You were not going to be one of those pet owners, but this little lump of fur is so cute. It started simply with organic rawhide chews, then a down dog bed, and there was the cable-knit sweater for all those windy late-night walks… Now, to avoid separation anxiety (for yourself as well as Fido), you’ve moved on to pet-friendly getaways.
But with all the allergies and phobias people have added to their resumes these days, is there really an affordable place to which you can escape without feeling like you’re rooming in aisle three at Petco? Fear not, my friend. Pet-friendly travel travel does not have to be full of cat hair, squeaky toys, or the cast of Best in Show. These seven retreats will have you wondering why you didn’t let your four-legged friend run your life sooner.
1. Play Across the Bay in Sausalito
Pooch Play: This pretty hamlet across the Bay has a little bit of everything: great hikes, beach walks, wine tastings, shopping, delicious food, spectacular views… And you can pal around with your pooch through it all. Start the day off taking in spectacular city views while exploring the Marin Headlands trails. Then trek down to Rodeo Beach, where you can take a coastal hike or throw a frisbee down the sandy stretch.
Doggie Bags: Pet-friendly restaurants abound in Sausalito. Fred’s Place (1917 Bridgeway Boulevard) is renowned as “best breakfast in town,” and Fish (350 Harbor Drive), Poggio (777 Bridgeway Boulevard), and Kitti’s Place (3001 Bridgeway Boulevard) all offer delicious food and dog-friendly environments. “Wine down” with a tasting at Wellington’s (300 Turney Street), Sausalito’s waterfront spot for wine, beer, cheese, and gourmet chocolate.
(No) Kennel Club: It’s good to be a dog at Cavallo Point (601 Murray Circle), where your best friend will be treated to super absorbent towels, plush bedding, and organic treats.
Directions: Pets are permitted on the Golden Gate Ferry, which makes daily departures from San Francisco to Sausalito. All dogs must be in hand-held containers while aboard the ferry.
2. Hang 20 in Huntington Beach
Pooch Play: Dog surfing? Yessiree. Pups can Surf USA in Huntington Beach. The town lays claim to a mile-long stretch of sand that is one of the best dog beaches around. And we’re not kidding about the dog surfing. Surf City Surf Dog is an annual end-of-summer surf competition, plus fashion show, costume contest, and yappy hour. In order to prep the pooch, the festival that offers private doggie surf lessons July through September
Doggie Bags: Park Bench Cafe (17732 Goldenwest Sttreet) has been offering doggie menus since 1993. The canine cuisine here includes boneless chicken strips, bacon bits, and lean ground turkey. You can look forward to omelets, burgers, and much more.
(N0) Kennel Club: The breezy Shorebreak Hotel offers discounted dog sitting, pet beds, and even a Dog Is Good Pet Package, which includes a credit for a doggie/human dinner date at Zimzala, plus a gift set with toys, waste bags, and bowls.
Directions: You can fly into John Wayne Airport (20 minutes away) or Long Beach Airport (30 minutes away). The drive from San Francisco to Huntington Beach takes just under eight hours. Once there, it’s easy to get around car-free. See our guide to getting around.
3. Have a Doggone Day(s) in Healdsburg
Pooch Play: With the motto, “bark less, wag more,” it’s no wonder Mutt Lynch Winery (602 Limerick Lane) has received statewide and international awards for being the most dog-friendly winery. It’s a family affair here. Owners Brenda and Chris (and their dog Patch) will let you sniff around the grounds, and throw a few treats your dog’s way while you chat and taste.
Advanced reservations are required, but $5 for a tasting (you keep the glass) is a doggone good deal. A portion of the proceeds from all bottles sold is donated to animal rescue organizations in the area. Watch out for special events like “Yappy Hour” and Dog-A-Palooza (check the website for upcoming happenings), or the winery will happily cater your dog’s next birthday, puppy shower, or “Bark-mitzvah.”
Doggie Bags: Soak up the vino (and some sun) at one of Healdsburg’s many restaurants with pup-friendly patios. Barndiva (231 Center Street) serves up local eats in a stunning outdoor space, and Willi’s Seafood & Raw Bar (403 Healdsburg Avenue) is located next to a schmancy pet outfitters store (Fideaux, 43 North Street).
(No) Kennel Club: High-energy pups will love the rural walks at Bella Villa Messina (316 Burgundy Road), which is situated a bit outside downtown Healdsburg. You’ll love the exquisite antiques and fabulous breakfast.
Directions: Because some of the buses to Sonoma County do not allow dogs, you might want to drive to Mutt Lynch Winery.
4. Bark Up Some Trees in Mammoth Lakes
Pooch Play: Rover can rove and romp where he will (often off-leash) in Mammoth’s forests, which boast the only stretch of the John Muir Trail where dogs are allowed. Plus, come summer, dogs ride free on public transit, including the local buses, shuttle to Red’s Meadow, and gondola to the Mammoth Mountain summit.
Doggie Bags: Sip margaritas on the pet-friendly patio at Roberto’s Cafe (271 Old Mammoth Road), then head over to Tailwaggers Bakery (437 Old Mammoth Road) for a better-than-kibble treat.
(No) Kennel Club: There are at least 20 dog-friendly hotels in Mammoth, and a website devoted to them: mammothdogs.com.
Directions: Fly into Mammoth Yosemite Airport. From there you can get around via public transit.
5. A Great Weekend Unleashed: Carmel-by-the-Sea
Pooch Play: Dubbed “America’s Most Dog-Friendly Small City” by Dog Fancy Magazine, Carmel-by-the-Sea certainly lives up to its name. Here, shop owners generously leave out treats and water for four-legged visitors, art galleries hang paintings at dog’s-eye level, and hitching posts and doggie-bag stations line the streets. Carmel Beach is one of California’s few leash-free beaches, where these lucky dogs run the beach (literally).
That’s all to say nothing of the Fountain of Woof. Oh, and the “town dog,” Pal, who is the only village resident to be buried in the one-mile city limits (and whose portrait has hung in City Hall since he died 80 years ago).
Doggie Bags: The Dog Pound at Forge in the Forest (Junipero Street and 5th Avenue) is an enclosed patio with its own entrance. On the “Canine Cuisine” menu? An 8-ounce New York steak.
(No) Kennel Club: Pack some stylish doggie duds, because at the Cypress Inn (Lincoln Street), owned by animal lover Doris Day, dogs are invited to afternoon tea. Here you’re also likely to pal around with Betty White or Barbara Eden (of “I Dream of Jeannie” fame), both animal lovers who frequent the hotel. And “mutt-tinis” are available at yappy hour too.
Directions: Because the public transportation services from San Francisco to Carmel do not allow dogs, it’s best to drive. Once you’re in town, however, you can get around easily on foot.
6. Walk on the Wild Side: Albany Bulb Adventure
Pooch Play: Is Princess getting restless? A nice long walk should help things. Explore the East Bay shoreline (known as Albany Bulb) and get a true rails-to-trails experience. At Albany Bulb, the city and the wilderness collide. The beginning of the route starts on the Ohlone Greenway, a trail that runs next to the BART tracks. Along the way, you’ll find people observing wildlife while others check out the rotating collection of sculpture art along the trail. While the Albany Bulb is on flat ground, plan ahead as it can take four or five hours to walk the trails.
Doggie Bags: Solano Avenue offers a wealth of restaurants that welcome four-legged friends. Enjoy some organic eats at Cafe Ina (1389 Solano Avenue), or savor some Italian at Cugini (1556 Solano Avenue).
(No) Kennel Club: Keep things on the water at the Doubletree Berkeley Marina (200 Marina Boulevard), where you and Fido can enjoy stunning views, and homey touches like afternoon cookies. A complimentary shuttle links to BART too.
Directions: Barking news! Pets are allowed on BART trains, making car-free adventures with your hound a breeze. To get to the trail head take a Richmond BART train to El Cerrito Plaza. (On Sundays, take a Pittsburg/Bay Point train and transfer to a Richmond train at 12th Street.)
7. Go to the Dogs in San Diego
Pooch Play: San Diego ranks on many lists of top dog-friendly getaways for good reason. The beachy paradise offers no shortage shortage of places to run and frolic, from myriad dog beaches to parks aplenty, or you can pamper your pooch at pet spas, dog washes, and more.
Doggie Bags: Experience a local brunch favorite at the all-outdoor Stratford Court Cafe (1307 Stratford Court), or take in some ocean views and fine food at Pacifica Del Mar & Pacifica Breeze Cafe (1555 Camino Del Mar in the Del Mar Plaza).
(No) Kennel Club: Loews Coronado (4000 Coronado Bay Rd) pampers pets with gourmet room service menus, walking routes, treats, and more.
For more ideas on pet-friendly getaways, visit pooch heaven in Half Moon Bay. Bark voyage!
Photos: boltron- (2), CashKate, IHQ, Randy Son of Robert, _tar0_, sherrymain, moonjazz, Orbin Zebest (2), brainchildvn, jaycross, rikkis_refuge, Damian Gadal, Allie_Caulfield, Shorebreak Hotel, Cypress Inn,