Pets are like family members so why wouldn't you bring Fido on your next vacation to Santa Cruz? With plenty of pet-friendly parks and beaches to explore, Santa Cruz is the place for four-legged visitors. Downtown Santa Cruz is now dog friendly so you can enjoy an afternoon of shopping and dining with Fluffy in tow. Off-leash areas are a great way to let your pet have a little "canine social time" while you relax and enjoy some human interaction, so pack your pup and get ready for some fun!
- University Terrace Dog Run
Dogs are allowed in this park from sunrise to sunset, but they must be on leash from 10:00 AM-4:00 PM. It is not fenced, so be careful about your dog running off; there is a large dirt area for dogs to run around.
- Scotts Valley Dog Park
This off-leash dog park is located in Aptos, California, and is one acre in size and fenced. It is open during sunrise to sunset, and has water and benches.
- Polo Grounds Dog Park
This one acre off-leash dog park is fenced and includes water and benches. The park is open during daylight hours.
- Frederick Street Park Dog Park
Located at Frederick Street Park, this off leash area is open from sunrise to sunset and is marked by signs and a split rail fence.
- Grant Street Park Dog Park
There is clear signage for the off leash area at this park; it is open from sunrise to sunset.
- Ocean View Park
The off leash area at this doggy playground has clearly marked off with signs and it is open from sunrise to sunset.
- Pacheco Dog Park
This completely fenced off leash doggy play area is open from sunrise to sunset.
- West Cliff Drive Walkway
This is a popular paved walking path that follows the beautiful Santa Cruz coastline. It is about 2 miles long each way and is frequented by walkers, runners, bicyclists and of course, dogs. It is located on West Cliff Drive, north of the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and south of Natural Bridges State Beach. While dogs are not allowed on either the Boardwalk or the State Beach, there is a dog beach along this path called West Lighthouse Beach. There are several areas where you can park near the path.
- Lighthouse Field
Leashes are required at all times now at Lighthouse Field. It used to have off-leash hours but this was discontinued. This field is not fenced and there are several busy streets nearby, so if your dog runs off-leash, make sure he or she is very well trained. It is located on West Cliff Drive, just north of the Lighthouse, and south of Columbia Street. It is also across from the West Lighthouse Beach.
- Its Beach
Its Beach is located on West Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz, north of the lighthouse. It is a smaller beach where your dog can walk into the water and play in the sand. Dogs must be leashed, and cannot go on the beach from 10:00 AM-4:00 PM.
- Mitchell's Cove Beach
Dogs are allowed at Mitchell's Cove Beach from 10:00 AM-4:00 PM on leash, and off leash during other open hours. This beach is located on West Cliff Drive, between Almar and Woodrow. It is the only off-leash dog beach in Santa Cruz. It is a beautiful beach full of rocks and cliffs, but it is not fenced, so be careful.
- Seabright Beach
Seabright Beach is located on the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, north of Santa Cruz Harbor. Dogs are allowed to go here on leash, and it is open sunrise to sunset. They have fire rings available for bonfires.
- Twin Lakes State Beach
This is the warmest beach in the area, and dogs are allowed here on leash. It is located just south of the Santa Cruz Harbor. They have fire rings for bonfires, as well as outdoor showers and restrooms. People also come to this park for swimming, picnicking and bird watching.
- East Cliff Coast Access Points
This is not one long beach because the water comes up to cliffs in certain areas and breaks it up into many smaller beaches. Dogs are allowed on leash. Parking is on city streets along East Cliff or the numbered avenues.
- Harbor Water Taxis
It's something fun to do while walking around the harbor. If you are on the east side of the harbor by Lake Ave., you and your dog can take the taxi across the harbor to dine at Aldo's Restaurant (dog-friendly restaurant). The taxis are seasonal, usually running from May through October. There are several spots around the harbor where you can catch the water taxis and there is a minimal fee for the taxi.
- Roaring Camp & Big Trees RR
At Roaring Camp you will find daily musical entertainment (Old Western style) and a couple of outdoor cafes that serve burgers, chicken sandwiches and more. They also hold many seasonal events here like a Harvest Fair and Steam Festival. The train ride takes you into the beautiful Santa Cruz Mountains. This is America's last steam-powered passenger railroad with year-round passenger service. They operate daily from 11am to 5pm.
- Lighthouse Point Surfer's Museum
This lighthouse is home to California's first surfing museum. Well-behaved, leashed dogs are allowed inside. It is open from noon to 6pm daily, except it is closed on Tuesdays. The museum is located on West Cliff Drive, about a 5-10 minute drive north of the Santa Cruz Boardwalk.
- Santa Cruz Harley Davidson Motorcyles
Well-behaved, leashed dogs are allowed in the store and the museum. They have dogs come into the store all the time. The museum, located inside the store, features vintage motorcycles, memorabilia, photos and more. Located at the corner of Soquel and Seabright.
- De Laveaga Park Disc Golf
This course has 27 baskets and is part of an over 1200 acre park which allows dogs. If you do not have any discs, you can purchase them at various locations in the Santa Cruz area.
Restaurants with Dog Menu or Items
- Cafe Limelight
Cafe Limelight, located in Santa Cruz, California, is open Tuesday throughout Friday 11:30am-2:30pm for lunch, and 5:30-8:30pm for dinner, and Saturdays noon-3pm for lunch, and 6pm-8:30pm for dinner. They serve a large variety of Panini sandwiches, fresh soups, and garden salads. Well behaved, leashed dogs are always welcome on the shaded outdoor patio, and they even offer a doggy menu, with options like roasted pig ears, fresh roasted turkey, milk bones, and more.
- Firefly Coffee House
Gourmet and organic coffees, a variety of freshly prepared foods, and a fun atmosphere are the specialties at this gathering place. There are all kinds of music played or being played, movie and television nights, and an exchange library. Leashed, well-mannered dogs are welcome at their outside tables and get treated with a doggy biscuit too.
- Aldo's Harbor Restaurant
Aldo's outdoor dining area overlooks the Santa Cruz Harbor. They are open for breakfast and lunch. After dining here, you can go for a walk around the harbor. To get there from Hwy 17 south, exit Ocean Street on the left towards the beaches. Leashed dogs are allowed at their outside tables.http://www.aldos-cruz.com/
- Bittersweet Bistro
With a focus on sourcing the finest natural high quality ingredients, this fine dining establishment offers freshly prepared American Bistro cuisine with Mediterranean inspirations, an exceptional dessert menu, a notable wine list, daily happy hours, and a wonderful garden patio. Leashed, well-mannered dogs are allowed at their outside dining area.
- Gayle's Bakery and Rosticceria
This bakery features more than 500 cakes, cookies, pastries, and breads made with the all the best organic and natural ingredients available. Plus, their Italian-style deli features a wood-burning rotisserie for some delectable tastes as well. Leashed, well-mannered dogs are allowed at their outside tables.
- Harbor Bay
This breakfast and lunch diner also has outside dining. Friendly, leashed dogs are welcome at the outer tables.
- Cole's Bar-B-Q
This award winning barbecue establishment has one table outside for customers who bring their canine companions with them. Dogs must be attended to at all times, well behaved, and leashed.
- Pleasure Pizza
This pizza place serves slices and whole pizzas. It is located near the East Cliff Coastal Access Points/Beaches.
- Seabright Brewery
In addition to their hand-crafted, freshly brewed ales and Happy Hours Monday to Friday, this brewery also features a full menu of favorites and specialties of the house, live music on Friday nights, and alfresco dining. Leashed, friendly dogs are allowed at their outside dining area.