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Best Dog-friendly Beaches Near Cambria California: Great Central Coast Activities For You and Your Dog

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Sunset at dog-friendly Cayucos pier
Cayucos Pier

Are you looking to find the best dog-friendly beaches near Cambria? We’ve got some great on and off-leash options for you on the California Central Coast.

Most people are familiar with the So. Cal beaches in LA and San Diego. However, California’s central coast is more of a local gem known for its picturesque coastline, with rugged cliffs, stunning ocean views, and miles of pristine beaches. And what could be better than enjoying all that beauty with your favorite four-legged companion by your side? With year-round temperate weather and a relaxed beach vibe, the California central coast is the perfect destination for dog lovers. 

Since we live about 3 hours north, this region is one of our favorite places for a dog-friendly weekend getaway around the Bay Area. In 20 years of visits, we have never run out of new things to do or tire of returning to our favorites! With so many dog-friendly beaches, Cambria and the surrounding area is pretty high up there on the list for Sam and Denver too.

We’ll take a look at the top dog-friendly beaches between Cambria and Morro Bay on the California central coast, where you can enjoy some quality time with your pet and explore the stunning natural beauty of this amazing region. From secluded coves to wide stretches of sand, these beaches offer something for every type of dog and their owner. So pack your sunscreen, grab your leash, and get ready to discover some of the best dog-friendly beaches in California!

Some dogs have a difficult time getting into the car, but If they knew about all the amazing places to explore, they would hop right in.

Dog-Friendly Beaches near Cambria

Located on California’s Central Coast, Cambria is about 40 minutes north of San Luis Obispo (SLO) and almost halfway between San Francisco and LA at about 3 1/2 hours in either direction.

If you are flying with your dog to California, I can recommend arriving in Los Angeles, driving down this stunning coastline and departing out of San Francisco. It would make a perfect 1-2 week trip.

California doesn’t have great public transportation options, so you will need your own or a rental car


Moonstone Beach (boardwalk): Dog-friendly walks on-leash

Person at Moonstone Beach Boardwalk on a walk with 2 dogs standing by a cypress tree
Moonstone Beach Boardwalk

If you’re a dog owner and looking for the perfect spot to spend a relaxing day by the sea, the Moonstone Beach boardwalk in Cambria is the place to be. Moonstone Beach itself is off-limits to dogs since most of the beach is protected as a marine sanctuary.

The picturesque views of the Pacific Ocean are breathtaking, and with the boardwalk being pet-friendly, you can bring your furry best friend on a leash along for the adventure. With a gentle ocean breeze and the sound of waves crashing against the cliffs below, you and your dog can take a leisurely stroll on the boardwalk that runs for a couple of miles right along the coastline.

The boardwalk is also lined with benches, making it a great spot to sit and watch the sunset with your pup by your side. The windswept cypress trees also make for a unique landscape to captivate your attention. There are lots of great dog beaches around the world, but this is definitely a top contender in the beauty category.

Shamel Park: Fun for the whole pack

Shamel Park has both a grassy area and a beach for dogs

I was a big fan of that area because the park was a fantastic place to spend the afternoon. I don’t think I’m alone since dogs regularly came and went. Sometimes they enjoyed playing on the large expanse of grass. Other times they head down to the beach cove. This is not an off-leash designated area although many dogs were.

Denver had a blast in Shamel Park because he could tear back and forth between us across the grass.

The park is great for a family to spend the entire day because there are picnic tables with grills and a playground for kids and clean bathrooms.

San Simeon Pier and Cove:

Elephant seals on the beach in San Simeon
Elephant seals like to hang out here

At San Simeon Cove, you can enjoy a day at Hearst Memorial State Beach with your furry friend! While leash laws are strictly enforced in parking and picnic areas, dogs on a leash are welcome on the beach.

For a more scenic adventure, check out the dog-friendly trail hidden among the eucalyptus, pine, and cypress trees on the bluff overlooking San Simeon Cove. The trail offers stunning views of the coastline, and the entrance can be found on the beach shortly after the creek. After an initial climb up the bluff, the path becomes an easy stroll in the shade, perfect for a leisurely afternoon walk with your furry companion.

Leashed dogs are welcome to walk along the pier, enjoy the views and keep an eye out for lots of birds and sea life including otters, sea lions, and sometimes whales.

Leashed dogs are allowed on the trails above the beach where the elephant seals make their home, but no humans or pets are allowed on the beach.

Cayucos Beach: Dog-friendly on-leash romp

2 dogs standing on driftwood at dog-friendly Cayucos Beach
Sam and Denver enjoying Cayucos Beach

Cayucos Beach, on the Central Coast of California, is perfect for dog owners and their pups.

With a long stretch of sandy beach, you and your dog can run, play, and dig to your heart’s content. The beach is also surrounded by rocks with tide pools, providing a unique opportunity for you and your dog to explore and discover the sea creatures that call the tide pools home.

The pier is also a popular spot for fishing, and you and your pup can take a leisurely walk out to the end to take in the stunning views of the coastline. Chris and I think it is an exceptionally beautiful place to hold hands and watch the sunset before returning to the beach. The dogs think the beach is more fun.

Whether you’re looking to play, explore, or take in the views Cayucos Beach has it all, making it the perfect spot for a dog-friendly evening.

Morro Bay Dog Beach: Unleashed fun with your dog

Dogs playing at leash-free Morro Bay Dog Beach

If you’re a dog owner looking for the perfect place to take your dog for some off-leash fun, Morro Bay Dog Beach should definitely be at the top of your list. This off-leash beach provides ample space for dogs to run and play in the long, sandy expanse.

There is a lot of driftwood on the beach. It can get in the way of some dogs, but others seem to enjoy the smaller sticks.

Even though it’s a little outside of town, this beach is a popular spot with people who live in the area, so you’ll also have the chance to meet up with local dog owners and their pets who frequent this spot. Who knows, your pup might even be invited to join in on some fun with the other dogs.

That was a little tricky for Denver since he is pretty small, and many of the dogs were large labs or huskies. He was a little intimidated but in the end, he found a friend with a mini-doodle that was more his size.

Morro Bay Dog Beach is definitely worth checking out.

Dog-friendly beach etiquette 

  1. Pick up after your dog
  2. Let your furry friend roam free, but only in the designated off-leash areas. 
  3. Make sure they’re trained and responsive to your commands before unclipping that leash.
  4. Don’t be that person with the annoying dog at the beach. Keep an eye on your pup and make sure they’re not bothering any strangers.
  5. Your dogs gotta go when they gotta go, but it’s your responsibility to clean up after them. Keep those beach vibes positive by bringing along some bags and scooping that poop. No one wants to step in that!
  6. Keep the community healthy by making sure your dogs are up to date on all their vaccinations and registered properly.
  7. Before you hit the beach, check out the rules specific to that spot. Not all dog-friendly beaches have the same expectations
  8. Take your cues from the crowd. What are the locals doing?

Beach Trip Packing List

Sometimes the difference between a great trip and a bust is if you have the right equipment with you.

Cambria Weather: What is the best time of year to visit Cambria, CA? 

Cambria’s weather is perfect for visitors who want to experience mild and pleasant temperatures throughout the year. The coastal town experiences a Mediterranean climate with cool, moist winters and warm, dry summers.

While there is really never a bad time to visit, the best time to visit Cambria is between September and November and then again in the Spring when the rain subsides.

During fall and spring, the weather is still sunny and comfortable, but the summer crowds have thinned out. During this time, visitors can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, and exploring the beautiful beaches and parks in the area.

Cambria’s weather offers the perfect backdrop for a memorable trip since you are always comfortable and your dog won’t overheat.

San Luis Obispo to Cambria: How to get there?

Road signs in Cambria showing hwy 1 and a dog park
Sign in Cambria

If you’re planning a visit to Cambria, California, you won’t want to miss the scenic drive from San Luis Obispo leaving off Hwy 101.

The route takes you through stunning hills and canyons, passing by beautiful oak trees and enchanting moss hanging from the branches. The drive itself is an experience, and you’ll find yourself captivated by the natural beauty around every turn.

The journey to Cambria from SLO takes around 40 minutes by car, but it’s important to note that public transportation is not ideal for this region, and you’ll want your own vehicle to fully appreciate the scenery.

If you don’t have a car, I strongly recommend you rent a car if you want to be able to fully explore the region.

Banner encouraging people to tell their story with two dogs in the photo

Other Dog-friendly Fun near Cambria

Fiscaline Ranch Preserve

2 terriers standing on a bench at dog-friendly Fiscaline Ranch Preserve

This beautiful 430-acre coastal preserve features miles of scenic trails with stunning ocean views and abundant wildlife.

Dogs are welcome to join you on the trails, as long as they’re on a leash, and there are plenty of opportunities for them to explore and sniff. Our pups wanted to smell everything. We really enjoyed the wide trails and variety of ecosystems in one walk.

You’ll both love the fresh sea air, the sound of the waves crashing against the cliffs, and the peacefulness of the rugged coastline. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or just looking for a leisurely stroll, Fiscalini Ranch Preserve is a must-visit destination for dog owners looking to explore the natural beauty of California’s central coast with their furry companions.

Morro Bay State Park

Border terrier standing next to rock carins at Morro Bay State Park
A study in camouflage

It’s essential to keep your dog on a leash while near the estuary area near Morro Bay beach, as this area is home to a variety of wildlife, including otters, birds, and sea lions. It’s crucial to respect the natural habitats of these animals and avoid disturbing them by keeping your dog on a leash.

Now that Sam is older, his prey drive is a lot less than it used to be. We didn’t take him to visit this area when he was younger because we wouldn’t want him to try to jump into the estuary to swim after the otters. Now, he is calmer and wiser in his old age and enjoys sniffing all the interesting new smells. You have to know if your dog can handle being surrounded by wildlife.

There is a stunning and easy walking path that continues to the rocky outcropping that connects the open ocean with the estuary.

At the end of the trail, there are craggy rocks and large waves can be hazardous for both dogs and their owners, especially during high tide or rough sea conditions. We actually stayed pretty far back from the edge of the cliffs because the waves were crashing over with such force that our dogs could easily have been swept away. If you stay a safe distance back, it can be a magical experience.

People regularly break the leash rules on the Central Coast. In this particular place, keeping your dog on a leash is not only safer for them but also for other beachgoers and wildlife. So, make sure to keep your dog close and under control, while exploring Morro Bay Beach to ensure a fun and safe day out for everyone.

S’mores on the Beach

Bonfire in the evening at Cayucos Beach
Bonfires are allowed at Cayucos Beach

When the sun sets over Cayucos Beach, the fun is just beginning!

Grab your pup, some blankets, and a jacket because it’s time to start a bonfire on the beach. There’s no better way to spend an evening than huddled around a warm fire with friends, family, and of course, your furry best friend.

The sound of the waves crashing against the shore and the warmth of the fire creates the perfect ambiance for a relaxing and enjoyable night.

Don’t forget the s’mores fixings! Roasting marshmallows and making s’mores over the fire is a quintessential beach bonfire activity. So why not add a little warmth and sweetness to your next Cayucos Beach adventure and start a bonfire with your pup by your side?

Dog-friendly Weekend Getaway from the Bay Area to Cambria

Pet-Friendly Hotels Near Cambria

Cambria Pines Lodge

The entrance to dog friendly Cambria Pines Lodge
The hotel cat is waiting out front to welcome you

There is a low per-reservation fee for up to two pets, you can bring your furry friends along for the adventure.

They also provide an extensive list of dog-friendly trails in the area, plus referrals for pet sitters when you need a little alone time.

Please note that dogs weighing 50 pounds and more may be allowed at the lodge’s discretion, and you must obtain approval at the time of your reservation.

The forested grounds offer a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Make sure to call 1-800-966-6490 to let them know you are bringing a pet.

This charming nature-focused lodge welcomes well-mannered dogs and cats, and we even have a private onsite dog park for your pup to enjoy!

Cambria Shores Inn

Norwich terrier standing on a wall in front of dog friendly  Cambria Shores Inn

The location is fantastic. It is situated right across the street from the stunning Moonstone Beach Boardwalk, offering unbeatable ocean views and breathtaking sunsets.

Their website tagline says, “we love our canine friends“, and they offer a welcome basket for your furry companion upon arrival.

With no limit on the number of dogs you can bring, they are a perfect choice for families with multiple pets. They do charge a fee per pet.

While your pup is welcome to lounge next to you while you sit on the deck chairs with you as you soak up the ocean views and sea breeze, they expect dogs to remain on a leash and not be left unattended in rooms.

Shoreline Inn on the Beach – Cayucos

Border terrier standing in front of pet-friendly Shoreline Inn on the Beach in Cayucos

Shoreline Inn on the Beach in Cayucos is a pet-friendly hotel. They encourage guests to bring their furry companions along for the ride and offer many special touches.

Guest rooms are equipped with a special towel to dry off your pet after a day at the beach, a pet bowl, and extra sheets to protect the bedspreads if your buddy likes to cuddle up at night.

But the pet-friendly perks don’t stop there. Guests are welcome to enjoy walks and playtime with their pets on our pet-friendly beach. The friendly front desk staff is happy to provide suggestions for local pet services, such as grooming and dog-sitting, to ensure your pet’s stay is just as comfortable as yours.

Please note that a fee per stay will be charged at check-in for one pet with a slight increase for two, For everyone’s safety and comfort, pets must never be left unattended in the room or on the balcony/patio at any time. They must be on a leash at all times, both throughout the property and on the beach.

456 Embarcadero Inn & Suites – Morro Bay

Norwich terrier standing in front of pet friendly 56 Embarcadero Inn & Suites
456 Embarcadero Inn & Suites

456 Embarcadero Inn & Suites is a good choice for travelers looking for a comfortable and dog-friendly stay in Morro Bay. They have a nightly pet fee, and guests can bring up to two dogs per room, each weighing up to 60 lbs.

Upon booking, it’s recommended to call and ensure one of the pet rooms is available.

Dogs are not allowed to be unattended in guest rooms at any time, as a courtesy to other guests, but must be on a leash when in public areas.

The inn also offers great suggestions for pet sitters, dog walkers, and dog-friendly places to eat in the area.

Located just outside of the downtown bustle and right across from the harbor, 456 Embarcadero Inn & Suites is the perfect base for exploring Morro Bay with your furry friend.

Dog-friendly restaurants near Cambria

Linn’s Restaurant: Pies and paws

olallieberry pie on patio table with a border terrier
The olallieberry pie put Linn’s on the map

Linn’s Restaurant and Bakery in Cambria is a must-visit destination for anyone with a sweet tooth.

The restaurant is famous for its delicious Olallieberry pie, which has started a trend for other Olallieberry dishes. We enjoyed the Olallieberry burger special with Olallieberry sauce, which was absolutely mouth-watering.

While dining is indoor only, there are a few tables outside for bakery items. You can also grab a slice of their pie and take it to Moonstone boardwalk to enjoy the view with your furry friend by your side.

Sandy’s Deli: Awesome sandwiches on a pet-friendly patio

Sandy's Deli and Maddie Mae's Pet Pantry in downtown Cambria
Sandy’s Deli and Maddie Mae’s Pet Pantry are Neighbors

Sandy’s Deli in Cambria is a must-visit for sandwich lovers. Their slogan, “We Build An Awesome Sandwich”, is an understatement. The ingredients are fresh, high-quality, and delicious. I really liked their bacon sandwich on a croissant. Sam says he would have really liked it if I had shared.

The outdoor patio dining area is perfect for enjoying your meal with your furry friend by your side. The friendly staff and relaxed atmosphere make Sandy’s Deli a great place to grab a bite in Cambria.

Right next door was a fabulous pet store, Maddie Mae’s Pet Pantry. I was really impressed with their high quality and variety of inventory. Tons of new collars are lined up by the front door. Maybe you can find a new flair for your furry friend once you finish your lunch.

Robin’s Restaurant: Dog-friendly charm

Robin’s Restaurant in Cambria is a charming spot for both humans and their four-legged companions. The patio is a must-experience, with a unique and eclectic atmosphere that feels like a secret garden.

Dogs are welcomed on the patio which is the best part of the restaurant anyways so you aren’t missing anything if you can’t sit inside. The menu is equally diverse, offering international flavors and something for everyone, from vegetarian options to local seafood.

Schooners: lively dog-friendly fun

Schooners restaurant in Cayucos

Schooners restaurant in Cayucos is a fun and lively spot located right across from the beach.

The alfresco area allows dogs and even has some fire pit tables for those chilly evenings. The heat lamps ensure that you remain comfortable while enjoying your meal. This casual spot serves pub-type food with tons of seafood options. The patio just begs you to sit and enjoy a couple of drinks that are perfect for a beachside evening.

Live music is performed at least once a week.

Must-Do Activities Near Cambria That Are Worth leaving Fido behind

Hearst Castle

The swimming pool filled with mosaic tiles at Hearst Castle
The mosaic indoor swimming pool at Hearst Castle

If you’re planning a visit to California’s central coast, you won’t want to miss Hearst Castle, a stunning architectural masterpiece nestled in the hills overlooking San Simeon.

While dogs aren’t allowed on the tour, this iconic attraction is still worth a visit.

You’ll be transported back in time as you explore the opulent rooms, marvel at the beautiful artwork and sculptures, and learn about the fascinating history of this landmark. The stunning gardens, fountains, and pools are also not to be missed, and the breathtaking views of the coastline from Hearst Castle are truly unparalleled.

So while your furry friend may have to sit this one out, a visit to Hearst Castle is an experience that you’ll never forget and is a must-do for anyone visiting California’s central coast.

*Reservations required

Bread Bike Bakery

The Farmer’s Market in Cambria is held every Friday. Even though it’s outside, dogs are not allowed. I’m not sure I understand the rule, but it definitely makes it more challenging for you to get your hands on one of the most delicious loaves of bread I’ve ever had.

The line 10-people deep at Bread Bike Bakery definitely drew my attention. When I saw all the amazing bread varieties laid out on the table, I had to stop. I wasn’t sure I wanted to stand in such a long line, but the people there told me I would be crazy not to try it. While these loaves don’t come cheap, the expression, “you get what you pay for” is definitely true in this instance. I don’t think you can pick the wrong thing here.

Since dogs are not allowed at the farmer’s market, this would be a great snack to buy before heading off for a picnic at one of the many places that are dog-friendly.

Recall Training for a great off-leash beach experience for you and your dog

Teaching your dog good recall is crucial if you plan to take them off-leash on a beach.

A reliable recall can prevent your furry friend from getting into danger or bothering other beachgoers. The beach is full of new sights, smells, and sounds that can be distracting to your dog.

Without proper training, your dog may run off, chase birds, or even other dogs, which can quickly escalate into a risky situation. By teaching your dog good recall, you can enjoy a stress-free day at the beach with your furry friend, allowing them to run and play freely while still maintaining their safety and respecting others enjoying the beach.

This video shows a professional dog trainer working on recall. I set the start time for you. After the lesson, he continues on to other topics that you can skip.


Is Cambria beach dog friendly?

Moonstone Beach is the main beach in Cambria. It is not dog friendly, but the cliffs above have a fantastic boardwalk where you can walk with your dog on-leash.

Is Moonstone Beach in Cambria dog friendly?

The actual beach is a marine sanctuary, so it is not dog friendly. The boardwalk on the cliffs above is dog-friendly. There are other beaches nearby that become dog-friendly once you leave the protected area.

Are dogs allowed in Cambria?

In many ways, Cambria is very dog friendly. It has beautiful year round-weather making it perfect to explore with your dog. There are many dog-friendly outdoor dining options, beaches, trails, and hotels. The actual stores in downtown Cambria are not particularly dog-friendly.

What can dogs do in Cambria?

Dogs can go on the Moonstone Beach Boardwalk, the dog parks, and walk in Fiscalini Ranch Preserve. They are also welcome in many outdoor dining spots and local boutique hotels.

Is outdoor dining allowed in Cambria?

Yes! Cambria is a fantastic place for outdoor dining due to its beautiful climate and stunning scenery. Dogs are allowed in most outdoor dining patios.

Final Thoughts: Dog-friendly Beaches Near Cambria

Cambria is a wonderful destination for anyone looking to travel with their furry friends. You and your dog can explore everything this charming region has to offer together. From scenic hikes and beach walks to delicious food and cozy lodgings, you’ll never run out of things to do with your furry best friend by your side. So pack your bags, bring your pup, and get ready to make some unforgettable memories in beautiful Cambria!

Ready for another California weekend getaway? If you are in Northern California, check out Nevada City’s dog-friendly fun in CA Gold Country. For those in SoCal, these 6 options are fantastic.

Are you making an international trip to California? If so, check out the official rules on how to get your dog into the US. You might also want to get a few tips on how to fly with medium and large dogs

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