Visit San Diego: Dog Friendly Travel Tips
On our most recent trip to San Diego, I took my dog, Mya (@its.mya.life), with us for our family vacation! Mya, a 6 year old malshi (maltese-shih tzu), was rescued last year from California by a local Richmond, BC shelter. We were fortunate to have met her, fell in love with her, and adopted her right away. For the past year, Mya has travelled with us on road trips, however we decided to take her with us to California this trip as we had heard that San Diego was a dog-friendly travel destination!
San Diego is one of the top 3 cities when it comes to being the most pet-friendly cities in the US, according to a recent 2018 WalletHub research study. The city was rated #1 for most pet-friendly businesses in the city per capita, and #1 most dog-friendly restaurants per capita.
Through this first trip with Mya to California, I wanted to share with you some travel tips if you decide to take your dogs on vacation to San Diego!
Plane ride preparation – make sure to check airline policies on dog travel – small breeds under a certain soft kennel size can be sitting with you under your feet in the cabin, while larger breeds have to be hard-shell crated and shipped in the cargo. Check with your vet as well beforehand whether or not plane travel is suitable for your dog. We ended up learning that Mya would panic in her crate at our feet whenever we ascended and descended due to the pressure and loud noises of the plane engine which reminded her of thunderstorms.
Book a dog-friendly hotel – we ended up staying at the Hotel Republic San Diego, which offers a special Pups & Paws hotel package. Not only does your dog get their own dog bed, blanket, and bowls for food and water, they also receive a squeaky toy (Hotel Republic surfboard plush chew toy), treats, bottled water, and a special pup in-room menu should they need meals (freshly cooked beef/chicken or fish with rice, peas and carrots).
On Thursdays, The Patio Marketplace restaurant at Hotel Republic offers Yappy Hour from 4pm-7pm, where dogs and their owners can enjoy afternoon snacks and drinks (pups get a special food menu and complimentary bone broth and biscuits).
We were really grateful to the team at Hotel Republic who welcomed Mya with open arms, treated her as their VIP pup, and always had dog biscuits on hand for her when she came to and from the hotel. Hotel Republic was one of the only few hotels in my research of San Diego hotels which had a more flexible policy allowing you to leave your dog in the hotel room, so long as they didn’t bark and cause a disturbance. Two to three blocks from the hotel there was green space areas that locals walked their dogs, so we were able to establish a walking route for Mya. The hotel is also really close to San Diego International Airport, Little Italy, Gaslamp Quarter, USS Midway, and other downtown attractions.Several other hotels in San Diego are just as dog-friendly. San Diego Tourism Authority offers a list of pet-friendly hotels you can find here.
Restaurant patios that were dog-friendly – San Diego is amazing when it comes to welcoming four-legged friends on the patios of restaurants. From small cafes to large scale bars and restaurants, most dining establishments had a patio and were open to dogs. In fact, a lot of the full-service outlets we would visit would often ask if we wanted a bowl of water for Mya. Some restaurants such as The Lazy Dog also offer a dog friendly menu so that Mya could have something to eat too. Although most restaurants allow dogs, please note that most will frown upon if you put your dog on a chair or table due to food & health regulations.
Dog-friendly transportation – If you take public transit in San Diego, they allow dogs as long as they are kept inside a carrier (soft or hard crate/kennel) and kept at your side. Uber, Lyft and taxis will allow pets but please check with your driver first to avoid any issues. Since Mya was a small dog, we kept her in her travel backpack when in transportation and generally didn’t have any issues taking her around the city. We mostly used Lyft for our car rides, took her on FRED, the free downtown electric vehicle shuttle, and even on electric foot scooters that were relatively easy to rent throughout downtown San Diego via Lime & Bird scooter rental app services.
Dog friendly beaches – San Diego is known for having some of the best beaches in the U.S. Coronado beach has been voted one of the best beaches in North America due to their white sandy beaches that are pillowy soft under your feet, warm summer water, and some of the clearest water you will find in the Pacific Ocean outside of Hawaii. Coronado beach has also been sectioned off with one part of it dedicated to U.S. Navy Seal training – sometimes you see the helicopters dropping off and picking up trainees, as well as those working out along the beach. However, there is a good stretch of the beach open to the public, and the northern end dedicated for dog-owners and their furry friends! Coronado Dog Beach is at the northern tip of the beach – very popular amongst locals who want to bring their dog with them to the beach. We took Mya there for a dip in the water to cool down on a hot summer day – make sure to bring lots of water, treats, and an umbrella or tent if you want to survive more than 30 minutes in the sun during the summer months. Your dog will thank you for the shade!
Other dog friendly beaches include Ocean Beach Dog Beach, Del Mar Dog Beach, and Fiesta Island on Mission Bay. These beaches all allow dogs to be off leash. Most of the other beaches in San Diego either prohibit dogs, even if on-leash, or only allow on-leash during off peak hours (i.e. before 9am and after 6pm). Make sure to check online and on the beach/park signage before entering if you’re not sure.
We loved being able to bring Mya with us on vacation, to share in with our adventures. She loved being spoiled a the hotel and restaurants, while we loved having her with us on our car rides and at the beach. Not only is travelling with our dog a learning experience, but it was also our time to bond with Mya. You can check out her adventures in San Diego by following her Instagram account @its.mya.life and checking out her Vacation 2018 highlights in her stories.
Thanks to San Diego Tourism Authority for the dog-friendly recommendations that helped with our trip planning, as well as H2 Public Relations and Hotel Republic San Diego for arranging our media rate and Pups & Paws package for our stay.