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Put Your Paws Up for the Best Dog-Friendly Beaches in Santa Cruz County​

dog-friendly beach in Santa Cruz

Are you looking for dog-friendly beaches in Santa Cruz County? You’ve come to the right source. If you know me at all, you know I love dogs. You also know I love the beach. Put the two together, and I’m in heaven! Which is why I’ve scoped out the best beaches for dogs, off-leash and on-leash.

My family has rescued several pups in need of a loving home and currently has three furry friends we adore. Fortunately for all of us, Santa Cruz is a dog-friendly place with lots of hikes, restaurants, hotels, and services that welcome your pooch.  

Here’s where we like running, playing, digging, and chasing balls. (But not the birds, please. Good boy!)

Off-Leash Dog Beaches in Santa Cruz

Mitchell’s Cove, Santa Cruz County

Mitchell’s Cove in west Santa Cruz is a quiet little beach with special off-leash hours for dogs to run free before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m. It’s the ONLY official off-leash dog beach in Santa Cruz County that we know of. Before you go, check the tides because high tide will keep you grounded on the cliffs. The views of Monterey Bay are gorgeous but beware of the stinky seaweed that sometimes collects here. Located near West Cliff Drive and Almar Avenue.

Dog-Friendly Beaches in Santa Cruz County (with leash)

Its Beach, Santa Cruz

Locals know this sheltered cove as Its Beach or Dog Beach but it’s official name is Lighthouse Field State Beach. It’s RARE to see pups on leashes here, but the official leash law calls for leads of 6 feet or less. From West Cliff, take the stairs down to the somewhat secluded beach where your pup can romp, and you can watch the local boogie boarders. 1110 W. Cliff Dr., Santa Cruz

Seabright, Santa Cruz

Seabright Beach stretches for a half-mile between the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and the Santa Cruz Harbor, so you can enjoy several iconic views as you wander across the sand with leash in hand. This popular beach has fire pits and restrooms. Located at the end of 7th Avenue, Santa Cruz

Nearby dog-friendly dining in Santa Cruz: Seabright Social brew pub, 519 Seabright Ave.

Twin Lakes, Santa Cruz

On the east side of the Santa Cruz Harbor, you’ll find the perfect dog-friendly beach in Santa Cruz for long walks along the waterline. Twin Lakes State Beach is about 1-mile long and has restrooms, showers, and fire pits. Parallel to East Cliff Drive and Portola Drive.

Nearby dog-friendly dining in Santa Cruz: Harbor Cafe, 535 Seventh Ave.

Pleasure Point, Santa Cruz

Pleasure Point is one of the best surf spots in California – if your dog cares about that kind of thing. Otherwise, visit at low tide so your pup has more sand to romp on, and you can explore the tide pools. East Cliff Drive and Pleasure Point Drive. 

Nearby dog-friendly dining in Santa Cruz: Before your beach adventure, fuel up with a breakfast burrito on the patio at Chill Out Cafe. 

Sunny Cove, Santa Cruz

Sunny Cove Beach is located on Santa Cruz’s east side and features a deep cove sheltered by sandstone cliffs. It feels almost private! Note that parking is tough on weekends because residential permits are required. East Cliff Drive and Sunny Cove Drive.

New Brighton, Capitola

Tails are wagging for this extensive stretch of beach in Capitola. Because New Brighton is one of California’s most popular beachfront campgrounds, it can get crowded on weekends. 1500 Park Ave., Capitola

Seacliff, Aptos

About 5 miles south of Santa Cruz is Seacliff State Beach, which is dog-friendly for your leashed pets. Enjoy the long stretch of sand backed by beautiful bluffs. State Park Drive, Aptos.

Take a dog-friendly java detour to Cat & Cloud Coffee at 10 Parade St., Aptos.  Read about more of our favorite places to drink and dine in Aptos here

Davenport Beach

Just north of Santa Cruz, Davenport Beach gets five paws up from us! (Note that neighboring Shark Fin Cove beach, also along Highway 1, isn’t as dog-friendly but Fido can enjoy the trails there on a leash.)

Manresa, Watsonville

Leash up for a long walk on this dog-friendly beach so your furry friend can’t chase the Western snowy plovers that nest here. Disturbing a posted plover nesting area is a violation of federal law. Bring $10 for parking admission. There are two entrances off San Andreas Road. (Note that neighboring Sunset State Beach, a mile away, is not dog-friendly.) 

Did I miss your favorite beach? Let me know! Send me an email to: info@gro-realestate.com.

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