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Hidden Gems in the Bay Area (Silicon Valley, CA) for Dog Lovers

If you’re a dog owner, then you know that Fido is happiest when he’s with you. That unconditional loyalty and affection we receive from our canine companions are the reasons we love them, and if you’re in the San Francisco Bay area, you have a seemingly endless list of doggy day trip options. Go beyond the backyard and neighborhood walks – Plan an adventure for you and your best friend at one of these hidden gems for dog lovers!

Best Bay Area Dog Parks

Enjoy the fresh air, scenery, and off-leash spaces at the Point Isabel Regional Shoreline. There are stunning views of the San Francisco skyline for you to enjoy, and lots of room for your dog to roam freely and splash in the water. Just remember to have a leash at least six feet in length with you and to keep your fur baby within sight and voice control. The park has several bag stations so it’s easy and convenient to clean up after your dog. Stop by Mudpuppy’s Tub & Scrub for a quick bath and take a break at the Sit & Stay Cafe next door. There’s even a designated water fountain for dogs and a shaded gazebo for when the California sun gets too hot. The park opens at 8 a.m. and closes around sunset. 

Most state and county parks allow dogs on a leash, but that’s not true for residents inside the Sonoma city limits. That’s okay! Take your pooch to the Elizabeth Perron Dog Park located inside the Sonoma Valley Regional Park. The one-acre, wide-open green space is fenced and double-gated for dogs to run off-leash and socialize with other dogs. It’s a great dog park if your best friend tends to wander. The dog park is near the parking lot adjacent to the tennis courts. Sonoma Valley Regional Park charges a $7 fee for each vehicle, and you can stay as long as you like. The park is in Glen Ellen on the Sonoma Highway. 

Small dog owners know their fur babies can be intimidated by big dogs off-leash. Avoid the Dalmatians and Great Danes at the Alameda Small Dog Park. Only dogs 30 pounds or under are allowed. The grassy area has lots of trees for shade, a drinking fountain for your pooch, and restrooms for you. Poop scooping supplies are available, and there are always extra tennis balls lying around. Afterwards, you can stroll along the path that leads to the beach a short walk away to Crown Memorial State Park. Dogs aren’t allowed on the beach here, but you can walk them on-leash along the paved pathways. 

Tails and Trails

Dogs make great hiking companions, and if your four-legged friend is disciplined enough, you can both hike the trails in Redwood Regional Park that spans 1,830 acres within Oakland Hills. It’s one of the few public spaces that allow dogs to walk off-leash under voice command. There’s an extensive network of hiking trails, and dogs are only required to be on-leash for a section of the Dunn Trail in Serpentine Prairie and in the Stream Resource Protection Area where the rainbow trout have their spawning areas. As a plus, you’ll enjoy wandering among the towering redwoods of the area’s largest remaining strand of coastal redwoods. 

You’ll enjoy the views of the San Francisco Bay while walking your furry best friend along the Pulgas Ridge Open Space Preserve’s six miles of trails. The 366-acre open space preserve allows leashed dogs on all of their trails. The trails are especially popular with dog owners because dogs are allowed to run loose in a 17.5-acre off-leash area located less than half a mile from the entrance. Energetic dogs that tend to pull will walk more obediently along the marked trails. No water is provided, so be sure to pack a portable bowl and water. 

The Fremont Older Open Space Preserve is a true hidden gem for picnicking, fishing, horseback riding, and yes, walking your dog! The 1,541-acre park allows leashed dogs from the parking lot to the picnic areas and on the trails north of Calaveras Road. The park also has a spacious and expansive off-leash dog park. Let Fido play to his heart’s content, and then the two of you can high-tail it to a complex on-leash trail system if you enjoy more strenuous hiking. 

Bay Area Dog-Friendly Beaches

It would be remiss not to mention the Bay Area’s dog-friendly beaches. Be sure to check the rules before you go and pack food, water, bowls, treats (of course), a pooper scooper, doggie bags, and towels. 

The Buchanan Dog Beach is a small, calm beach good for dogs (and people) that tend to get overly hyper. Here, dogs can swim and play off-leash with their canine friends. 

Beaches don’t get any more friendly than the Bay Area’s Crissy Field. The designated off-leash area is spacious enough for your dog to get plenty of exercise. Take the tennis balls and play fetch! The beach is close to the city and has great views. 

Combine beaching and hiking at Muir Beach, about an hour’s drive north of San Francisco. The nearby coastal trail is a fantastic hike. Dogs have plenty of space in the designated off-leash area to run, chase balls, and swim. 

Dogs can frolic to their heart’s content at Bolinas Beach, popular for sunbathing, water sports, and bird watching. If your dog gets freaky around lots of people, make your dog-beach getaway a weekday because it tends to get busy on weekends.

If you and your dog aren’t interested in taking a swim, head to Fort Funston, a beautiful cliffside beach teeming with wildlife and boasting with gorgeous views. Dogs can play off-leash and splash in the tide, but swimming is not recommended.

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