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Is Stinson Beach Dog Friendly? Yes, If You Know Where to Go

Planning a beach day with your furry friend and considering Stinson Beach? Let’s answer the question you’ve been pondering: Is Stinson Beach dog friendly?

Simply put, yes, Stinson Beach is dog friendly, but it’s crucial to understand where you can go, as the beach is divided into a dog-friendly and no-dogs-allowed section.

I’ve taken my dogs Jack, Lance and Max there many times. As a local, let me fill you in on the details. Make sure to scroll to the bottom for great pet friendly restaurants in Stinson Beach, too.

Lance on Stinson Beach

Introduction: A Tale of Two Beaches

First, let’s delve into the specifics of Stinson Beach. What looks like one beach is actually divided into two sections, each controlled by different government entities.

Here’s a map that I made showing the different sections:

Two portions of the same beach

These two areas are Stinson Beach, managed by the National Park Service (NPS), and Upton Beach, managed by Marin County.

Area of Stinson BeachControlling AuthorityDog-Friendly?Specifics
Stinson BeachNational Park ServicePartiallyDogs are not allowed on the beach, but leashed dogs are permitted on roads and picnic areas
Upton BeachMarin CountyYesDogs are welcome; keep them leashed for everyone’s comfort

It’s easy to tell the difference, as there are prominent signs marking the boundary. Here’s one of those that I saw on a visit.

The North section is dog friendly, and the South section isn’t.

Upton Beach: A Canine Paradise

Jack relaxes on Upton Beach

While they’re physically part of the same stretch of sand and sea, these two sections have different rules about dogs. To the north lies Upton Beach, a dog-friendly oasis where your canine companions are welcome to join you for a day of seaside fun.

So, if you’re looking for the dog-friendly section of the beach, head to the North Lot of Stinson Beach. From there, it’s just a short stroll north up the beach to reach the Upton section, where dogs are encouraged to come and play.

Lance enjoys the beach

Again, they’re physically the same beach! There’s just an imaginary dividing line down the middle that marks the dog-friendly and dogs-prohibited section.

The dividing line is imaginary–it’s the same beach!

An extra bonus? The Upton Beach section is often less crowded, as most human visitors head to the Stinson Beach portion. So you’ll have an easier time pitching your beach tent or blanket with your dog.

Stinson Beach: Partial Dog Access

While dogs are not permitted on the NPS-controlled portion of Stinson Beach itself, that doesn’t mean they’re entirely unwelcome in this area.

Feel free to take your dog to the picnic areas or on pathways

You’ll be pleased to know that leashed dogs are allowed:

  • On the roads
  • In the picnic area right in front of the beach
  • On all the pathways
  • In the parking lots

That comes right from the National Park Service, which says “Dogs are allowed on leash in the parking lot, picnic areas, and on the adjacent county beach. However, pets are not allowed on the National Park Service section of the beach.”

That makes accessing the Upton Beach portion easy, since you can walk your dog right through the parking area and up to the North entrance.

The Snack Bar

Another bonus is the fact that the Parkside Snack Bar just adjacent to Stinson Beach is also dog friendly. You can grab a bite to eat and then either walk to the dog friendly picnic area, or enjoy your food on a bench in the adjacent park.

Sneaking jack a bit of ice cream.

They have great soft serve, and I admit that I’ve share a lick of my ice cream cone with Jack and Max on several occasions!

Dog-Friendly Stinson Beach Restaurants

Remember, Stinson beach isn’t just a beach–it’s also a quaint little town! Most local stores are fine with your bringing in a well-behaved dog on a leash. But if you’re looking for a place to eat beyond the snack bar, there are some great options, too.

Restaurant NameCuisine TypeDog-Friendly PolicyContact Information
Parkside CafeAmericanYes, on outdoor patio. Confirmed via Facebook on 7/6/23. Also I took Jack there.(415) 868-1272
Sand Dollar RestaurantSeafoodYes, on outdoor patio. Temporarily closed when we checked on 7/6/2023(415) 868-0434
Breakers CafeBreakfast/BrunchYes, on outdoor patio, per social media, not yet confirmed(415) 868-2002
The Siren CanteenAmericanUnknown(415) 868-1777
Stinson Beach GrillAmericanYes, on outdoor patio, per social media, not yet confirmed(415) 868-2003
Jack dines at Parkside cafe

Conclusion: A Dog-Friendly Experience Awaits

In conclusion, Stinson Beach is indeed dog-friendly, as long as you know where to go. While the area’s division might initially sound confusing, in practice, it doesn’t significantly affect visitors, as the dog-friendly and partially dog-friendly sections are part of the same continuous beach.

The key takeaway here is, dogs are not only allowed, but they’re also warmly welcomed in certain areas, promising a fun-filled beach day for you and your pet.

Remember, though, regardless of where you’re heading, keeping your dog leashed will ensure a comfortable experience for everyone.

Thomas Smith

Thomas Smith is a food and travel photographer and writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His photographic work routinely appears in publications including Food and Wine, Conde Nast Traveler, and the New York Times and his writing appears in IEEE Spectrum, SFGate, the Bold Italic and more. Smith holds a degree in Cognitive Science (Neuroscience) and Anthropology from the Johns Hopkins University.

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