Stinson Beach is one of the most popular day trips from San Francisco, but is it dog friendly? In this dog friendly Stinson Beach guide, you are going to find out how to visit Stinson Beach with your dog and other fun things to do to help you plan the perfect visit.
Is Stinson Beach Worth Visiting
As you drive along the steep and winding road towards Stinson Beach, you are just mesmerized by all of the natural coastline beauty. Slowly swerve around the rugged mountains, and take in the breathtaking views overlooking Stinson Beach.
On a clear sunny day, the sun glistens over the deep blue pacific ocean as it washes up on the white sandy beach. The view alone makes visiting Stinson beach worthwhile.
Parking at Stinson Beach
When visiting Stinson Beach in the summer, you should try to arrive early. Although it is a large parking lot, Stinson Beach’s lot fills up quickly before noon. If the lot is full, you can find some parking outside of the entrance of Stinson Beach as well.
Dog Friendly Stinson Beach Guide
As a dog owner, I get so excited when I find out popular destinations, like Stinson Beach, are dog friendly! Before we visited the small town, I had to do a little bit of digging for dog friendly things to do.
However, after doing our research and visiting, we learned that there are many amazing dog friendly hikes, beaches, and restaurants in Stinson Beach. I am looking forward to sharing our experiences and a dog friendly Stinson Beach Guide!
Dog Friendly Things to do Stinson Beach
Address: Walla Vista, Stinson Beach, CA
Pet Policy: Dogs permitted on North End of beach, see below for details
Is Stinson Beach dog friendly? Yes, you can bring your dog to Stinson Beach. However, before you visit, you should know that there are some rules when bringing your dog to Stinson Beach.
The policy on dogs at Stinson Beach is: Dogs are allowed on leash in the parking lot, picnic areas, and on the adjacent county beach. Pets are not allowed on the National Park Service section of the beach.
Dogs are only permitted on the North End of Stinson Beach. When you arrive at the entrance, you will see a sign directing you to the North End of the parking lot to the Pet Access portion of the beach. Don’t feel like you are missing out, the dog-friendly beach is just as beautiful as the rest of Stinson Beach.
Visiting the beach during your trip to Stinson Beach is an absolute must! Your dog will love running along the long sandy beach and splashing in the chilly ocean water.
At the entrance of North End beach, there is a restroom and a shower. The running water was great to help spray down our dog after his time rolling around in the sand and ocean.
Other Important Tips to Note When Visiting Stinson Beach:
- Stinson Beach is open year-round every day.
- The entrance gates open at 9:00 a.m. Closing times vary depending on the season.
- Parking is free
- Use the North Lot to access the dog friendly beach.
- Cars left in the parking lot after closing will be ticketed.
- Pets are not allowed on the National Park Service section of the beach
- Camping is not permitted
Stinson Beach Market
Address: 101 Calle del Mar, Stinson Beach, CA
Even though Stinson Beach is a popular location to visit, it is small, and there are only a few stores in town. The Stinson Beach Market is the go-to grocery store. The market has everything you could need from basic groceries, wine, a deli, produce, meats, and coffee. We stopped in and purchased some chocolate chip cookies and a selection of artisan cheeses to bring home with us.
The inside of the Stinson Beach Market is not dog friendly. However, the market is within walking distance of the beach. Pick up some snacks or sandwiches for a picnic on the beach or at the bench outside of the market.
Dog Friendly Restaurants Stinson Beach
Breakers Café is a cozy and laid-back restaurant in Stinson Beach that serves breakfast and lunch all day every day.
You can find all of the American classics with a Latin twist, including tacos, breakfast burritos, huevos rancheros, and omelets. They have a large outdoor patio with plenty of dog friendly tables available.
After exploring Stinson Beach, we decided to stop at Parkside Café for some lunch. The restaurant sits right along Stinson Beach. They have parking out front, or you can access the restaurant from the Stinson Beach parking lot.
Parkside offers everything you could possibly want at their café, snack bar, marketplace, and onsite bakery.
For quick service, they have a snack bar. The snack bar serves burgers, sandwiches, shakes, fries, and ice cream. Or order a wood-fired pizza, espresso, and some baked goods to go.
We choose to have our meal on their beautiful and welcoming outdoor patio with our dog Cash. We ordered a romesco hummus flatbread with curried cauliflower and prosciutto that was out this world delicious! Also, we got the mussels and clams and crab cake. Everything was so good! We will definitely be back again soon.
Know before you go: There are two other restaurants in Stinson Beach, the Sand Dollar Restaurant and Siren Canteen. However, at the time of this post, they are temporarily closed.
Dog Friendly Things to do Near Stinson Beach
Mount Tamalpais State Park
Pet Policy: Dogs are allowed only in developed areas on leash.
Mount Tamalpais State Park features sweeping views of the Marin County hills, San Francisco Bay and City, the East Bay, and Mount Diablo. Unfortunately, dogs are not allowed on most of the trails, dirt roads, and backcountry areas in the state park.
However, they are permitted on paved roads, including Verna Dunshee Trail and Old Stage Fire Road.
Even though most of the hikes at Mount Tamalpais are not dog friendly, the Verna Dunshee Trail still makes it worth a visit. The Verna Dunshee Trail is an easy family and dog friendly hike along a paved trail. The hike showcases gorgeous panoramic views of the Bay Area.
Leashed dogs are allowed on the Verna Dunshee Trail, Scenic Overlook, and Plank Walk Trail to the Gardner Fire Lookout. Tip: Bring $8 cash for parking, exact change is needed.
Address: Brighton Ave and Cliff Rd, Bolinas, CA
Parking: Street parking
Pet Policy: Dogs allowed off-leash
Bolinas Beach is an off-leash dog-friendly beach only a 15-minute drive from Stinson Beach. Off the beaten path, Bolinas is a quiet and secluded beach. Relax and watch the local surfers while your dog can play freely on the open sandy beach.
Cataract Falls Trail
Address: Cataract Trail, Stinson Beach, CA
Parking: Roadside parking is available
Pet Policy: Dogs must be on leash
Cataract Falls is a 2.8 mile out and back dog friendly trail near Stinson Beach. This hike features cascading waterfalls scattered throughout the trail. It’s best to visit Cataract Falls after a recent rainfall when the waterfalls are in full bloom.
It’s a short but steep trail with a significant elevation gain to the top. The picnic tables at the top of the trail are a great spot to have some lunch and take a break before you make your way back down. Dogs must be on a leash.
Address: 200 Pacific Way Muir Beach, CA
Pet Policy: Dogs can be off-leash
Muir Beach is one of our favorite beaches to visit in Marin county, and one that I can’t believe is also dog friendly! I stumbled upon Muir Beach one time while we were lost coming back from Muir Woods, and now it’s a beach we frequently visit with our dog Cash.
Muir Beach is 15 minutes from Stinson Beach. Every time we visit Muir Beach, I am blown away by its beauty. Tucked away in a secluded cove, Muir Beach’s picturesque landscape of rock formations, crashing waves, and sandy beach are some of the many reasons why this beach is a hidden gem.
Are dogs allowed at Muir Beach: Dogs can be off-leash as long as your dog stays within earshot and eyesight of the owner.
The only downfall to Muir Beach is the parking. If you visit on a sunny weekend day, the parking lot fills up pretty quickly. Do not park on the street leading up to Muir Beach, or you will get a ticket. Instead, go back and park along the main road.
Muir Beach Overlook
Address: Muir Beach Overlook, Muir Beach, CA
Pet Policy: Dogs allowed on leash
Just a two-minute uphill drive from Muir Beach is the Muir Beach Overlook. I did not realize the overlook existed until our recent visit to the Marin Headlands. The vista provides gorgeous panoramic views of the Pacific Coast and the Point Reyes Peninsula.
It’s a short path along the bluff to reach the overlook platform. As you walk the dirt trail, you are surrounded by stunning vistas.
When we were visiting, there was a group of people preparing for a wedding proposal on the overlook platform. I could not imagine a more beautiful and romantic location.
Is Muir Woods Dog Friendly?
Muir Beach and Muir Beach Overlook are close to the well-known and frequently visited Muir Woods National Monument. Muir Woods is a gorgeous and ancient redwood forest. I recommend you plan to visit to see the redwoods at some point. Unfortunately, dogs are not permitted at Muir Woods.
Tip know before you go: Cell service is terrible by Muir Beach, Muir Beach Overlook, and Muir Woods. If you are unfamiliar with the area, I suggest taking screenshots of your directions or of a map. You can easily get turned around back there. I have taken the wrong turn on more than one occasion.
Our Essential Dog Beach Accessories
Back Seat Cover: Getting sand out of your interior is a nightmare. If you plan on a pup beach day, you will absolutely need a cover to protect your back seats. We like this one because it is durable, waterproof, and prevents scratches on my husband’s leather seats.
Collapsible water bowl: We love this Ruffwear collapsable water bowl because it’s lightweight, waterproof, and big enough to be a food bowl. Also, it’s a lot more durable than the silicone bowls, our dogs chew those up after a couple of uses.
Extra Long Leash: When we go to the beach we like to keep our puppy on a leash since he still doesn’t have the best recall. We will use a 25 to 50 ft leash so he can still run and play safely in the water and sand nearby.
Absorbent Dog Towel: These absorbent towels are great after bath time, on the beach, or on any pup adventure. It’s our go-to travel towel because it soaks up fluid and is quick drying instead of a beach towel that will take hours to dry.
Portable Dog Paw Washer: Another must-have item for the beach that we keep in our car is a dog paw cleaner. It’s so simple but works wonders in keeping our car and house clean.
Stinson Beach Dog Friendly Hotels
There are a handful of hotels in Stinson Beach, including the Sandpiper Inn, Redwoods Haus Bed and Breakfast, and Stinson Beach Motel. Redwoods Haus B&B is the only one that is dog friendly.
The B&B looks a little dated and doesn’t have the best reviews, so instead, I would suggest booking another hotel outside of Stinson Beach.
Mill Valley Inn is 10 miles away from Stinson Beach and offers a complimentary Continental breakfast, mountain bikes, and a welcome bag full of local goodies and wine.
Another option would be to book an oceanfront shared home. VRBO & Airbnb offer a selection of dog frienldy accommodations either on the beach or a short walk away.
How to Get to Stinson Beach
Stinson Beach is an hour’s drive north of San Francisco. To get there, head north of the Golden Gate Bridge and then exit from Highway 101 onto Highway 1 and continue to Stinson Beach.
On your way to Stinson Beach, make a stop at Battery Spencer for one of the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge. And it’s also dog friendly!
Pros & Cons of Visiting Stinson Beach With Your Dog
Pros Dog Friendly Stinson Beach
- Easy to get to day trip from San Francisco
- There are plenty of other dog frienldy locations to visit nearby
- The restaurants in Stinson Beach are also dog frienldy
- Dog friendly beachfront shared homes are available for rent
Cons Dog Friendly Stinson Beach
- Only a portion of Stinson Beach is dog frienldy
- Parking spots fill up on the summer weekends
- Limited dog frienldy hotels in Stinson Beach, but can stay at a shared home or hotel outside of the town instead.
Other Bay Area Dog Friendly Desitinations
Northern California is full of awesome dog friendly destinations!! Some of our favorites are the beaches in Half Moon Bay or dog friendly things to do in Santa Cruz, wine tasting in Paso Robles, or you can explore Death Valley with my dog-friendly guide.
Or feeling adventurous? Plan a trip glamping with your pup in northern California. There are so many unique and stunning glamping sites that are also pet friendly!
In Conclusion: Dog Friendly Stinson Beach
In conclusion, should you bring your dog to Stinson Beach? After our visit, I believe that Stinson Beach is the perfect location for dog owners and their four-legged friends.
I hope you have enjoyed this dog friendly Stinson Beach guide and will be visiting the gorgeous California coast soon!