10 free (or nearly free!) activities you can do with your dog in LA

If you know anything about me, you know my dogs are a huge part of my life. All of the activities I love to do, I try to find a way to take my dogs along. Living in LA, we have great weather and can spend a lot of our time outside, even in the winter months. The downside to live in LA (besides the traffic!) is that Southern California is a very expensive place to live. Our income goes to pay our high cost of living expenses – rent, food, fuel, car payments, pet food – and sometimes there’s not a whole lot left over at the end of the month. 

But money is no barrier to having fun with your dog in LA. All those people you see on social media having spa treatments and shopping sprees? Trust me, that stuff will never come close the the joy you experience when you’re out enjoying life with your dog. 

All you need is a water bowl (I have a collapsible one), a leash, some treats, extra poop bags and, of course, your canine companion.

Here’s my list of 10 no-cost or low-cost things you can do with your dog in LA. 

1. Hiking. Hiking is one of my favorite pastimes. Sometimes it’s just an hour long walk together among the trees while other times we might be out much longer. We live close to the Angeles National Forest and have lots of access to trails but no matter where you are in LA County, you can access open space and trails quite easily. When I’m looking for new routes, I go to alltrails.com and search for dog-friendly hikes. (Check out our blog for hiking tips)

2. Los Angeles Equestrian Center. Located in Burbank, Southern California’s largest horse facility is home to lots of equines of all types and hosts equestrian events throughout the year. The grounds are open to the public and, provided you keep your dog on a leash and always yield to horses and the humans handling them, are a full-on adventure for your dog with all the horsey sights and smells. 

Rossi, Maggie & Tuxedo

3. Travel Town. This Griffith Park institution is bustling with kids and activity. The railway museum and the grounds are pet-friendly and even the most cynical adult will enjoy a few hours celebrating the magic of trains.

4. Rosie’s dog beach. Splish Splash! Rosie’s dog beach in Huntington Beach is a free off-leash dog beach. Let your pup enjoy jumping the water, chasing tennis balls and making some new friends under the sun.

5. Griffith Park Observatory. This iconic LA landmark allows pets on the grounds but not in the observatory building. The views are spectacular, especially on a clear night.

6. Window shopping at an outdoor mall. As a professional dog trainer, I go to malls with clients’ dogs to work on socialization and public behavior. There’s a lot going on, a lot to look at and lots of mental stimulation for your pet. My favorite spots are the Promenade in Topanga, Century City, the Grove and 3rd Street Promenade. Many shops are pet-friendly too but always ask before entering to be sure.

Rambo at the Promenade on Topanga

7. Pet store field trip! This is the canine equivalent of Toys R Us for kids. Petsmart, Petco, Healthy Spot, any of your favorite local pet stores are a bucket list item for your dog. There’s other dogs, lots of food, cat adoptions and miles of aisles with all sorts of awesome smells. You don’t have to buy anything, just cruise around and be part of the culture.

Low cost options... 

While these activities have fees involved, they’re very affordable and will fit most budgets. I don’t know about you but I’d rather skip my vanilla latte or tickets to the ArcLight if it means more fun with my fur family.

8. Kayaking.  Like most of you, I don’t own a kayak. When I want to take my dogs out on the water, I go to a dog-friendly outfitter and rent one for a few hours. Most dogs love water and paddling around is a great way for them to experience a new environment. To get the best deals, look on Groupon or similar for discounts and coupons. If you need a life jacket for your dog, you can find great deals at stores like Home Goods or TJ Maxx.

9. Grab a drink. Los Angeles has a burgeoning craft brewery scene and many are pet friendly. So if you’re grabbing a drink with a friend perhaps try a spot that your pup can come along too. Consider: Angel City Brewery, The Morrison (has a dog menu too!), Golden Road Brewery Pub or Beachwood Brewery & BBQ. Not a fan of beer? More of a coffee person? Check out Muddy Paw Coffee on Sunset, a cute pet friendly coffee shop that helps support local animal shelters too.

Rossi and our friend @amazinggraciedoodle at Angel City Brewery

10 Enjoy a movie together.  At EatSeeHear, an outdoor movie theater in LA, dogs are welcome to screenings all the time. And as a bonus they’re offered biscuits at the door. If you rather stay in your car away from strangers, consider Electric Dusk, one of the area’s last remaining drive-ins where you dog can be watching along in the car with you.

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