A dog friendly guide to Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles is not only home to the biggest stars on earth but also to many happy wagging tails and furry paws. With sun, sand, leash free parks and more, there are many places in Los Angeles where dogs are allowed and so there is never really a dull moment for you and your dog. There is no dearth of dog friendly things to do in LA and in this dog friendly Los Angeles guide, I will show you how to enjoy two-three blissful days in the entertainment capital of the world where dogs are as welcome as starry eyed cinephiles.
This guide, based on our recent trip, focuses on the best things to do in LA with your dog: spanning from dog friendly places in Los Angeles, dog parks (several of them being leash free), dog friendly restaurants and of course to some of the best dog friendly hotels/accommodations in LA. I have also added some dog friendly day trips from LA as an added bonus for those looking for dog friendly weekend getaways in Southern California.
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A) Dog friendly hotels and other accommodations in Los Angeles
There are many dog friendly hotels to choose from in Los Angeles, but herein comes a word of caution. Los Angeles is a huge city and with a whopping 503 square miles, choosing the best place to stay with your dog can get pretty overwhelming, especially if you’ve never visited this city before. Besides this helpful article on the best dog friendly neighborhoods to stay in LA, here are some pointers to keep in mind while deciding where to stay in Los Angeles with your dog:
i) Quiet neighborhoods with access to open spaces is important if you are planning a dog friendly vacation in LA. Los Angeles has no dearth of dog friendly parks, many of which are leash free. Neighborhoods such as Silver lake, Echo Park and Los Feliz (with its proximity to Griffith Park) are excellent locations with dog friendly parks with lots of hiking options where dogs are allowed.
ii) If you are looking for pet friendly lodging in Los Angeles next to the ocean with dreams of dog day afternoons on the sand, then let me deliver the bad news right away. LA county beaches are off limits to dogs and barring Rosie’s beach (which technically is in the city of Long Beach, 25-30 miles away from LA proper), no other beach in LA or greater LA area allows dogs.
But all hope is not lost cause a walk with your best friend along the paved promenade of Ocean avenue in Venice, Santa Monica is the next best thing to running around on the sand. Santa Monica, with its year around sunshine, a bustling Abbot Kinney boulevard, lots of dog friendly restaurants and of course leisurely walks along Ocean Ave hugging the beach, is another great place to stay in LA with your dog.
iii) Finally, I highly recommend staying in Hollywood Hills, which is kind of in the heart of LA and not too far south west like Santa Monica. Besides being at an elevation that provides fantastic views of the city, this neighborhood is quiet, green and is close to Griffith Park (with plenty of dog friendly hikes), Lake Hollywood park (providing a great view of the famed Hollywood sign on Mount Lee) and is close to several dog friendly restaurants.
We stayed at this beautiful Airbnb with Babu during our trip to Los Angeles and had the entire house to ourselves. The house, in a quiet part of Hollywood hills, comes fully equipped with a kitchen, washer-dryer and best of all is surrounded by an amazing garden and backyard for your dog to sniff around to his/her heart’s content. We loved the place for the quiet secluded feel and I would recommend it to any other dog parent in a heartbeat. You can use this link to get $55 off your first trip while booking with Airbnb!
This was our Airbnb home in Hollywood Hills
B) Dog Friendly Los Angeles: top dog friendly activities to choose from
If you are wondering about all the different places that you can take your dog to in LA, then let me tell you that you’ll be spoiled for choices. Los Angeles has many open spaces for hiking and exploring with your dog as well as well as plenty of dog friendly restaurants with patio seating, thanks to a year round stellar weather. Some of the top dog friendly activities to enjoy in Los Angeles are as follows:
a) Dog friendly parks in Los Angeles
All hail LA for the sheer abundance of dog friendly parks and open spaces to romp around, several of which are as sprawling as the city itself and also leash free! Although LA does not pack in as many dog parks as pint sized San Francisco does, there are still plenty to choose from for either leisurely strolls or long hikes with your dog. During our Los Angeles visit with Babu, these are the dog parks that we hit up:
i) Griffith Park: This giant park is the virtual lungs of Los Angeles and is not only home to the famous Griffith Observatory but is also crisscrossed with several hiking trails, big and small and all super dog friendly. Although the most popular hiking trail is the 4 mile round trip to the Hollywood sign on Mount Lee, there are many other small hikes that can be done in Griffith park without breaking tons of sweat.
We city dwellers are not big hikers and Babu is 16 years old, so we settled for more leisurely, smaller hikes by embarking on the Ferndell trail or exploring the Bronson caves that was the filming site for the 1968 Batman TV series.
We really enjoyed our time at the Bronson Canyon Caves (Bat caves) where you get to explore the spooky caves only 0.3 miles away from parking lot. The best part about the caves, apart from being relatively uncrowded, is that once you emerge on the other side, you do get a splendid view of the Hollywood sign at a distance.
For those curious to take on the challenge of more arduous hikes with their pup, such as the 8 mile round trip hike along the Mt. Hollywood trail to the Hollywood sign or the shorter hike (2.4 miles round trip) to Mt. Hollywood (a prominent peak in Griffith park with sweeping views), there are a few things you need to know ahead of time.
The trail head, also known as Charlie Turner trailhead, starts from the parking lot of the Griffith observatory and can be a bit tricky to find, so keep your eyes peeled out for the sign. It is nearly impossible to find parking unless you come in very early (possibly when the day breaks) because Griffith Observatory is a very popular destination and parking can easily morph into a nightmare. Carry plenty of water, shades/hat and it goes without saying, some snacks as well and wear sturdy footwear for the hike.
Bronson Caves/Bat Caves
ii) Runyon Canyon Park: Runyon Canyon park was hands down our favorite place to explore during our trip to LA with Babu. This gigantic park/open space towers over LA providing panoramic views of the city and a paved path for humans and dogs to walk along.
There is also an off-leash hiking area at the very end of this paved path from where you get even more eye-popping panoramic views. This park is clearly a winner with Los Angelinos and their pups, as evident from the dozens of happy canines wagging their butts and tails and stopping by for friendly sniffs.
View from Griffith Park
iii) Boneyard dog Park: This leash-free park is a big favorite of locals in Culver city. The park is not grassy but there are two fairly large sandy enclosures (separate for big and small dogs) for dogs to play leash-free. There is also plenty of free parking space around.
iv) North Atwater Park: This grassy park is right next to the LA river in Glendale, bordering Griffith park. This is a tranquil, green space to stretch your legs and let your pup sniff around to his/her heart’s content.
North Atwater Park
v) Lake Hollywood Park: This park, with a spectacular view of the Hollywood sign, is not only a big hit with tourists but also with dogs. Since we stayed at Hollywood Hills, this one was close enough for us for evening strolls.
We stayed in Los Angeles for only 2.5 days and so missed out on several other dog parks such as Echo Park Lake, Silver Lake reservoir, Sepulveda Basin Off-Leash Dog Park, Whitnall off-leash Dog Park, Leo Carrillo State Park, Westridge-Canyonback Wilderness Park, Laurel Canyon Dog Park and Franklin Canyon Park- all of which allow dogs either on or off-leash. I have pointed them out in the helpful Google Maps at the very end of this post in case you are planning to stay close by or in one of these neighborhoods.
b) Where else in Los Angeles can you take your dog?
Besides dog parks and open spaces for your furry friend to run around, Los Angeles has many other dog friendly spots to enjoy the urban LA scene. These are some of the places where dogs are allowed in Los Angeles and the ones which get two paws up from Babu!
i) Abbot Kinney Boulevard: Abbot Kinney Boulevard is the possibly the most popular stretch of road in Venice, Santa Monica and is home to many boutique shops (most of which are dog friendly), restaurants and art galleries. Besides these, Abbot Kinney is also home to some spectacular murals that are perfect for exploring with your dog. Arrive early to find a parking spot since this street gets crowded very quickly.
I highly recommend checking out the vegan/vegetarian restaurant The Butcher’s Daughter for its dog friendly heated outdoor seating, the French restaurant Zinque which also has a dog friendly patio and finally, the super popular bakery Gjusta, slightly off Abbot Kinney, which has a small outdoor seating area as well.
For those interested in dining at Gjusta, arrive as early as possible (the bakery opens at 7AM) to get a seat because this place gets insanely crowded with crazy wait times for food.
Abbot Kinney Blvd
ii) The Last house on Mulholland Drive: Mulholland Drive, near Hollywood Hills, sits on an elevation and is naturally blessed with beautiful views. The “last house on Mulholland drive” is more of a symbolic landmark and denotes a viewing area at the very end of this street to see the famous Hollywood sign. Being a public spot, this is also dog friendly. I have marked this spot on the Google Map below for convenience.
iii) Platform in Culver City: Platform is an open air shopping arcade in Culver City showcasing local talent in the form of quirky boutiques and beautiful local stores interspersed with lots of greenery and a paved walking path. You can easily spend some time here shopping from one of the many beautiful boutiques carrying everything local and grabbing a bite at one of the several restaurants/bakeries with outdoor seating along with your pup.
iv) Rodeo Drive: Los Angeles’s famous Rodeo drive is not only the epicenter of glamor and uber-expensive retail in Beverly Hills, but also comes alive during Christmas with charming storefront and street decor to ring in the holiday mood. Rodeo drive is essentially a classy, giant outdoor mall with a stone paved path snaking through the many posh retail stores on either side.
If you are visiting LA during Christmas, come in early with your dog (it gets too crowded later in the day with hordes of tourists going crazy over Instagram worthy shots) to walk down this cobbled path which is completely decked up with Christmas decorations to indulge in mini holiday photo-shoot.
v) Japantown: LA’s Japantown/Little Tokyo is one of the only three remaining of its kind in California and is a fun place to hangout with your dog. It is a small enclave of lots of restaurants serving Ramen, Okonomiyaki and other Asian fare and has several bakeries and small shops. Since all of them are in an outdoor area and close to one another, you can easily walk around with your dog and enjoy the bustling scene, especially during the holidays.
vi) Viewing Points in Los Angeles: Besides Griffith Park that I mentioned before, Los Angeles has several other lookout points from where you can enjoy a spectacular view of the city. Many that are open to the public welcome dogs as well. Universal city overlook near Hollywood Hills is the spot that we chose to get a peek of LA glistening at night and you should definitely check it out if you are visiting Los Angeles, pup or no pup.
C) Dog friendly restaurants in Los Angeles
Los Angeles will pleasantly surprise you with its large number of dog friendly restaurants, thanks to the famous LA weather that allows for patio dining. This always dependable guide by Eater LA, this helpful guide by Rover and this other one on restaurants that allow dogs in Los Angeles came in very handy while I was planning for a trip to LA with Babu.
Since we visited Los Angeles over Christmas, it was important to find some restaurants with heated patios for dining outdoors at night. I highly recommend the following places for breakfast/brunch/lunch/dinner with your pup when in Los Angeles:
i) Jane Q: This casual coffee bar and restaurant inside the dog friendly Kimpton Everly hotel serves Californian American fare and hold your breath, allows dogs to dine inside (with advanced permission of course!) It was a true blue blessing for us on a cold night in December in LA when we just wanted a quick bite and did not want to gulp down our food while shivering in cold outside.
ii) Alcove Cafe and Bakery: This classic staple of Echo park is the perfect place to start your day over a steaming cup of Chai (or whatever your poison maybe), artisanal baked goods and their very own chocolates. Their sunny patio is dog friendly and a sure fire winner!
iii) Zinqué: Located at one end of Abbot Kinney Blvd on Venice Blvd, this Californian French restaurant offers yummy brunch in a pleasant, leafy, enclosed patio which welcomes dogs.
iv) The Butcher’s Daughter: This super popular vegetarian and vegan restaurant is also a hit with dog owners for their enclosed heated outdoor seating. The food and kombucha on tap are an added bonus!
v) Taco trucks: These might not be the first that come to your mind when dining with dogs, but think about it-LA is famous for its taco trucks that are indispensable to its dynamic food scene. Since the trucks are parked on the roadside, you can easily grab your order and eat on the sidewalk with your pup.
Just come in early or a little late to avoid the long lines and crowd. Although we visited during the holidays when most trucks do not operate, we still managed to get our mouths around the famous shrimp tacos from the revered Marisco Jalisco, considered to have some of the best tacos in all of LA (and beyond), on one lazy afternoon. That was possibly the best meal we had in Los Angeles, hands down!
D) Dog friendly day trips from Los Angeles
If you have time to spare or are visiting LA for an extended period of time, then how about one or a few day trips with your pup to leave the city hustle & bustle behind? Luckily for you, there are some terrific and dare I say, outlandishly beautiful towns and cities very close to LA that you can explore for a change of scene. Here are some of my recommendations for day trips or dog friendly weekend getaways in Southern California:
i) Santa Barbara: Seems like it’s been ages since we visited Santa Barbara (although it was sometime in 2013), a charming seaside college town which is only 2 hours northwest of LA and honestly has it all. Sunny weather for days, lots of dog friendly beaches, dog parks, plenty of outdoor dining to choose from and of course, many dog friendly wineries for a day of wine tasting with your puppy. Downtown Santa Barbara is also very welcoming to dogs in case you’re in the mood for some shopping and sightseeing.
ii) Solvang: This cute as a button and straight out of a Hans Christian Andersen fairytale city is USA’s Danish capital and lies only 50 minutes northwest of Santa Barbara. This town in Santa Ynez valley is a huge tourist attraction, thanks to the picture postcard like Scandinavian houses and windmills dotting its main square bustling with stores and restaurants. There is also a replica of the Little Mermaid to complete the ambiance.
Solvang is extremely dog friendly but can get crowded over the weekend. If you want to avoid the crowds, arrive either early or explore the nearby towns of Buellton (where Alexander Payne’s famous movie “Sideways” was filmed) or Los Alamos, SoCal’s best kept secret in dining, wine tasting and R&R.
iii) Ojai: This artsy inland town filled with quirky stores and good eats was our best discovery of 2019 and easily counts as one of the most dog friendly day trips from Los Angeles. When in Ojai, stay at Casa Ojai Inn (pet friendly and charges $25/night/dog) and explore the arcade plaza stores stretched along Ojai Avenue.
Start with breakfast at the local’s favorite Beacon Coffee Company, stop for lunch at the supremely popular The Nest (large patio area) for local, Californian fare and end your day with dinner in the heated patio of the locavorian fast casual Lebanese Ojai Rotie.
Vegetarians and vegans should stop by the delightful Farmer and The Cook in Ojai Valley which specializes in vegetarian (and vegan) Mexican food, fresh juices and smoothies while also selling a lot of local products.
This mural is outside the store “Summer Camp”, a place for custom framing and vintage home and lifestyle goods
Besides eating, there are many other dog friendly stores to explore along Ojai avenue, my favorite being Bungalow and its sister restaurant Fig selling home decor and other locally made items for the home and garden. We also loved hanging out at Bart’s Books, the largest independently owned and operated outdoor bookstore in USA where well behaved dogs are welcome to turn the pages amongst rows of bookcases standing in an open courtyard.
Owing to its proximity to the Santa Ynez valley, Ojai has no dearth of wineries many of which are dog friendly. For those not into alcohol, I highly recommend wetting your throat with something different-aka, a Kombucha tasting with Ojai’s very own Revel kombucha at Revel Kombucha Bar!
A flight of four costs merely $8 and you can enjoy it outside on a grassy lawn with your pup. Revel has several flavors to choose from and their Jun kombuchas are some of the breeziest ones that I’ve ever tasted with solid notes of lavender, ginger and fruit and just a hint of tart.
Finally, Ojai may not have those sandy beaches since it is inland and all, but has two very grassy dog parks for your pup to frolic around. Libby Park (across the arcade) and Michael Edelson park welcome dogs. You can see the majestic Topa Topa mountain range surrounding the latter during your walks.
This brings me to the end of this dog friendly Los Angeles guide (see Google Maps below for all the dog friendly places we visited in Los Angeles). LA is a huge sprawling city with so many dog friendly activities to enjoy, it would be a real shame to leave your pup behind.
I hope this guide has given you enough fodder to plan on where to take your dog in Los Angeles and beyond. Please share your experiences with me if this post inspires you to visit LA with your dog and thanks so much for reading! For more of Babu’s California adventures, you can read all of his past travels here.
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