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7 min read

Dog-friendly Road Trip Ideas in San Francisco


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San Francisco is the perfect city for pet parents — endless sunshine, tons of parks, and plenty of pup-friendly businesses dotted across the Bay Area. If you're planning on taking a road trip to San Francisco with your canine compadre, you’re probably wondering what the best activities, parks, and campgrounds in and around SF are. Here are a few ideas and tips to help you plan the best road trip possible for you and Sparky. 

Where to play

Golden Gate Dog Park

The Golden Gate Dog Park is one of the best dog-friendly parks in San Francisco. Located close to the city center, this vast city park boasts 3 designated off-leash areas where your pup can make some new furry friends and burn some excess energy. Outside these runs, your pooch is welcome to stroll down the park's trails with you, as long as you abide by California's leash laws. 

If you plan to hike around the park with your pupper in tow, ensure you pay close attention to your surroundings. Poison oak sometimes grows close to the ground in the area, which could be harmful to your hound.

Ocean Beach

San Francisco has several dog-friendly beaches Lucky is sure to love. Ocean Beach is one of the most popular beaches in San Francisco. Pet parents love to bring their puppers along so they can splash in the surf and dig in the sand. You can even let Fido off their leash here!

Bear in mind woofers are only welcome off-leash between Staircase 1 and 21, and they’ll have to be on-leash in any other section of the beach. If you're planning a trip to Ocean Beach, bring along some doggy bags to clean up after your canine. You should also watch that your pup doesn't eat or play with anything dangerous that might wash up on the shore.

Golden Gate National Recreation Area

Fancy getting out of the city for the day? Swing by Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Situated just north of San Fran across the Golden Gate Bridge, this nature area consists of over 80,000 acres of verdant forests, prairies, rolling hills, and so much more. Your doggo is welcome to accompany you along the trails as long as they're on a leash. Uniquely, some trails allow off-leash walks as long as your mutt responds well to voice commands

As one of the largest urban parks in the country, Golden Gate National Recreation Area features over 140 miles of trails to explore. One of the most popular dog-friendly trails in the park is 

Batteries Loop Trail, which weaves for half a mile over hilltops and affords stunning vistas of Rodeo Beach.

Mount Tamalpais State Park

Explore the Marin Hills with a visit to Mount Tamalpais State Park. While puppers aren't allowed on most trails at this park, they’re permitted on paved roads and a small selection of the trails. Despite not being allowed in certain areas, this park's beautiful scenery and mountain views make it well worth a trip. 

The best dog-friendly trail in Mount Tamalpais State Park is the Verna Dunshee Trail. This trail runs for over a mile in the shadow of Mount Tamalpais, ending at the Mount Tam East Peak Fire Look Out Station, which boasts stunning picture-perfect panoramas of Marin County and the greater Bay Area. 

If you fancy exploring some additional trials, take Bella for a stroll down the Old Stage Fire Road. This route leads to the Marin Municipal Water District, which contains several dog-friendly trails. 

After finishing your adventure, consider having a picnic or pitch a tent and spend the night star-gazing with your fur-baby. While at this state park, ensure you keep your doggo on a leash at all times, and don’t leave them unattended in the picnic areas or campgrounds. 

California Coastal Trail

A bayside trek with beautiful views of the Golden Gate Bridge is sure to put you and pupper in a “grrreat” mood. The California Coast Trail runs for over 8 miles from near the Golden Gate Welcome Center along the oceanfront to Lobos Creek. 

If you find your pup is overheating on this lengthy hike, you can always stop at Baker Beach along the way and let them cool off with a refreshing dip in the ocean. 

While strolling along this route, be on the lookout for rare bird species, including Townsend's warblers and Allen's hummingbirds. Dogs are permitted on the trail but have to be on a leash at all times. There are a few unshaded stretches on this trail, so ensure you bring along plenty of water for you and your mutt. 

Where to stay

San Francisco North/Petaluma KOA

The San Francisco North/ Petaluma KOA is one of the best dog-friendly campgrounds in San Francisco. Located about an hour north of SF, this campground is ideal if you're looking for a peaceful place to pitch a tent or park up your RV. 

One of the best features of this KOA is its on-site dog park, where your pupper can stretch their legs a mingle with other camping canines. There are some great amenities for humans here, too, with a hot tub, sauna, and snack bar for you to enjoy. Bear in mind Pit Bull and Pit Bull mixes are not allowed to camp at this KOA. 

Half Moon Bay State Beach

Half Moon Bay State Beach is an idyllic spot to go camping with dogs. Positioned just a short drive south of the city, Half Moon Bay State Beach features a pet-friendly beachside campground at Francis Beach. The campground has over 50 campsites for RVs and tents.

While Fido won't be able to go on the beach, they are allowed on the Coastal Trail as long as they're kept on a 6-foot leash. You'll also find the Coast Side Dog Park nearby where you can let your woofer roam freely.

Del Valle Regional Park

The Del Valle Regional Park near Livermore is sure to get your pupper's tail wagging. The park consists of over 4,000 acres of rolling hills and forests encircling the tranquil Lake Del Valle. The Del Valle Family Campground boasts over 150 campsites, which is well-equipped and ideal for camping or RVing with dogs.

You'll find dozens of miles of dog-friendly trails at this regional park. There are also plenty of relaxing activities for pet parents to enjoy, including fishing, boating, and nature watching. If you are planning on taking your pupper on Del Valle's trails, ensure you keep them on a 6-foot leash at all times and clean up after them. Your pooch also needs a license and proof of rabies vaccination.

Where to eat

If there's one thing most canines love more than exploring the great outdoors, it's chowing down on some tasty treats. San Francisco is one of the best cities in the country for pet-friendly dining, with dozens of pubs, bistros, and even breweries seating for pet parents and their four-legged friends. The majority of eateries in San Francisco will provide you with outdoor seating on patios and decks, with plenty of shade to protect you and Lucky from the Cali sunshine.

Most businesses will provide your doggo with water and even a little treat. Several restaurants in San Francisco also have a small menu aimed at dogs, with a range of pup-friendly entrees, so your woofer can join you for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. 

Where to roam 

San Francisco to Yosemite National Park

While taking a dog on a road trip through San Francisco, you might want to consider visiting one of California's world-famous national parks. The drive from San Francisco to Yosemite National Park is around 165 miles and should take a little over 3 hours. Due to the length of this drive, you'll want to book an overnight stay at one of Yosemite's dog-friendly campgrounds and stop for a comfort break along the journey. If you're looking for somewhere to stop midway through your trip, consider the Barkleyville Dog Park in Stockton, which boasts 3 separate off-leash areas, including an agility course.

Yosemite National Park is one of the most beautiful natural areas in the US, with mile after mile of sweeping valleys, snow-capped mountains, and lush forests. In order to protect the park's ecosystem, your pup won't be allowed on most off-road trails, but they are permitted on several paved and unmarked trails, including the Wawona Meadow Loop and Chowchilla Mountain Road.

Where to learn

San Francisco is home to dozens of exciting cultural and historical attractions, making it one of California's most popular holiday destinations. Unfortunately, you won't be able to bring your fur-baby along to some of these superb attractions. 

If you're looking for someone to watch your woofer for a couple of hours, why not book a San Francisco dog walker through Wag!? Your pooch will have a ball discovering a nearby park with one of these vetted walkers, leaving you free to enjoy some of San Francisco's best excursions.

Alcatraz Island

Alcatraz Island is one of SF's biggest attractions and is a must-see while in the city. One of the most infamous prisons in US history, Alcatraz, has sat abandoned since the early 1960s and has stood as a National Historic Landmark since the 1980s. 

After hopping off the ferry at Alcatraz, take a guided tour of the facility's interior to learn about its incredible history, from prison escapes to the Native American occupation of the 1970s. 

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Looking to test your artistic temperament? Swing by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. With over 30,000 drawings, paintings, and sculptures, this art museum is one of the best in California. 

While perusing the museum's collection, you'll see dozens of pieces by world-famous artists, including Frida Kahlo, Henri Matisse, and Andy Warhol. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art also hosts an array of temporary exhibits with incredible contemporary installations, so check what's on before you plan your visit. 

Aquarium of the Bay

Learn about what lurks in the water off San Francisco Bay at the Aquarium of the Bay. The exhibits at this aquarium focus mainly on local fish and marine mammals. 

One highlight from the aquarium is the Alcatraz underwater tunnel, where ten-foot-long sevengill sharks, rays, and sturgeon swim above your head. If you're looking to see some adorable animals, head to the river otter exhibit and watch these inquisitive critters play and enjoy a snack.

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