In 2023, the city of Carlsbad, just north of San Diego, launched an “All Paws Lead to Carlsbad” tourism initiative to encourage pet friendly travel to the Southern California beach town. Although the campaign officially ended in May, Carlsbad is always a dog friendly town that welcomes woofers of all breeds and sizes to many of its shops, restaurant patios, and hotels. There are also dog parks to frolic in and dog friendly beaches in the general vicinity for pups that like to swim, surf, or go for long runs in the sand.
Dog-friendly things to do in Carlsbad
Go to the beach
Carlsbad has seven miles of coastline. Although the main beach is not pet friendly, you can walk your dog along the oceanfront promenade running alongside the oceanfront. If you have transport, however, there are five dog friendly beaches within 20 miles of the city. North Beach in Del Mar, about a 25-minute drive south, is one of the best. It allows dogs off-leash between Labor Day and June 15. June 16 through Labor Day, off leash dogs are only welcome from dawn to 8:00 AM. If your dog doesn’t mind staying on leash, this beach is open to pups year-round.
North Beach: 3200 Camino Del Mar, Del Mar, CA 92014
Head into town
The heart of the town is Carlsbad Village, where many of the shops and restaurants are located. It’s also adjacent to the beach. The walkable Village is very dog friendly. Head to Fired Up Carlsbad, where you can make hand and paw impressions with your pup. The shop is owned and run by the affable Sarah Hopkin, who is a true dog lover and sometimes brings her rescue chihuahuas with her. You can make ceramic imprints that after firing and glazing can be painted. My dog Poppy and I had a fun bonding experience making an imprint of her paw inside my hand.
If your doggo needs a bath, Carlsbad Pet & Feed has a self-service dog wash. Afterward you can reward them with a bag of treats, a new toy, or a tasty bone. The shop also sells a wide range of dog food.
Explore La Costa
La Costa was once a separate town, but Carlsbad annexed the luxurious area in the ‘70s. The residential area anchored by the Omni La Costa Resort and Spa, which is surrounded by a golf course, shops, and restaurants. You’ll find treats and water bowls at many of the shops in La Costa, and this coastal haven offers an array of dog-friendly activities.
When you’re done with the shops, venture toward the Batiquitos Lagoon, a nature reserve with ample trails for you and your dog to explore (note that while dogs are allowed, they must be leashed). The lagoon is home to diverse wildlife, providing an enriching experience for both you and your pet.
Dog-friendly restaurants in Carlsbad
Although most restaurants here don’t allow dogs inside, Carlsbad’s quintessential SoCal weather means that patio dining is usually comfortable year-round and many restaurants have dog friendly patios.
Located in Carlsbad Village, the Shorehouse Kitchen is so dog friendly it has special doggie menus. Poppy loved Fido’s Finest: seared and slicked grass fed ground beef patty topped with roasted turkey bits and bacon. She tried to devour the whole bowl in one sitting, but as she only weighs 13 pounds, I had to get her a doggie bag and she enjoyed this feast as a topper for the next two dinners.
Shorehouse Kitchen: 2833 State St, Carlsbad, CA 92008
Pure Taco, also in Carlsbad Village, allows dogs inside and cooks up yummy tacos with hand pressed tortillas. For drinks, there are specialty margaritas and local beers. The Baja fish tacos are $1.99 all day, everyday, though there are also innovative taco choices like pho beef, Korean pork bo ssam, and green curry shrimp.
Pure Taco: 2742 State St suite 102, Carlsbad, CA 92008
Karl Strauss Brewing Company
This is a great spot for dinner with a large, dog-friendly patio. Food and drinks are ordered from a counter next to the bar, with a food menu that includes small bites like chile lime fries and beer pretzels as well as larger fare like sausages, different types of tacos, and fish and chips. On the brewing side, Karl Strauss makes an eclectic mix of beers and the best kombucha I’ve ever had.
Karl Strauss Brewing Company: 5801 Armada Dr, Carlsbad, CA 92008
Dog-friendly places to stay in Carlsbad
The Cassara, part of Hilton’s Tapestry Collection, is a great choice for families. The upscale hotel has a fantastic location just a few minutes from LEGOLAND California. Other family focused amenities include a pool with a splash pad and family suites. There is also an adult-focused quiet pool for lap swimming.
The hotel welcomes dogs up to 25 pounds in its modern and comfortable rooms. The hotel is adjacent from Carlsbad’s famed Flower Fields, which bloom from March 1 to at least Mother’s Day each year. Although dogs are not allowed to visit the fields themselves, staying at the Cassara gives you access to a pathway running adjacent to the fields so you and your pup can still check out the views and snap some great pics. Other amenities include The Cassara Kitchen and Bar, a chic lobby bar serving light bites and coastal inspired cocktails.
The Cassara: 5805 Armada Dr Building B, Carlsbad, CA 92008