Top 10 places to walk your dog in San Francisco
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San Francisco is as hard to generalize about as the next world-class city, but it does seem to be one of those cities that attract dog owners.
Hit the trail with your pup this summer. With so many wonderul places in San Francisco to take your dog, it is hard to pick a favorite, but I narrowed down the search to my top ten doggy- friendly adventures:
#10 Westfield Shopping Center– This downtown shopping center allows dogs inside the mall. It’s true – as long as they are behaved and on leash, you can go get your suit tailored at three-generation-old Escobar Mater Tailors and get a maple-bacon cupcake at Cako with your pooch in tow.
#9 Ocean Beach– This beach is a classic spot for good reason. With an open view of the coastline, and brave surfers and windsurfers, a visit to this beach is a doggy favorite highly recommended by locals. Parking can be a bit of a zoo on Great Highway on sunny weekends, so I usually park on the avenues and add a few blocks to our walk.
#8 Golden Gate’s Northeast Dog Run– Golden Gate Park and it’s panhandle are basically a matrix of dog heavens – from the magestic peace of the redwood patch near the rose garden to the impromtu canine socials that take place on the three off-leash dog run areas.
#7 Giant’s Stadium, China Basin and Embarcadero – Bring your pooch to a Giants game! Did you know your on-leash dog is welcome in the standing room area at Giants baseball games? Catch an inning or two before continuing your walk along China Basin or the Embarcadero, but be warned: It can get packed on nights where there’s a big rival in town. Coming August 25th is Pacbell Stadium’s annual doggie day where you can bring your dog into the ballpark for the whole game. Keep your eyes glued to the big screen to see if your pooch snags some screentime.
#6 Crissy Field to Fort Point - A wonderful walk, plain and simple, full of spellbinding views. Park at in front of the entrance to Fort Mason where you can often find free spots, or if the lot’s full you can pay a few dollars and park inside the Fort Mason lot (then you’ll have to poke you’re nose into the Long Now Museum, it’s small, free, and inspiring – so don’t skip if it this is where you begin.) Then head toward the yachts and Crissy Field, past the Warming Hut to Fort Point. Another great detour if you’re there when the tide is coming in is walk to the far side of Fort Mason (toward Fisherman’s Wharf) and follow the curved peninsula across from Marina Green to the Wave Organ. This sit-in musical sculpture is especially nice at high tide.
#5 Barbary Coast Trail – While walking tours are a great way to see San Francisco, most are not particularly dog friendly. The trail at the infamous Barbary Coast is one of the exceptions. Here you will learn scintillating detail about San Fran’s early days while your canine companion trots along beside you. You can also print a free map and read about eateries on the trip there.
#4 Stowe Lake – The wonders of scenic Stowe Lake and its colorful paddleboats never fail to please. The boathouse, located on this well-sustained urban lake is the site of wedding proposals in rowboats, native plants and lush scenery, and a paved one-mile trail perfect for a leisurely on-leash walk.
#3 Land’s End Trail and Mile Rock Beach – It is every SF dog-owners dream to watch their pooch frolic with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background. At this park, all the trails and beaches are dog friendly. Play hide-and-seek at the labrynthine beach at Land’s End Park, or park near the Cliff House and take the newly widened Coastal Trail to the Mile Rock beach offshoot.
#2 Corona Heights Park – There are many hilltop parks in San Francisco, given the geography. Corona Heights is the most exciting of these. For an ideal walk for your and your pup, take Castro and 16th up the hill to Flint Street. The 360-degree views from Corona are what tourists dream of when they imagine San Francisco, and what locals dream of when they’re away from home. Randall Museum, always free, is another highlight of this often-overlooked landmark park.
#1 Bernal Heights Park – Of all of the dog-friendly outings around the city by the bay, the best is the verdant hilltop of Bernal Heights Park, located on the grassy cliffs above the Mission neighborhood. If you don’t live nearby, this epic park is worth the out-of-the-way effort. Take the longer loop from the back of the hill, the center of Bernal Heights neighborhood at Carver Street and Bernal Heights Boulevard. It gets pretty steep but the panoramic city view from the top is the stuff of poetry, and positively everyone on the trails has a dog or two by their side.
If you’re looking for a complete guide to SF’s dog scene stick around on the Bernal Heights link above and look around – SFDogParks.com is a great resource!