Dog friendly California Destinations

dog news on dog friendly California

I found a great articles about traveling around California with your owner and thought it would be a great idea to share what I found. Considering California has great weather, wonderful beaches, beautiful parks and seems that any dog would be happy to visit California and mingle with sun-loving dogs.

John Flinn wrote this detailed article for The San Franciso Chronicle. He dedicates this story to his dog Tucker, who passed away while it was being researched. E-mail:


Dog Friendly California

San Francisco Chronicle

by: John Flinn

It’s yappy hour in the cocktail lounge of Carmel’s swanky Cypress Inn, and that’s no typo.

Among the quietly mingling guests – I never heard any actual yapping – are Djinn-Djinn, a winsome Labradoodle; Newton, a hyperaware Border collie-Australian shepherd mix; Sadie, a life-of-the-party Chihuahua; and Tucker, my 12-year-old golden retriever.

It’s just the kind of welcome we were looking for when we went in search of the most dog-friendly destinations in California. Our criteria: They had to have hotels and restaurants that did more than grudgingly accept pets – they had to roll out the red carpet for their four-legged guests. And they had to have lots of places – beaches, trails, tourist attractions – where dogs could romp off-leash.

Surfing, whale watching, gallery browsing, even canoeing – we found places in California where your dog can do it with you.

Huntington Beach: Dogs hang 20 in surf, then it’s off to dine, sleep

There’s more “bushy, bushy blond hair” than ever on this surf beach, but these days it’s as likely to belong to a golden retriever as a surfer dude.

Huntington Beach’s mile-long Dog Beach is the best of its kind in Southern California, a wide, inviting expanse of sand for off-leash romping and splashing in the surf.

This Orange County beach town works hard to promote itself as “Surf City, USA,” but it’s also a strong contender for “Dog City, USA,” with a wide selection of canine-friendly restaurants, hotels and attractions. If you ever wanted to watch a dog surf, or to train your dog to hang 20, this is the place.

Stay: The new Shorebreak Hotel boasts of 300-thread-count Frette linens, ocean views and romantic fire pits – but, truthfully, they had us at “no pet fee.”

A Joie de Vivre luxury boutique property, the Shorebreak exudes a laid-back-yet-upscale vibe that could be called “surfer chic.” It’s near the Huntington Beach Pier, a mile from Dog Beach.

There’s a bowl of dog treats at the desk, you can borrow a dog bed for free, and the hotel offers discounts on local pet-sitting services. Looking for more? Book the hotel’s High Maintenance Bitch package, which includes, among other things, a feather boa for your pet and a $25 credit on the room-service doggie menu.

At the hotel’s Zimzala Restaurant, which specializes in California comfort food, dogs are welcome to dine with their owners on the restaurant’s outdoor patio. If he’s been a good boy, order him some yogurt-dipped bacon strips from the Man’s Best Friend menu.

Details: 500 Pacific Coast Highway, Huntington Beach,, (714) 861-4470. Rooms start at $199. No pet fee.

A good budget alternative is the La Quinta Inn about 10 miles away at John Wayne Orange County Airport. Like most La Quintas, it charges no pet fee. 1515 South Coast Drive, Costa Mesa,, (714) 957-5841. Rooms start at $79, breakfast included.

Eat: At the Park Bench Café, your dog can dine with you at umbrella-shaded tables set up on the grass at the edge of Huntington Beach Central Park, a 350-acre recreation complex 2 miles from the beach.

Waiters will bring a water bowl and a canine cuisine menu that includes boneless chicken strips, bacon bits and, for dogs counting their carbs, lean ground turkey. Several California restaurants offer doggie menus, but the Park Bench Café is probably the first: It’s been doing it since 1993.

For humans, there are enormous omelets and eggs Benedict for breakfast and brunch, and burgers and salads for lunch.

Details: 17732 Goldenwest Street, Huntington Beach; (714) 842-0775; Open Tuesday through Sunday for breakfast and lunch. Cheeseburgers, $9.25; chicken strips off the doggie menu, $3.25.

Play: Huntington Beach’s off-leash Dog Beach stretches from Seapoint Avenue to Goldenwest Street. Get there early to grab one of the metered parking spots in the lots along the Pacifica Coast Highway ($1.50 an hour); otherwise hunt for parking on side streets.

A 15-foot-high cliff protects the beach – you don’t have to worry about your dog darting out onto the highway – but makes access a little tricky. Look for ramps at either end of the beach and a few improvised trails in between. Grab a couple of waste bags from one of the dispensers, and use them. Regulars here are fastidious about cleanliness. Don’t be the guy who just kicks a little sand over the brown bombs.

If your pet wants to graduate from dog-paddling to shooting the curl, this is his chance. A group called Surf City Surf Dog will host private one-on-one surf lessons for dogs this summer in preparation for an end-of-the-summer dog festival that culminates in a canine surfing competition.

Surf City Surf Dog starts the evening of Sept. 28 with a doggie fashion show complete with red carpet, and concludes Sept. 30 with the Surf Dog Competition. Details,

Dog surf lessons offered in July, August and September. Owners are required to get wet. $45. Inquiries,

Carmel: Town seems designed with dogs, devotees in mind

When Dog Fancy magazine went looking for the most dog-friendly small town in America, it chose Carmel as best of show. And for good reason: From Doris Day‘s cynophilic Cypress Inn to the town’s dazzling white leash-free beach to galleries that hang paintings at dog’s-eye level, everything about Carmel seems designed with dogs in mind. A good thing, too, because the town gets 50,000 canine visitors a year.

Walk down Ocean Avenue, the main street, and you’ll see dispensers of dog waste bags on the corners, “hitching posts” for leashes outside shops, and big jars of dog treats on the counters of boutiques and galleries. A sign outside one shop summed it up nicely: “All Dogs Welcome.”

Step into City Hall, and you’ll spot an oil painting of Pal, the “town dog.” It’s been hanging there since Pal died 79 years ago. Pal is the only village resident ever buried within Carmel’s 1-square-mile city limits. (Father Junipero Serra almost makes the list, but he was technically never a Carmel resident because the town wasn’t incorporated until 132 years after his death.)

Sleep: The Cypress Inn is a great spot to encounter dog-loving celebrities. I never saw owner Doris Day (who rarely drops by these days) or Betty White, a frequent visitor, but during yappy hour I found myself chatting with Barbara “I Dream of Jeannie” Eden, who told me she named her Labradoodle Djinn-Djinn after a dog she had on the show. “We come here two or three times a year,” she said. “It’s the only place we stay in Carmel, because of Djinn-Djinn.”

The Old World-style hotel, built in 1929, rolls out the red carpet for canine guests, who are served “mutt-tinis” at yappy hour (a water bowl in the shape of a big martini glass with a tennis ball dyed to look like an olive) and specially prepared dog treats at afternoon tea. Dog owners – about a third of all guests – are issued dog beds, blankets and water bowls at check-in. The hotel has even installed a dog-themed brand of toilet in its rooms: Toto. Details:, (800) 443-7443. Rooms start at $188, including breakfast. Pet fee, $30 per night.

Not quite what you had in mind? Carmel has 24 other dog-friendly hotels in all price ranges.

Eat: I was casually scanning the menu at the Forge in the Forest – the 8-ounce New York steak was tempting – when I noticed the words at the top: Canine Cuisine. The human menu was just as appealing, though, and I can attest that the odd-sounding Reuben egg rolls were improbably tasty.

Forge in the Forest is regularly voted the best dog-friendly restaurant in Monterey County, and it’s easy to see why. It has transformed its enclosed Oak Tree Patio into the 14-table Dog Pound, with its own entrance, shade in the summer and heat lamps in the winter. Canine guests are immediately brought a water bowl, sometimes even before their human companions get their water glasses filled. Located at Junipero and Fifth in Carmel., (831) 624-2233. Dinner and lunch entrees (for humans), $7.50 to $36.

More choices? Carmel boasts 24 restaurants where you can dine with your dog on outside patios and terraces.

Play: At the end of Ocean Avenue is the finest dog beach in Northern California. Wedged between Point Lobos and Pebble Beach – you’re just a few feet from the 10th fairway – its white sand is so sugary it squeaks beneath your feet. It’s shaded by cypress trees and lapped by aquamarine surf, and it’s all off leash. Users are conscientious about cleaning up, and you should follow their lead.

If it’s cool and foggy at the beach, as it often is on summer mornings, head inland to the Carmel Valley and 4,462-acre Garland Ranch Regional Park, where your dog can hike off-leash on trails through the oak-studded foothills of the Santa Lucia Mountains. Some trails even sport doggie drinking fountains.

He has other great locations and it is a excellent resource for things to do with your dog in Sunny California. Happy travels

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