Cardiff-by-the-Sea, or Cardiff for short, is one of five designated neighborhoods in Encinitas, California. This quaint beach community is known for its love of two things: surfing and dogs. This area is home to the P.A.D.Z. organization, a non-profit association that, according to its website is, “dedicated to addressing the legitimate need for safe, off-leash recreational areas.” Thanks in large part to this organization, local pups have the world at their paws here! Cutting Edge K9 Rehab is another unique feature Cardiff has to offer its pets. This impressive hydrotherapy rehabilitation center helps injured and disabled pups get back on their paws. For regular checkups, the nearest vet is only a stone’s throw away, in Encinitas proper.
San Elijo State Beach is a favorite spot of local dogs and surfers alike. This public beach welcomes leashed pups and features both inland and oceanfront camping areas. The camp store is open from April to October, offering necessities such as groceries and firewood. The store even features a snack bar for hungry campers! The park has several wheelchair-accessible amenities, including accessible campsites, restrooms, and showers. Lifeguards are stationed on the beach during the peak seasons, and mobile lifeguards patrol the area all other times of the year. Owners are still advised to be aware of the currents and know how to spot a riptide.
Nearby San Elijo Lagoon Trail offers leashed pups a 3-mile scenic trek through the lagoon and wetlands. The path winds through the 1,000-acre San Elijo Ecological Reserve and is home to a wide-variety of plants and animals. Pups love exploring all the sights and smells the trail has to offer. The area can get muddy, so make sure you bring towels!
Ocean Beach Dog Park is, without a doubt, the most popular doggy destination in the area. This off-leash paradise is considered by many to be “the happiest place in the San Diego area". The park is located on the appropriately named “Smiley Lagoon” and provides a picturesque spot for a fur-iendly swim. Since it is the most populated park in San Diego, there are always plenty of guests for your pup to play and socialize with. After your fun in the sun, hit up the nearby dog wash for a quick rinse before heading home.
The city center of Encinitas is home to several dog-friendly eateries and a great bark park. Maggie Houlihan Memorial Dog Park is a popular spot for dogs of all sizes and temperaments. This park features three separate areas: a main enclosure for large dogs, an area for small or less active dogs, and an area for dogs that need to get their exercise separately. The main area features an agility course, perfect for nimble pups to show off their moves. Other features include a walking trail, double-gated entry, benches, and water stations. Before you head home, stop by the pet-friendly Encinitas Fish Shop for their award-winning TKO tacos!
This neighborhood boasts a diverse assortment of fun activities for both owners and pets to indulge in. The Seaside Bazaar provides a pet-friendly space for owners to do some shopping near downtown Encinitas. This open-air flea market welcomes well-behaved leashed pets and has over 50 merchants to check out. Vendors here sell an assortment of unique and hand-crafted goods such as jewelry, art, clothing, and trinkets. Neighboring Viewpoint Park allows off-leash dogs four days a week, from 6 am to 7:30 am and from 3 pm to 8 pm. Owners should be cautious while their pup is off-leash, as the area is not fenced. With its breathtaking views and spacious green expanses, this park is a favorite for all two- and four-legged guests.
Carlsbad is a convenient local getaway only an 11-minute drive from Cardiff. The area is a dream for refined pups, offering 64 dog-friendly dining options in the city proper. The southwest neighborhood is home to a really cool park with a lot of action. Alga Norte Community Park literally has it all: a sports complex, skate park, playground, pool, and an off-leash dog area. For the dogs’ safety, the off-leash area is divided into sections based on breed size. This area also features an obstacle course with an astounding array of agility equipment — sure to impress even the most skeptical of pooches!
North Encinitas has a large variety of dog-friendly restaurants, as well as several lodging options, for travelers with pets. This neighborhood is also home to Orpheus Park, a small park with BIG views! Furry guests are allowed off-leash time on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. The park features water fountains for both people and pets, and a fenced playground, for the kiddos. Your pup will love meeting all the two- and four-legged locals! Afterwards, you and your pooch can enjoy a cup of herbal tea or an espresso at Pannikin Coffee & Tea!