If camping on the beach sounds like paradise to you, then you’ll find paradise at Refugio State Beach. The beach and campsites are located about 30 minutes north of Santa Barbara county along a relatively isolated stretch of central coast. Pristine beaches and several major hiking trails make this area a fun place to visit for a weekend or overnight stay.
The beach itself is a slightly protected bay, and during the summer season a lifeguard is posted during daytime hours. Towering over the waters are several bluffs that you can hike with your dog, and the views can be pretty incredible. Palm trees are dotted along the coastline, and they offer shade to hikers and dog walkers.
Most of the campsites are simple plots of grass or dirt where you can pitch a tent, each equipped with a fire pit, charcoal barbecue grill, and picnic bench. Fresh water spouts are abundant, and there are two sets of accessible restrooms with showers located on the premises. There is even a playground and small park located directly across from the beach.
Refugio State Beach is managed by California State Parks, and as with most other state parks, there are fees for parking and reserving campsites. While dogs are allowed in the campsites, they are not allowed in buildings or on the beach, and they must be on a 6-foot leash at all times.
At night, the campsite also requires that dogs be kept in tents or in vehicles. Dog owners are responsible for making sure your furbaby is courteous, as well as for picking up after your dog. The park does not provide poop bags to help you with this, so you will need to pack your own in.
While dog-friendliness is not Refugio Beach’s chief sell, you can still visit and have an amazing weekend. You and your dog can fall asleep and wake up to the sounds of crashing waves, and though you cannot go for a stroll or swim on the beach, there are plenty of beautiful trails for you to enjoy.