakfast, and the fun of a classic Florida beach house, Watercolor vacation rentals creates the ideal setting in which to relax and play. Many of the cottages and villas are pet-friendly, giving every member of the family a place to feel at home. Hailed for its environmental stewardship, WaterColor is a shining example of how responsible development can improve local life. With an award-winning inn and restaurant, stately beach cottages, a boathouse, tennis club, spa, shops, restaurants, and beach club, there are always plenty of things to do. But with almost half of its 499 acres set aside for open space and preservation, WaterColor’s emphasis is clearly on the breathtaking natural environment that surrounds it. At the hotel’s beach, plenty of hammocks abound, circling a pool made for watching those infamous South Walton sunsets.

Watercolor Vacation Rentals - Get Leashed Magazine

Kailua Beach Park

526 Kawailoa Rd / Kailua, HI, US 96734

One would hardly think that a vacationing island-hopping dog could have it rough. From Kailua to Honolulu, choosing between the dog-friendly beaches in Oahu is tricky! Will you have to stay leash bound? Will Rover have free reign to dig? It’s was a tight race with Lanikai, but Kailua Beach takes the cake on sheer gorgeousness alone. Pets are welcome to join in, enjoying gorgeous platinum white sand and turquoise water. Sure, your dog must stay on-leash, but the scenic splendor more than makes up for it. A spectacular oasis, Kailua may be a top contender for the most beautiful dog beach in all of Hawaii! While the sand remains leash-only, once in the water, dogs can swim free to their heart’s content. Bags were available to use and owners seem very respectful of others. Parking is bit of a challenge on the weekend — ask locals for a parking options.

Kailua Beach - Dog Friendly Beaches - Get Leashed Magazine

Where to Stay:
The Modern Honolulu / 1775 Ala Moana Blvd / Honolulu, HI 96815

The Modern Honolulu is the ideal Waikiki summer getaway for travelers who are looking to bring their dog along with them to a chic, stylish hotel. The 353-room marina-front resort is noted for its friendly, smart service and top notch dining. A rare treat for codependent owners, dogs are welcome in all areas of the property, including the pool decks. The only place you can’t bring Fido – and for good reason – is The Spa. Centrally located and within walking distance to popular Waikiki beaches, the hotel is also near a selection of luxury boutiques and retail stores that line Waikiki’s main thoroughfare, Kalakaua Avenue. Each pup receives The Modern Pet Basket upon arrival, which includes treats, a chew toy and a water bowl.

Kailua Beach Park - Get Leashed Mag