San Francisco

The Best Dog-Friendly Spots in San Francisco

Let your dog finally have its day with the best pooch-friendly spots in San Francisco.

Photo by Daisy Barringer
Photo by Daisy Barringer
Photo by Daisy Barringer

Dogs are everywhere in SF. You see them brunching at fancy restaurants, riding in backpacks on bicycles, frolicking in the surf of our many beaches, peeking out of expensive handbags, posing for photos atop vistas, and generally living their best lives. In fact, if you feel like you see way more dogs than kids, you’re right-you do. That’s ‚Äėcause there are legitimately more dogs than children in San Francisco. As of a few years ago, that number was around 118,000 minors compared to anywhere between 120,000 and 500,000 dogs (and let’s be real, as of 2020, there are definitely fewer kiddos and way more doggos). So it’s no surprise that SF has lots of great places for pooches of all shapes and sizes (along with their human counterparts) to truly thrive. Here are some of our favorite parks, beaches, bars, restaurants, and boats on which to take our four-legged, three-legged, and sometimes even two-legged fur babies.

Flickr/Fido Factor
Flickr/Fido Factor
Flickr/Fido Factor

Fort Funston

Lakeshore
If you live in SF and have a canine companion, then Fort Funston is already on your radar but considering this beach with 200-foot high sandy bluffs and all kinds of hiking trails (which range from easy to legit, strenuous-especially if you go all the way down to the water) is probably one of the best dog parks in the entire country, it obviously needs to be included on this list. Even if you don’t feel like breaking a sweat, it’s worth it just to hang on the bluffs and watch the hang gliders soar in the sky. Dogs are allowed off-leash but must be under voice control (and keep in mind you may bump into horses).

James Kirkikis/Shutterstock
James Kirkikis/Shutterstock
James Kirkikis/Shutterstock

Crissy Field

Presidio
Crissy Field has pretty much everything a dog (or human) could want: a waterfront path with views of pretty much everything that makes SF iconic, grassy areas, beaches with waters that are calm enough for swimming, and picnic areas with charcoal grills. For the most part, dogs are allowed off-leash, as long as they’re under voice control, but just keep an eye out for signs since there are some protected wildlife areas throughout.

El Rio

Bernal Heights/Mission
El Rio should be on everyone’s list of places to hang out just because it’s got a great vibe, invests in social change, local arts, and music, and underserved communities, and allows pets in both the indoor bar and the spacious outdoor garden. Keep in mind, pets shouldn’t attend larger parties where there will be loud music, big crowds, and general chaos, but most dog owners wouldn’t want to put their furry best friend through that kind of mayhem anyway.

Unsplash/Andreas Strandman
Unsplash/Andreas Strandman
Unsplash/Andreas Strandman

Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach isn’t San Francisco’s most scenic beach (although it does have expansive stretches of sand, crashing waves, and pretty stellar sunsets-it just happens to face extremely stiff competition ‚Äėcause of bluffs and bridges and all of that stuff a lot of other beaches have), but you know what your dog doesn’t care about? Views. You know what your dog does care about? Those expansive stretches of sand and water, which are perfect for frolicking, digging, lounging, and general dog-meets-beach merriment. OB also tends to be the least crowded beach (not just because of the lack of “views” but also because it’s 3.5-miles long), and your pup is free to roam almost all of it off-leash (save for Stairwell 21 to Sloat Blvd) year-round.

Toronado

Lower Haight
The bartenders at this famous beer bar are notoriously surly (know you order, have your cash ready, etc.), but how surly can anyone in a bar that allows dogs really be? (We don’t recommend you try to find out, but you get the gist.) If you love beer, you’ll love Toronado because it has over 40 beers on tap, including many that are popular but elusive. There’s also a good jukebox, outdoor seating, and not only can you bring your dog (indoors and out), you can also bring hot dogs (as in sausages) from Berliner Berliner right next door-or whatever food strikes your fancy! Toronado can get really crowded on weekend nights, so if you’re planning on heading there on a Friday or Saturday and want to be inside, you’re better off leaving any furry friends at home.

Photo courtesy of Park Chalet
Photo courtesy of Park Chalet
Photo courtesy of Park Chalet

Park Chalet

Golden Gate Park/Ocean Beach
When the sun is shining, Park Chalet’s back lawn is the perfect place to kick back, drink a beer, and eat some fish tacos. It’s also a popular place to bring dogs since the lawn area is spacious and has a super laid-back vibe. (Good to know: It is also a very popular place to bring children, so if your dog is not down with toddlers, you’ll want to keep a close eye on them.) There are tables on the lawn, but if one isn’t available, you’re also welcome to put down a picnic blanket or just find a spot on the grass. Go on the weekend in the summer, and there’s a good chance you’ll also be able to enjoy some live music.

Photo by Daisy Barringer
Photo by Daisy Barringer
Photo by Daisy Barringer

Dolores Park

Mission
A soccer field, tennis courts, a basketball court, expansive green lawns, a children’s playground, amazing people watching, and not one but two off-leash dog play areas‚Ķ Needless to say, there’s a reason Dolores Park is one of SF’s most popular green spaces, especially on a sunny Saturday or Sunday. The off-leash play areas are on the slope of the south side and the flatter (usually less crowded) part of the north side by the soccer field. Keep in mind, none of it is fenced in, and Dolores Park is surrounded by pretty traffic-heavy streets, so you’ll want to either keep your dog close or make sure that your voice control commands are dialed in.

Zazie

Cole Valley
You can always bring your well-behaved dog to sit outside with you at this popular French-inspired bistro that draws long lines for brunch, but if you bring Fifi or Fido to dinner on the back patio on Monday night, you’ll also score $10 off a bottle of wine for you and endless treats for them.

Unsplash/Mick Haupt
Unsplash/Mick Haupt
Unsplash/Mick Haupt

Lands End

Sea Cliff
Okay, if your dog is really into views (or you’re really into photos of your dog with great views in the background), then head to Lands End, which allows dogs to be off-leash year-round. The winding trail along the rocky cliffs overlooking the ocean is a little narrow in parts and extremely steep in others, so you’ll want to make sure your pup is friendly or super good with voice control, but it’s one of the most beautiful urban hikes you’ll find in town with lots of cool stops along the way, including turn-of-the-century gun emplacements, views of shipwrecks, and the ruins of Sutro Baths. There’s also a “hidden” beach (Mile Rock) where you can both sink your feet/paws into the sand and Pacific Ocean, assuming you’re both okay with a bit of a steep hike.

Flickr/50-phi
Flickr/50-phi
Flickr/50-phi

Golden Gate Park

What dog isn’t going to love roaming over 1,000 acres of pastoral meadows, winding paths, and wooded groves? Golden Gate Park is a total no-brainer when it comes to human and dog enjoyment as there are seemingly endless areas to explore. Technically, your dog needs to be on-leash except when in designated off-leash areas, but if you’re chilling out on a picnic blanket, the chances that you get called out for letting your pup do a little sniffing of nearby spots is pretty much zilch. If you prefer to follow the rules, the four off-leash areas in the park are an all-sand dog training area in the northwest corner of the park, and play areas in the northeast corner of the park off Stanyan Street, the southeast corner near Kezar Stadium, and the southwest quadrant.

Photo courtesy of Blue & Gold Fleet
Photo courtesy of Blue & Gold Fleet
Photo courtesy of Blue & Gold Fleet

Blue & Gold Fleet Cruises and Ferry Rides

The San Francisco Bay
Okay, you know how whenever you’re on a boat, you suddenly feel like you’re living your best life, or at least a pretty good life? Don’t you think your dog deserves to know what it’s like to feel his ears flap and/or tail wag in the wind while soaring across the Bay? Good news: The Blue & Gold Fleet, which runs sightseeing cruises and a ferry service to Sausalito, agrees. You just need to keep your dog on a leash at all times.

Barebottle Brewing

Bernal Heights
Spend a lazy day drinking hazy IPAs at this brewery and taproom known for its innovative beers and use of local ingredients. The SF location is also known for a pretty sweet game selection, including Killer Queen, shuffleboard, ping pong, table soccer, pinball, and more. Oh, and kids and dogs are allowed, although the rules for kids seem to be a little stricter. Check the schedule to see what food truck is popping up in the parking lot that day.

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Daisy Barringer doesn’t have kids, but she does have a very loveable, very enormous, and very slobbery Saint Bernard named Monkey, who can often be found strolling around Cole Valley, down Haight Street, or in Golden Gate Park. (That is when he’s not rolling around in the snow in Tahoe). Follow her on Instagram for pics of her magnificent floofer-nutter.

San Francisco

How to Celebrate Black History Month in San Francisco

Support and celebrate SF's Black community.

Courtesy of Black Joy Parade
Courtesy of Black Joy Parade
Courtesy of Black Joy Parade

Though it’s something we need to be doing every day of every month of every year, Black History Month encourages us to pay tribute to the struggles and oppression generations of Black Americans have faced, as well as their often-neglected triumphs and achievements that have helped shape this county and make it better. It’s a time to reflect on how we can do better to confront racism and oppression, which this year’s theme, “Black Resistance,” echoes. This is especially important in a town like San Francisco, where the Fillmore District was known as “the Harlem of the West” before the city displaced a vast portion of the neighbourhood’s Black community in the ’60s and ’70s. This displacement continues today, as the Black population is the only racial group that has declined in every census since 1970.

If you’re looking for ways to celebrate Black History Month, there are lots to do. Whether you want to educate yourself by attending films, performances, or conversations, share the joy at a parade or dance party, or do a little bit of it all at a drag show, here are just a few ways you can get involved and have a lot of fun while doing so:

Visit San Francisco Public Library branches for workshops, films, performances, and more

February (and throughout the year)
Library branches and online
SFPL’s “More Than a Month” celebration focuses on the theme of resistance this year. Family-friendly and adult events include film screenings, musical performances, book clubs, workshops, and more.
Cost: Free

Museum of African Diaspora
Museum of African Diaspora
Museum of African Diaspora

See art, poetry, films, talks, and more at MoAD

February (and throughout the year)
SoMa
Right now, at the Museum of African Diaspora, you can see the first and only West Coast exhibition of “The New Black Vanguard: Photography Between Art and Fashion,” which highlights the work of 15 contemporary fashion designers “whose images present radically new perspectives on the medium of photography and art, race and beauty, and gender and power.” The museum, which has a robust year-round program and event calendar, has a slew of events to attend, including youth poetry readings, film screenings, open mic nights, book clubs, artist talks, and more.
Cost: Event prices vary; GA to visit the museum is $12 but free every second Saturday of the month

Check out films, art, reading, talks, and more at BAMPFA

February (and throughout the year)
Berkeley
There is always something interesting to discover at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA). During Black History Month, you can see films by Pratibha Parmar, “Felwine Sarr: Music, Freedom, Africa,” a conversation through music with the Senegalese writer, scholar, composer, musician, and more.
Cost: Varies

Old Skool Cafe
Old Skool Cafe
Old Skool Cafe

Enjoy menu specials honoring Black community members at Old Skool Cafe

February (and throughout the year)
Bayview
For Black History Month, Old Skool Cafe is adding the favourite meals of notable Black community members to the menu each weekend. The nonprofit, youth-run supper club helps at-risk, formerly incarcerated, and foster care youth ages 16-22 gain the skills and experience they need to succeed in various front and back-of-house restaurant roles. Bayview hero/community advocate Mrs. Dorris Vincent is first up, followed by Judge Trina Thompson, Delroy Lindo, and Mayor London Breed.

Yerba Buena Gardens
Yerba Buena Gardens
Yerba Buena Gardens

Walk beneath the Marting Luther King, Jr. Memorial waterfall

February (and ongoing)
Yerba Buena Gardens
Did you know that Yerba Buena Gardens is home to the country’s second-largest memorial to Dr. King? Visit the sculptural waterfall featuring glass panels inscribed with his inspiring words at 750 Howard Street.
Cost: Free

Attend the Commonwealth’s “Dreaming Forward: A Celebration of Black Joy, Power, and Excellence” conference

Thursday, February 9
Embarcadero
On behalf of Dr. Sheryl Evans Davis and the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, the Commonwealth Club is hosting its second annual Dream Keeper Initiative, a day-long conference/celebration/call-to-action featuring special guests, including April Ryan of TheGrio and CNN.
Cost: Free

Courtesy of Oakland First Fridays
Courtesy of Oakland First Fridays
Courtesy of Oakland First Fridays

Celebrate Black Love at Oakland First Fridays

Friday, February 10
Telegraph Avenue from West Grand to 27th Street
Telegraph Avenue transforms into a dining, shopping, and art-appreciating party on Friday, February 10, from 5 pm to 9 pm. There will be food, artist, and retail vendors and a host of Black artists, authors, and entertainment. Please note: This event was rescheduled from February 3 because of potential rain.
Cost: Free

Have a ball at an all-Black drag show at Oasis

Friday, February 10
SoMa
“Reparations with Latrice Royale” is an all-Black drag show hosted by Latrice Royale, the beloved Drag Race star who also happens to be celebrating her birthday.
Cost: $15 to $60

Dance all night and shop all day at the Afro Soca Love carnival and marketplace

Friday, February 10 ‚Äď Saturday, February 11
341 13th Street, Oakland
Afro Soca Love creates experiences that act as a “gateway to building bonds and strengthen relationships-between communities, individuals, and Africa and its diaspora.” See for yourself at the all-ages marketplace (Saturday), where you’ll find food and drink, fashion, beauty and wellness, home decor, and more. But before the shopping comes the dancing at the 21+ Friday Night Carnival, a culturally immersive music experience with music from all over the world.
Cost: The marketplace is free; tickets to the Friday Night Carnival start at $20

See a live performance of “Words That Made the Difference: Brown vs. the Board of Education”

Saturday, February 11
Unity Palo Alto
See a live theatrical performance based on the true events that occurred in the fight to end school segregation. The script draws from trial transcripts of the five cases brought together in front of the Supreme Court and Chief Justice Earl Warren’s memoirs, and the play is set in the courtrooms where it all happened. There will be a Q&A with the playwright before the performance and the cast afterward.
Cost: Free

Courtesy of San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Company
Courtesy of San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Company
Courtesy of San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Company

Go to the I, Too, Sing America album release party

Saturday, February 11
Mission
Head to the Brava Theater Center to celebrate the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Company’s album release of the music created for I, Too, Sing America, a soulful and uplifting performance that moved audiences when it debuted last year. The night includes an album-listening and sing-along party, DJs, dancing, an open bar, and more.
Cost: $40

Go on the Black Liberation Walking Tour of West Oakland

Saturday, February 18
West Oakland
Take a walk with David Peters, founder of the West Oakland Cultural Action Network, and Gene Anderson, the author of Legendary Locals of Oakland, to learn about resident voices and document sites of cultural and historical significance in the neighbourhood. Peters is a local native, and Anderson is an Oakland historian whose family has historical roots in West Oakland.
Cost: $50 ($30 for West Oakland residents)

See a screening of The Black Kung Fu Experience followed by in-person demonstrations

Sunday, February 19
Great Star Theater, Chinatown
The Chinese Historical Society of America is celebrating Black History Month and social unity with a screening of this film about how a group of African American pioneers became respected in a subculture dominated by Chinese and white men. Afterward, there will be demonstrations and talks with Sifu Donald Hamby and Sifu Troy Dunwood, who “will speak about their success as internationally recognized martial arts masters, their Chinese Kung Fu teachers, and what this practice means in relation to diversity, race and inclusion issues.”
Cost: $15

Sip wine made by Black winemakers at a free tasting event at STEM Kitchen + Garden

Thursday, February 23
Dogpatch
STEM Kitchen + Garden is hosting an afternoon wine tasting celebrating Black-owned wineries in its gorgeous indoor/outdoor space, and best of all, and it’s free to the public!
Cost: Free

Bayview Opera House
Bayview Opera House
Bayview Opera House

Attend the San Francisco African American Arts & Cultural District Gala Fundraiser

Saturday, February 25
Bayview Opera House
Enjoy an evening of talent, fashion, and community inspiration at SFAAACD’s 1st Annual Gala Fundraiser. Carla Duke, Television News Director at CBS-KPIX Chanel 5, will host the event, which includes inspiring words from keynote speaker Aniyia Williams, an artist, tech creator, and system-preneur.
Cost: $100

Attend a Black History Month & Chinese New Year Poetry Reading on Angel Island

Saturday, February 25
Angel Island
There is so much history in poetry at the Angel Island Detention Barracks Museum, which makes it a fitting location for poets Chun Yu and Michael Warr. The co-founders of Two Languages/One Community will share their poems and stories in English and Chinese, accompanied by projected images of text and photographs.
Cost: $10 to $21

Courtesy of Black Joy Parade
Courtesy of Black Joy Parade
Courtesy of Black Joy Parade

Feel the joy at the Black Joy Parade

Sunday, February 26
Downtown Oakland
This parade and festival celebrate the “Black experience past, present, and future.” Be prepared to experience “more Black joy than you ever imagined,” starting with the parade (beginning at 14th and Franklin) at 12:30 pm. The family-friendly festival follows (main entrance is at 19th and Franklin) will include 200-plus Black-owned small businesses selling food, drinks, clothing, art, and more. There will also be two stages with Black performers, including The Black Joy Choir.
Cost: Free

Take a sound bath at Grace Cathedral in honor of Black History Month

Monday, February 27
Nob Hill
Take an immersive sound bath featuring Fractals of Sound, a collective of top Bay Area musicians Egemen Sanli, Phoenix Song, and Sam Jackson, with special guest Destiny Muhammad. Together, they will create a “soundscape deeply rooted in world music,” allowing you to take a meditative journey in one of the most beautiful places in San Francisco.
Cost: $25 to $75

See Tsitsi Dangarembga and Angela Davis at City Arts & Lectures

Tuesday, February 28
Civic Center
Co-presented with MoAd, City Arts & Lectures is hosting novelist Tsitsi Dangarembga and scholar and activist Angela Davis for what’s sure to be a riveting conversation.
Cost: $36

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Daisy Barringer¬†is an SF-based freelance writer who spent many childhood days wandering around the Exploratorium. Follow her on¬†Instagram¬†to see what she’s up to now.

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