Dog Parks + Dog-Friendly Beaches in North County (2017 Guide)

dog park beach san diego north county

Folks who live in North County San Diego have tons of opportunities for outdoor activities within just a short driving distance, including some of the best beaches and parks in the county. However, most beaches and many parks are not dog friendly, which means we often have to leave our best pal at home when we head out for a day at the beach or a picnic with friends.

Some cities, like Del Mar, Vista and Encinitas, are more dog friendly than others, but no matter where you live in North County, there is a dog park or dog-friendly beach just a short drive away. Be sure to check the notes to see which of these are actual dog parks and dog beaches and which are simply dog-friendly spots that allow leashed dogs.

For example, while the City of Encinitas does not allow dogs on any beaches, leashed dogs are welcome in all of the city parks, and some of the parks have designated off-leash hours. The City of Vista also allows on-leash dogs in all city parks. In Carlsbad, dogs are not allowed in city parks (except for the two designated dog parks) or on beaches; however, leashed pups are allowed on the citywide trail system.

Dog Parks Beaches: North County San Diego Coastal

(Del Mar to Oceanside)

The San Diego Humane Society & SPCA Dog Park

This great space to play with your pooch has separate areas for more active dogs and less active dogs, so your rambunctious pup or old timer can enjoy themselves with like-minded pals.

  • 2905 San Luis Rey Road,  Oceanside
  • Open: Daily from 7:00am to 7:00pm
  • Off-Leash Hours: Unleashed dogs are always allowed.

Luiseno Park

Luiseno Park is not technically a dog park, but they do have a dog walking area where you can enjoy a stroll with your leashed pets.

  • Douglas Drive and Vandergrift Boulevard, Oceanside
  • Open: 6:00am to 9:00pm
  • Off-Leash Hours: Dogs must be leashed at all times.

Guajome County Park

This pet-friendly park and campground is a great choice if you are looking for a place where you can take your dogs camping with you. While dogs are not allowed on the trails, they are allowed on paved areas and in the camping areas. Whether you are visiting for day-use or overnight camping, be sure to bring your dog’s shot records, current tags and a leash that is no longer than six feet in length. It is also important to note that you must attend your dogs at all times, which means you cannot head out for a hike and leave them at your campsite. There is an additional park-use fee of $1.00 per dog.

  • 3000 Guajome Lake Road, Oceanside
  • Open: 9:30am to Sunset
  • Off-Leash Hours: Dogs must be leashed at all times.

Buccaneer Beach Park

Dogs are not allowed on Buccaneer Beach, which is adjacent to the park, but they are allowed in the park if they are leashed.

  • 1506 S. Pacific Street, Oceanside
  • Open: 9:00am to 6:00pm
  • Off-Leash Hours: Dogs must be leashed at all times.

Ann D. L’Heureux Memorial Dog Park

This 13,200-square-foot, fenced dog park has a dog drinking fountain, benches and a short trail that connects it to Hidden Canyon Park.

  • 2700 Carlsbad Village Drive, Carlsbad
  • Open: Daily
  • Off-Leash Hours: Off-leash dogs are allowed at all times.

Alga Norte Community Park

This off-leash dog park is located in a 32-acre community park with an aquatic center, play areas and sports fields. Dogs are allowed in the dog park section of the park, which has separate areas for large and small dogs, a dog training area and agility props.

  • 6565 Alicante Road, Carlsbad
  • Open: Daily
  • Off-Leash Hours: Off-leash dogs are allowed at all times in the designated dog park.

Bressi Ranch Dog Park

Rumor has it that this dog park was built for the enjoyment of Bressi Ranch residents; however, it is not in a gated area and non-residents seem to use it regularly. We are including it on this list because it is a North County dog park that can be accessed, but be aware that locals may or may not be welcoming.

  • 2565 Dogwood Road, Carlsbad
  • Open: Daily
  • Off-Leash Hours: Unleashed dogs area always allowed.

Sun Vista Park

The off-leash area includes only the east side of the park, so steer clear of other areas when playing fetch or wrestling with your pup in the grass.

  • 2011 Avenida la Posta, Encinitas
  • Open: Daily
  • Off-Leash Hours: Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays from 6:00am to 9:am and from 3:00pm to 8:00pm

Village Park Trail and Off-Leash Area

This is a mostly fenced, sort of undeveloped off-leash area for dogs and their people to enjoy.

  • Between Encinitas Boulevard and Mountain Vista along El Camino Real, Encinitas
  • Open: Daily
  • Off-Leash Hours: Off-leash are dogs always allowed.

Encinitas Viewpoint Park

Viewpoint Park offers great shade, plenty of grass and picnic areas for you and your dog to enjoy.

  • Cornish Drive and D Street, Encinitas
  • Open: Daily
  • Off-Leash Hours: Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays from 6:00am to 9:00am and from 3:00pm to 8:00pm

Orpheus Park

This park offers plenty of paths, grass and shady areas for spending the afternoon hanging out with your best four-legged pal.

  • 482 Orpheus Avenue, Encinitas
  • Open: Daily
  • Off-Leash Hours: Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 6:00am to 7:30am and 3:00pm to 8:00pm
    Sundays from 6:00am to 9:00am and 3:00pm to 8:00pm

Cricket’s Corner

Cricket’s Corner is a fully fenced, off-leash dog park that is just under one acre and has shade trees, seating, water fountains and a segregated area for smaller pooches to play with other dogs their size. This particular dog park can even be reserved for special events, so you might want to keep it in mind for your next doggie birthday party.

  • 389 Requeza Street, Encinitas (at the Rancho Coastal Humane Society)
  • Open: Wednesday through Sunday from 11:00am to 4:30pm
  • Off-Leash Hours: Wednesday through Sunday from 11:00am to 4:30pm

Maggie Houlihan Memorial Dog Park

The Maggie Houlihan Memorial Dog Park is a two-acre space dedicated to dogs and dog lovers in Encinitas Community Park. There is a show circle, a large turf area, and separate, fenced areas for large dogs, small dogs and shy dogs. Visitors here will find everything you need for a fun afternoon with your pooch, including benches, water stations and bags for cleaning up after your pets.

  • 425 Santa Fe Drive, Encinitas
  • Open: 5:00am to 10:00pm
  • Off-Leash Hours: Off-leash dogs are always allowed.

Cardiff State Beach North

If your pup loves the water, and you are looking for a beautiful beach you can enjoy together, Cardiff State Beach welcomes on-leash dogs at Cardiff State Beach North south of lifeguard tower 16.

  • One mile south of Cardiff on Old Highway 101
  • Open: Daily from Dawn to Sunset
  • Off-Leash Hours: Dogs must be leashed at all times.

River Mouth Beach

This is one of just a few North County beaches that allow dogs at all, but off-leash play is only allowed in the off season between September 15 and June 15. During the summer months when the beach is filled with more locals and tourists, dogs must be kept on their leashes when playing in the sand or surf.

  • Highway 101 south of Border Avenue, Solana Beach
  • Open: Daily
  • Off-Leash Hours: Off-leash dogs are allowed on the beach between September 15 and June 15 but must be on leash between June 16 and September 14.

Del Mar North Beach Area (aka Del Mar Dog Beach)

Del Mar’s North Beach area is one of the most popular hangouts for pups and their people. While leashed dogs are allowed throughout the year, dogs that are under voice control can be off leash at the beach between the day after Labor Day and June 15th. This dog-friendly beach even holds special dog-related events, such as the Helen Woodward Animal Center’s Surf Dog Surf-a-Thon.

  • 29th Street to Solana Beach border, Del Mar
  • Open: Year-round to leashed dogs (six-foot leash maximum), seasonal for off leash
  • Off-Leash Hours: All hours between the day after Labor Day and June 15th

Del Mar Main Beach Area

This is another popular beach destination for North County dog lovers, but your furry friend does need to stay on a leash that is six feet in length or less while visiting.

  • Northern end of Powerhouse Park to 29th Street, Del Mar
  • Open: Open to dogs during regular hours from the day after Labor Day to June 15th
  • Off-Leash Hours: Dogs must be leashed at all times.

Del Mar South Beach Area

Although your pooch does need to stay on her leash at this beach, it is a great place to bring your dog for a walk on the beach or to hang out with their furry pals.

  • Powerhouse Park south to Torrey Pines at 6th Street, Del Mar
  • Open: Daily
  • Off-Leash Hours: Dogs must be leashed at all times.

Seagrove Park

This family-friendly park is the perfect place to picnic with your leashed pups and is just steps away from dog-friendly Del Mar beaches. Leashed dogs are allowed in this park throughout the year.

  • Above 15th Street surf break, Del Mar
  • Open: 7:00am to 10:00pm
  • Off-Leash Hours: Dogs must be leashed at all times.

Powerhouse Park

Like nearby Seagrove Park, leashed dogs are welcome in Powerhouse Park throughout the year for picnics, play dates and family gatherings. At the south end of Powerhouse Park there is a tot lot where dogs are not allowed, so just steer clear of that area while visiting the park and nearby beaches.

  • Above 15th Street surf break, Del Mar
  • Open: Daily
  • Off-Leash Hours: Dogs must be leashed at all times.

Del Mar Shores Park

This park is open, but folks are still working on how best to share this space and make it a community asset with multiple purposes; therefore, you might want to make sure the off-leash hours have not changed before heading over there to enjoy some quality time with your dog.

    • Stratford Court and 9th Street, Del Mar
    • Open: Check website for current hours
    • Off-Leash Hours: Monday through Sunday from 6:00am to 8:30am
      Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 4pm to dusk

Dog Parks Beaches: North County San Diego Inland

(Rancho Bernardo to Escondido)

Torrey Hills Dog Park (aka Dirty Dogs Dog Park)

Torrey Hills Dog Park is operated by and located next to Dirty Dogs self-wash dog wash. Currently this fenced dog park has a water fountain, benches and some shade. Future plans include creating a separate area to have spaces for large and small dogs, as well as a dog training area. Visitors to the dog park can stop in to Dirty Dogs for a complimentary dog treat.

  • 4639 Carmel Mountain Road, San Diego (Carmel Valley)
  • Open: Daily
  • Off-Leash Hours: Off-leash dogs are always allowed.

Mayflower Dog Park

Mayflower Dog Park is a fenced, 1.5-acre space where dogs and their people can go to socialize and play off leash. Visit the park’s Web page for park rules and additional information.

  • 3420 Valley Center Road, Escondido
  • Open: Daily from dawn to 9:00pm
  • Off-Leash Hours: Dawn to 9:00pm

Kit Carson Park

Dogs are not allowed in most areas of this park; however, leashed dogs are allowed in the undeveloped areas of the park and on sidewalks in Kit Carson Park during posted hours.

  • 3333 Bear Valley Parkway, Escondido
  • Open: Sunrise to Sunset
  • Off-Leash Hours: Dogs must be leashed at all times.

San Pasqual Battlefield State Historic Park

Visitors to the park are welcome to bring their dogs as long as they make sure to keep them on a six-foot leash or shorter and to clean up after them during their visit.

  • 15808 San Pasqual Valley Road, Escondido
  • Open: The park is officially open on Saturdays and Sundays but can be accessed during the week.
  • Off-Leash Hours: Dogs must be on leash at all times.

Live Oak Dog Park

This new dog park is the only dedicated, off-leash space for dogs and their owners in Fallbrook and came to fruition by the efforts of a group of volunteers. There is a $3.00 charge for single-day use or you can purchase an annual pass for $25.00. The annual pass can be purchased from rangers at the park or the single-day fee can be placed in the available envelopes and deposited in the yellow posts. The money from the passes is used for maintenance and upkeep of the park.

  • 2746 Reche Road, Fallbrook
  • Open: Thursday through Monday, 8:00am to Sunset
  • Off-Leash Hours: Off-leash dogs are always welcome.

William Heise County Park

Dogs are not allowed in the area surrounding the cabins in William Heise County Park, but they are allowed in other areas and on the trails. At this park, your pooch must always be on a leash that is no longer than six feet. Before you go, make sure you have $3.00 in cash on you for the day-use parking fee.

  • 4945 Heise Park Road, Julian
  • Open: 9:30am to Sunset
  • Off-Leash Hours: Dogs must be on leash at all times.

Poway Dog Park

While the Poway Community Park is actually only open until sunset, the lighted, off-leash dog area is open until 10:00pm for those late-night play dates. This great dog park has a dog lick faucet, benches and three fenced areas for pups to play in the 1.75-acre off-leash area. The fenced areas can also be reserved for dog birthday parties and other social gatherings.

  • 13094 Civic Center Drive, Poway (in Poway Community Park)
  • Open: Daily from Sunrise to 10:00pm
  • Off-Leash Hours: Off-leash dogs are allowed at all times in fenced areas.

San Diego Country Estates Dog Park

This newer dog park with separate, fenced areas for large dogs and small dogs is located in the master-planned community of San Diego Country Estates for the enjoyment of community residents and their guests.

  • 23502 Bassett Way, Ramona
  • Open: Daily
  • Off-Leash Hours: Off-leash dogs are always welcome.

Rancho Bernardo Dog Park

Rancho Bernardo Dog Park is a 2.66-acre dedicated space for dogs and their people within Rancho Bernardo Community Park. There are three separate, fenced dog runs that each have a spigot, toxin-free hose and water bowl available for visitors. The park also has benches, trees and dispensers offering biodegradable, disposable clean-up bags.

  • 18448 W. Bernardo Drive, San Diego
  • Open: Dawn to Dusk; except Thursday mornings when it is closed from 10:00 to noon
  • Off-Leash Hours: Off-leash dogs are always welcome within the designated dog park.

Rancho Peñasquitos Dog Park

Rancho Peñasquitos Dog Park is a one-acre, off-leash park with separate, fenced areas for large dogs and small dogs. It is located across the street from the library and has street parking and benches for people visiting with their dogs.

  • Salmon River Road and Fairgrove Lane, Rancho Peñasquitos
  • Open: Dawn to Dusk
  • Off-Leash Hours: Off-leash dogs are always welcome within the dog park.

San Elijo Dog Park

San Elijo Park has playgrounds, ball fields, a recreation center and picnic areas for people to enjoy, as well as a fenced, off-leash dog area and trails where you can walk or jog with your pooch.

  • San Elijo Road and Elfin Forest Road, San Marcos
  • Open: Daily
  • Off-Leash Hours: Off-leash dogs are allowed at all times in the off-leash area.

Hollandia Dog Park

Hollandia Dog Park offers separate, fenced areas for large dogs and small dogs, as well as trails where you can walk your furry friends. The play areas here are dirt, but they do have an area to rinse off dusty dogs, and they also have water stations and lights so that the fun does not have to stop when the sun goes down.

  • 12 Mission Hills Court, San Marcos
  • Open: Sunrise – 10:00pm
  • Off-Leash Hours: Off-leash dogs are allowed at all times in the dog park.

Sunset Dog Park

This small dog park is located within the larger Sunset Park with play structures, a splash pad and sports fields. Leashed pooches are allowed to explore most of the park with their owners and can be off leash within the designated dog runs, which are located near the west entrance. There are separate areas for large and small dogs, benches and a little bit of shade. This is another dirt park, so be ready for dusty dogs on the ride home.

  • 3337 La Mirada Drive, San Marcos
  • Open: Sunrise to Sunset
  • Off-Leash Hours: Off-leash dogs are always welcome within the dog park.

Montiel Park

This relatively small dog park has shade for pups and covered tables for people, which is a nice addition. However, small dog owners will need to feel confident that their little ones can run with the big dogs, because there is just one open area with no separate enclosures for dogs of different sizes.

  • 2290 Montiel Road, San Marcos
  • Open: Daily
  • Off-Leash Hours: Off-leash dogs are always welcome within the fenced dog park.

Torrey Highlands Dog Park

This large, one-acre dog park is fully fenced and offers both dirt and grass for your pups’ play time. There are not separate areas for dogs of different sizes, so be sure your large dogs play well with small dogs and that your smaller dogs can hold their own when running with big dogs. There are pooper scoopers available to clean up after your dogs and a water station.

  • Landsdale Drive, San Diego (behind Torrey Pines High School)
  • Open: Daily
  • Off-Leash Hours: Off-leash dogs are always welcome in the dog park.

South Buena Vista Park

Vista residents benefit from living in a city that allows leashed dogs in all of its parks, but if you are looking for a place where your dog can run and play off leash, South Buena Vista Park is your destination of choice. During off-leash hours, you and your furry friends can explore walking trails, hang out in the ample shade, or make a pit stop at the water fountain or dispensers for clean-up bags.

  • 1602 Mountain Pass Circle, Vista
  • Open: Daily
  • Off-Leash Hours: Daily from 7:00am to 10:00am
  • Additional winter hours are from 3:00pm to dusk.
  • Additional summer hours are from 4:00pm to dusk.

Do you know of any North County dog parks or dog beaches that should be included in this guide? Contact us here or comment below.

AJ Davis-Varela: AJ is a freelance writer and blogger at Articles by AJ specializing in travel, real estate, natural wellness and green living. She is a magazine columnist, a former San Diego newspaper columnist, has been published in a variety of print and online publications, and regularly contributes to several websites and blogs. You can connect with AJ on LinkedIn, Twitter or Google+