Dog Beach in Ocean Beach

San Diego is very much a dog-friendly city – people take their pooches everywhere, and most businesses seem to welcome them. Dog Beach, located in the Ocean Beach community, is San Diego’s only 24-hour beach for dogs. They’re permitted to run around without a leash, but owners are still responsible for controlling their dogs and cleaning up after them. This large, sandy area is at the north end of Ocean Beach closest to lifeguard tower #5, with ample parking and a nearby volleyball area. All sizes and dog breeds are welcome there. Just don’t be surprised if your relaxing beach day results in dogs sprinting across your carefully-placed towel, leaving wet sand in their wake.

For a tasty meal with a stellar ocean view, head to OB Surf Lodge that opened earlier this year. Located directly below its sister restaurant Wonderland Ocean Pub, OB Surf Lodge has a casual beach vibe and a huge outdoor patio. Billed as “California comfort food,” the restaurant serves brunch, lunch and dinner. For an appetizer, try the fried cheese curds with guajillo and cilantro aioli dipping sauces or the lump crab & fried green tomatoes with poblano citrus slaw and cilantro aioli. Both fried dishes are particularly good if you’re trying to soak up some of the boozy cocktails from their drink list. My favorite is the super fresh Thai dreams cocktail with coconut rum; melon, orange and pineapple juices; and vanilla. It’s like vacation in a glass.

Lump crab & fried green tomatoes, fried cheese curds at OB Surf Lodge

For an entree, try their take on shrimp & grits – the jalapeno-glazed shrimp with creamy polenta and grilled sourdough. Or for a lighter dish, opt for the grilled market fish (changes daily), served with grilled rainbow chard, baby squash, roasted potatoes, white corn puree, and tarragon oil. The day I was there, they were serving fresh-caught halibut, which I can never resist.

Jalapeno-glazed shrimp, grilled market fish

Finish off your meal with the chef’s bread pudding du jour, with flavors like caramel apple, served with vanilla ice cream on top. Visit the restaurant for happy hour Monday through Friday from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. for specials on drinks and biscuit sandwiches. My southern heart likes the sound of that!

Chef’s bread pudding du jour