As dog trainers in San Diego, we love to take full advantage of the fact that our city is consistently ranked as one of the most dog friendly cities in the United States. Even so, our clients are constantly asking us, where do WE, as dog trainers, take our pooches? If you are looking for the best places in San Diego to socialize your dog, or just a nice place to spend some time with your furry best friend, we've got you covered. After much debate, we've put together a list of our top ten favorite dog-friendly places in San Diego.
Best Place in San Diego for a Staycation: Hotel Indigo
Hotel Indigo is fabulous boutique hotel in the heart of the Gaslamp Quarter. It has beautiful rooms, an enticing bar, and the best VIP program I've ever come across — but it's not the typical "VIP" you're thinking of: at Hotel Indigo, VIP stands for Very Important Pet! We love that this place has gone out of their way to assure pet owners that their furry travel companions are not a burden but welcome guests. Food bowls and a dog bed are automatically provided, there are no extra fees or restrictions for weight, breed, or the number of pets you bring and they offer doggie daycare. You can even take your dog to the bar!
Pro Training Tip:
If you have a puppy or a dog who is new to your family, it's a great idea to have them stay in a few different hotels (preferably while they're young) to get them socialized and acclimated to the hotel environment. This way, you'll be able to travel with your dog who is perfectly calm and content while traveling and staying at hotels with you because they are desensitized to it.
This applies specifically to puppies. The sights, smells, and sounds of a hotel room are unique, so the more often you can expose your puppy to unique experiences, the better! Regrettably, I didn't take my dog, Kai, into a hotel until he was about four years old. As a result, he barks all night at every little sound when we stay in a hotel or place that isn't home. Not super relaxing. Learn from my mistake! Take your puppy to a swanky hotel — it's the responsible thing to do.
Best Dog Beach: OB Dog Beach
This dog beach has so much to offer. First, IT'S HUGE—there's so much sandy space. The advantage of a large dog park is that you aren't likely to be "hounded" the minute you arrive — pun absolutely intended. If you are looking at the sign at the entrance of the OB Dog Beach, you can go left, right, or straight: to the left is where all the action is, which is great if your dog is a social butterfly who loves being surrounded by lots of energetic pups. If you go right or straight, it's a bit quieter and you can have more of the beach to yourself there. Whichever direction you decide, we're pretty confident you'll love this beach as much as we do!
Pro Training Tips:
- This dog park is not fenced in. Make sure you are confident in Fido's ability to come when called before letting him loose!
- The OB Dog Beach is not the place to set up a chair and catch some rays. Trust us! We've tried. (Still removing the sand from my teeth.)
Best Place to Have a Beer with Your Dog: Culture Brewing Co.
This little brewery has one location right down the street from OB Dog Beach! What a perfect afternoon! We loved this spot for the overall modern feel and the delicious beer they serve. Then we found out dogs were invited to the party! This is a place where dogs need to be on leash and kept away from the bar at all times, which we feel is totally fair/understandable — nobody wants dog hair in their IPA. Be sure to check this place out, they have a lot of fresh brews on tap and their Hefeweizen is outstanding.
Culture Brewing Company has an additional location in Solana Beach.
Best Place to Have a Glass of Wine with Your Dog: San Pasqual Winery
The San Pasqual Winery is the perfect place to enjoy a glass of wine while overlooking San Diego Bay, all with your best four-legged friend by your side. They also have another location further inland which includes a wine bar. We think everyone who lives in San Diego dreams about watching the sunset over the bay, wine in hand, dog by your side (or at least all of our friends do!) This is the spot where you can do just that.
Hot New Dog-Friendly Spot: Quartyard
They say that this is where the cool kids take their dogs and we think they're right! Quartyard is self-described as a "vast outdoor container park and eatery with beer, coffee and food trucks, live bands, events, and a dog park." The concept of Quartyard was to take an underutilized lot and turn it into a gathering place for the community. Mission accomplished. From farmers markets to rotating food trucks to rock concerts, this place always has something going on!
Pro Training Tip:
Before taking your dog to a music venue or any other loud space, consider that your dog's hearing is much better than yours. If something sounds even remotely loud to you, it could be completely overwhelming and even painful for your four-legged-friend. This can be especially problematic with lots of other people and dogs around. Simply put, high stress levels increase the likelihood of a dog fight. If you take your dog to any public, busy place, keep an eye on them. Look for these signs of stress. If you see anything out of the ordinary, it's probably time for you and your pup to head on home.
Best Place for a Dog-Friendly Date Night: The Patio on Lamont Street
The Patio on Lamont Street is sexy and we can't think of another way to describe it. It's the perfect setting for a SoCal date night: great lighting, an outdoor patio, delicious food and drinks, and it's dog-friendly. Are we the only ones who feel like date night should be dog-friendly? It's possible. The seating is a little tight, so make sure your dog is comfortable in small spaces.
Best Place for a Dog Training Session: Balboa Park
Balboa Park is busy enough for distractions but big enough to always be able to find a quiet spot if you need. There's also lots of shade and open space. Looking to socialize a new puppy? Grab some treats, a big blanket, and find a spot. The sights, smells, and sounds will come to you! There is also a dog park which is the perfect place to let your dog blow off some steam before a challenging training session or to use as a reward for nailing that five minute 'stay'!
Best Place for a Dog-Friendly Brunch: The Doghouse Bar & Grill
It's the weekend which means one thing: brunch! But there's a problem — you've been working all week and you don't want to leave your dog home alone while you're out having bottomless mimosas. What is a devoted dog-parent to do? We have the answer: brunch at Doghouse. This spot features a patio, off-leash dog area, and even a menu specifically designed for our four-legged babies. Bottomless mimosas and a dog park? Sounds like an ideal situation.
Best Spot for a Lazy Afternoon: Kate Sessions Park
Kate Sessions Park is known for its gorgeous views and open spaces to play and relax, so it's great for a picnic. The park is zoned for dogs on-leash only, however, lots of park goers historically forget this little rule. So you'll really enjoy this park if your dogs loves getting up close and personal with lots of other pooches!
Best Place to Take Your Dog for An Afternoon Run: Fiesta Island Dog Park
Fiesta Island is a great place for outdoor activities like paddle boarding, bike riding, BBQ-ing, and more. It's also home to the best dog park in San Diego and needless to say, it's one of our favorite doggie spots ever. Bordered by a fence to one side and the San Diego Bay the rest of the way around, the trail that circumnavigates the whole perimeter of the park makes this a dog loving runner's paradise. Ever dream of being able to live in the city but still go for a run with your dog off leash? This is your spot. While you take in beautiful views of downtown and a sunset over the bay, your dog can chase lizards through the tall grass or cruise the sandy beaches and play in the water, all while keeping their eye on Mom or Dad.