Top 10 bow-wow worthy beaches
Written by Craig Romano; photography by J. Nichole Smith

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1. Long Beach WASHINGTON

Over 20 miles of continuous sandy beach await you and your pup at southwest Washington’s Long Beach Peninsula. From rocky headlands at Cape Disappointment State Park in the south to remote Leadbetter Point State Park on the Peninsula’s northern tip, a sprawling silver strand of dune lined beach offers plenty of room for the two of you to wade, play and amble. A wide array of dog-friendly accommodations ranging from surfside campsites to cabins nestled in quiet pine groves can be found in Long Beach’s handful of quaint communities. For excellent sunset strolling take to the paved Discovery Trail. In late June, Long Beach is home to the annual Doggie Olympics Games, where competitors partake in such events as the Frisbee Throw, Brush Shedding, Peanut Butter Lick, and the Pavarotti Sing-off.

2. Kalaloch Beach WASHINGTON

While Olympic National Park’s majestic mountains and rainforest are off limits to your Rover, over 10 miles of its majestic beach are not. Dogs (on leash) are permitted to roam the stunning wilderness beaches of the Olympic Coast at Kalaloch and Rialto (south of Ellen Creek); some of the most stunning coastal scenery to be found anywhere in America. You and your buddy will be deeply entranced by Kalaloch’s crashing surf, spiraling sea stacks, towering bluffs, hidden caves, tidal pools, and long line of sun and salt blasted stacks of drift logs. Dog-friendly accommodations are available at a handful of seaside cabins and campsites.

3. Double Bluff Beach WASHINGTON

For dog and beach lovers in Washington State, Whidbey Island’s Double Bluff is legendary. Perhaps the most dog-friendly and dog inviting beach in the entire Pacific Northwest, Double Bluff is one of the largest off-leash beaches in the country. Spread out beneath a pair of towering bluffs is two miles of wide, hard packed sandy shoreline for you and your intrepid pup to explore. Your dog will love splashing in the relatively calm waters. You’ll marvel at the splendid views across Puget Sound to the snow-capped Olympic Mountains and the shimmering Seattle skyline with lofty Mount Rainier rising behind it. You and your beach bound hound won’t be alone here so be prepared to meet some new friends. For more information about Double Bluff, click here.

4. Guemes Island WASHINGTON

Reached by a short ferry ride from Anacortes, Guemes is one of the least populated, least visited, and least developed of the San Juan Islands. It is also one of the best places in that archipelago for taking your four-legged fur ball for a quiet stroll on the beach. Also known as Dog Island for the wild dogs that once inhabited it, the alternative name is now mostly used to denote its canine loving and welcoming atmosphere. And nowhere is dog-coddling more prevalent on the island than at its lone lodging option, the Guemes Island Resort. A rustic and quaint collection of cabins on 20 acres of beachfront property, the resort insists that among the things you bring, is your dog!

5. Cannon Beach OREGON

What wayfaring beach lover, two or four footed can resist Oregon’s signature beach? Miles of splendid shoreline, all public and all open to you and your canine companion spread north and south from this artsy resort town. Walk within the shadows of Haystack Rock, a 235-foot sea stack and quite possibly the most recognized natural feature along the entire Oregon Coast. Escape the crowds by heading south to adjacent Tolovana Beach. Looking for a dog accommodating place to call it a night after a tiring all day outing on the beach? Cannon has plenty to choose from including the Hallmark and Surfsand Resorts. The latter sponsors an annual Dog Show on the Beach in October.

6. Beverly Beach OREGON

A sprawling expanse of sand tucked between two attractive headlands, Yaquina Head to the south and Otter Rock to the north, Beverly boasts bountiful beauty and plenty of surf and turf for you and your pup to let loose on. And if the two of you should tire of wading and playing, the filled with attractions seaside resort town, Newport, is located just six miles away. Walk through Newport’s Old Town. Your sniffing schnauzer will be in olfactory heaven. Be sure to stop for a brew at the Rogue Ale Public House. Sponsors of the Brewer Memorial Ale Fest in May, it’s touted as a dog-friendly beer festival. There are plenty of dog-welcoming lodging options in Newport or secure yourself a creek side campsite in Beverly Beach State Park and let the pleasant drone of the surf and breeze lull you both to sleep.

7. Whaleshead Beach OREGON

Located between Brookings and Pistol River along Oregon’s South Coast, Whaleshead Beach sits smack dab in the middle of some of the most spectacular coastal scenery in all of America. Within the 12 mile long Samuel H. Boardman State Park, Whaleshead Beach is surrounded by towering bluffs, cliffs, and sea stacks. Situated at the mouth of a creek in a secluded cove, you and your high-tailing healer will have little but the salty breeze disturbing your peace. Watch water spout high into the air as breakers hit Whaleshead Island. Looking for adventure? Take to the nearly 27 miles of Oregon Coast Trail that weaves along the park’s bluffs, coves, and beaches. The nearby Whaleshead Resort offers cozy cabins for you and your pooch to retire to afterwards.

8. Stinson Beach CALIFORNIA

Tucked between Point Reyes and the Golden Gate and within the shadows of Mount Tamalpais is the small enclave of Stinson Beach with its three plus miles of wide sandy beach. While the beach to the south in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area is off limits to your four-legged friend, the Marin County owned section known as Upton Beach welcomes her. And if your pup is well-behaved, she can hit the beach sans leash! When you hunger after hitting the beach, several in town cafes welcome you and your bud to have a seat in their porch or outdoor dining area. And if Stinson isn’t big enough for the two of you, if the tides are low head over to nearby Agate Beach in Bolinas for two miles of exceptionally fine shoreline strolling.

9. Baker Beach CALIFORNIA

A dramatically set beach right in San Francisco beneath rugged cliffs just to the south of the Golden Gate Bridge, you’ll pant over the stunning views while your buddy enjoys the surf. North of Lobos Creek at Baker your well-behaved pooch can go leash free. Many beachgoers at Baker go suit free, so be aware of bathers in the bare. Rip currents are strong so best to keep your roving Rover from heading into the breakers. Part of the sprawling Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the scenery is stunning here; from Lands End in the west, the Marin Headlands to the north and the Golden Gate Bridge to the east.

10. Point Reyes Nat’l Seashore CALIFORNIA

While the trails and uplands of this 65,000 acre National Park Service property are off limits to your lovable Lab, four beautiful beaches on this prominent peninsula north of San Francisco are open to her (on leash). Along Point Reyes, wander to your heart’s and tail’s content on nearly ten miles of sand at Kehoe and the North and South Beaches. Along Drakes Bay take to Limantour Beach and its narrow spit protruding into wildlife rich waters. While your buddy explores nose to the ground, keep your attention upward and outward. Point Reyes boasts nearly 500 different species of birds, the largest number of any American national park. Several inns and lodges in the nearby communities of Point Reyes Station and Olema welcome your pooch at no extra charge.

Craig Romano is an outdoor writer and author of several guidebooks including Best Hikes with Dogs: Inland Northwest.