Ready to hit the road with Rover? Well, look no further than California, where dog-friendly vacations abound. From charming coastal cities like Carmel-by-the-Sea and Half Moon Bay to bustling metropolises like San Francisco and Los Angeles, the Golden State is a paradise for you and your pooch.
Whether you’re looking for a leisurely stroll with your pooch along a pristine beach, or a hike in the mountains with your hound, or you seek the tranquility of a seaside retreat with Rover, California caters to both you and your canine. And, don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten our fellow, dog-loving oenophiles! California is also home to many pet friendly accommodations and countless wineries that welcome you and your canine. But, let’s start with California’s most dog friendly cities.
California’s Mutt-Friendly Metropolises
From the bustling neighborhoods of San Francisco to the sunny shores of San Diego, there’s no shortage of places for you and Fido to explore in these dog-friendly California destinations.
When visiting one of California’s most dog friendly cities, San Francisco, with your four-legged friend, you’ll be happy to know that there are over 50 dog-friendly restaurants and pubs throughout the city, with outdoor seating areas. Pop in for a delicious popover with your pooch at Wayfare Tavern, a San Francisco hot spot. Or, explore SPARK Social SF. a food truck park located in the heart of Mission Bay.
For more dog-friendly restaurants in San Francisco, click here.
With tummies full, head to Golden Gate Park, a must-visit with 1,000 acres of beautiful gardens, walking trails, and even a designated off-leash area. Be sure to check out some of the park’s popular attractions like the Japanese Tea Garden and the California Academy of Sciences, both of which are dog-friendly.
You can also take a leisurely stroll through the vibrant Haight-Ashbury neighborhood or visit the Mission District to admire its stunning street art.
For more places pawesome places to walk your dog in San Francisco, click here.
For outdoor enthusiasts, Baker Beach provides breathtaking views of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge and allows dogs to roam off leash on-leash in certain areas. When it’s time to rest, there are plenty of pet friendly places to crash with your canine – from luxury, boutique hotels to more budget-friendly accommodations. We recommend Staypineapple: A Dog-Friendly Hotel in the Heart of Union Square.
From dog parks and beaches to hiking trails and outdoor dining spots, there’s something for every pup. Additionally, Los Angeles is known for its pet-friendly hotels, with many offering pet-sitting services, treats, and even beds for your beloved companion.
If you’re looking for a unique experience, consider taking a ride on the trolley at The Grove in the Fairfax District, conveniently located next to The Original Farmers Market. This upscale outdoor shopping destination welcomes dogs and provides a fun and pet-friendly atmosphere for you and Fido.
From dedicated dog beaches, to countless canine-friendly breweries and pubs, San Diego is one of California’s dog friendliest cities. It’s home to several dog-friendly beaches where your pup can frolic off-leash in the sand and surf. And, there is no shortage of hotels that welcome both you and your four-legged friend. If you want to go a little fancy, we recommend the historic Hotel del Coronado.
If your dog loves the beach, then a must-visit is the aptly-named Original Dog Beach. Located in Ocean Beach, this sand and surf is specifically designated for dogs, so you can let your furry friend off leash to dip his paws in the Pacific Ocean.
Want more? Here are Five Dog-friendly SoCal Activities We Think You Will Love.
Local poet Don Blanding once wrote, “In Carmel-by-the-Sea, it is an unwritten law that no one shall have less than one dog.” Indeed, this charming seaside town is consistently rated as one of the world’s best cities for dogs and their owners. The town acquired dog-capital status as early as 1906, when artists and other bohemians living in quake-shaken San Francisco fled here. As a creative haven perched on the edge of the wild Pacific, the town let people be people, and dogs be dogs.
One particular place where dogs can be dogs is Carmel Beach, where they can frolic off leash — you know it’s dog friendly when there are Mutt Mitts provided in dispensers at the top of every stair access to the beach. You and Fido can also snuggle up to a cozy beach fire, another unique feature of Carmel Beach. Afterward, treat yourselves to a scrumptious meal at one of the many dog-friendly restaurants that line the streets — from cozy cafes to elegant bistros, there’s something to satisfy every palate.
If your plan is stay overnight, we recommend the Doris Day-owned Cypress Inn, where pups get their own blanket and famous doggy-biscuit turndown service.
Located just 90 miles north of Los Angeles, but a world away, Santa Barbara offers the guaranteed sunshine (300 days a year) and warm water temperatures Southern California is famous for, but with only 88,000 residents it has the charm and personality of a north coast town.
When it comes to pet friendly accommodations, you’ll find plenty of pooch-friendly options. From luxurious resorts like Leta Santa Barbara Goleta, Tapestry Collection by Hilton and Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort to charming boutique hotels, there’s something for every pup and their person.
Santa Barbara wine country boasts more than 80 wineries and 24,000 acres of vines and is the fastest-growing viticultural region in the nation. The Santa Ynez, Santa Maria and Santa Rita Hills are known for their cool-climate varietals. Many of the area’s tasting rooms welcome pets and their companions. Whether you stop for a taste, a picnic or a weekend stay, be sure to visit before you go!
Finally, a visit to Santa Barbara would not be complete without a trip to the beach. Whether it’s Arroyo Burro Beach, Hendry’s Beach, or Butterfly Beach — these are just a few of the dog-friendly beaches where Rover can romp off-leash in the sun and surf.
Cali’s Canine-Friendly Coastal Towns
Speaking of surf, California is home to dog-friendly coastal towns: like Half Moon Bay, known for its stunning beaches. If you’re looking for a charming coastal getaway, Mendocino offers cliffside trails and dog-friendly beaches, the perfect combination for dog friendly vacations in California.
Nestled along the picturesque coastline, Laguna Beach beckons dog owners with its vibrant art scene and a plethora of pooch-friendly places to sit, stay and play. Start your day with a visit to the Laguna Beach Dog Park, where your pup can roam freely on two acres of open space.
Afterwards, take a leisurely stroll down Forest Avenue and explore Art for the Soul, showcasing exclusive dog-themed paintings by resident artist Debra Carman. Treat your four-legged companion to some healthy and gluten-free goodies at Naked Dog Bistro, just a short walk away. End the day at The Cliff Restaurant, where you can savor delicious cuisine while enjoying breathtaking ocean views. For pet friendly accommodations, Casa Laguna Hotel & Spa offers pet friendly rooms with spacious and secure patios.
Half Moon Bay
Half Moon Bay is a favorite among nature lovers and dog lovers alike, with easy access to sandy beaches, redwood forests, and open spaces. The region is one of the largest beach areas in the San Francisco Bay area, with tons of outdoor activities for you and Fido including hiking, biking, surfing, kayaking, paddleboarding, tide-pooling, strolling the beaches, and exploring mountain trails.
Don’t miss out on visiting some of the area’s top attractions, like Redondo Beach or downtown Half Moon Bay’s art galleries, boutiques and cafes. Whether you’re hiking, dining out, or simply strolling along the beach with Bowser, Half Moon Bay promises a memorable adventure for you and your pooch.
Now that you’ve explored the dog-friendly wonders of downtown Half Moon Bay, it’s time to venture further up the stunning California coast to the charming town of Mendocino. Known for its picturesque coastal views and proximity to the majestic Redwoods, Mendocino is a paradise for both you and your pup.
With a range of pet friendly accommodations, from cozy inns to beachfront hotels, finding the perfect place to stay is a breeze. You can spend your days exploring the many dog-friendly hiking trails in state parks like Russian Gulch or Van Damme State Park, immersing yourself in nature’s beauty. Visit the dog-friendly Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, with 47 acres and four miles of trails to explore.
And when it’s time to refuel, there are plenty of pet friendly restaurants where you can enjoy a delicious meal together. Don’t forget to visit some of Mendocino County’s renowned dog-friendly wineries (see more below), whether along the coast or inland.
Outward Hound: Dog-Friendly Outdoor Adventures
Looking for some outdoor adventure with your best friend? Look no further than the dog-friendly destinations of Lake Tahoe, Redwoods, Joshua Tree, Point Reyes National Seashore, and Shasta-Trinity National Forest. Whether you’re hiking through towering trees or exploring vast desert landscapes, these locations offer plenty of opportunities for you and your pup to enjoy the great outdoors.
Experience the breathtaking beauty of Lake Tahoe, where your doggo can enjoy swimming, hiking, and endless adventures by your side. Explore the numerous dog-friendly hiking trails that wind through the stunning landscapes of this picturesque region. From easy strolls to challenging treks, there’s a trail for every level of hiker and their canine companion.
Take a dip in the crystal-clear waters of Kiva Beach or Zephyr Cove, where dogs are welcome to swim off-leash. After a day of outdoor exploration, relax at one of the many dog-friendly lodging options available in the area. Dine at pet friendly restaurants that offer patio seating and delicious meals for both you and your pup. Don’t forget to visit the dog friendly parks scattered throughout Lake Tahoe, where you can play fetch or simply bask in nature’s tranquility together.
The Redwood National and State Parks offer a variety of dog-friendly hiking trails that allow you to experience the magnificence of these ancient trees up close. Rangers’ tip: If you want to walk through old-growth redwoods with your pooch (leashed dogs only), then try Cal Barrel Road at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park or Walker Road at Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park.
Bowser can even become an official BARK! Ranger! Stop by one of the park’s visitor centers to learn about some of the best places to walk with your dog through the redwoods, then say the BARK! Ranger pledge, and receive your stamped BARK! Ranger certificate. BARK! Rangers can also purchase an exclusive Redwood BARK! Ranger dog collar tag from one the Redwood Parks Conservancy bookstores!
Point Reyes National Seashore
Unleash your inner explorer and embark on a tail-wagging adventure through the breathtaking coastal beauty of Point Reyes National Seashore, where furry companions are welcome on designated sections of beaches and trails. Lace up your hiking boots and explore the dog-friendly hiking trails that wind through pristine forests and offer stunning views of the coastline.
Mutt-Friendly Mountain Escapes
Looking for a dog-friendly mountain escape in California? Then, look no further than Big Bear Lake, Mammoth Lakes, Idyllwild and Mount Shasta. The pet friendly destinations all offer breathtaking scenery and plenty of dog-friendly adventures.
Big Bear Lake
Just two hours from Los Angeles, the San Bernardino Mountains offer a cool, pine-scented escape. At an altitude of 6,759 feet, Big Bear Lake is a hub for alpine recreation, whether it’s skiing the nearby slopes in the winter or hiking (and boating, paddle boarding and swimming) in the summer, Big Bear serves as a year-round Southern California escape.
If you want a truly unique, pooch-friendly place to stay, we recommend Midnight Moon Cabins.
Located in the Eastern Sierra region of the state, Mammoth Lakes is best known for its stunning natural beauty featuring majestic mountain ranges, crystal-clear lakes, and expansive forests. For those reasons, it’s a pupular… er, popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts.
Best of all, Mammoth Lakes has a dog park called Shady Rest Park. It’s a great place for your pooch to run and play with other pups. Of course, there are also hiking trails in the Mammoth Lakes area that are dog-friendly. Some popular options include the Sherwin Lakes Trail and the Mammoth Crest Trail.
And, many of the lakes and streams in the area allow dogs, so you can bring your furry friend along for a day of fishing or simply enjoy a lakeside picnic or swim at Horseshoe Lake or Convict Lake.
Idyllwild is a nature- and dog-lover’s oasis located in the San Jacinto Mountains above Palm Springs. At a mile high, you can enjoy an alpine forest and explore dog-friendly trails such as the Ernie Maxwell Scenic Trail or the Strawberry Creek Trail.
Be sure to visit Living Free Animal Sanctuary, a nonprofit, no-kill animal sanctuary. Situated on 155 acres near Idyllwild, it’s home to their kennel-in-the-round, Give Life Park, catteries and protected open-air “catios,” breathtaking scenery, and wide open fields where wild mustangs and rescued burros run free.
California’s Best Dog-Friendly Beaches
We talked about coastal California getaways above, but we also want to point out specific beaches dedicated to dogs, from super fun Huntington Dog Beach, to the cool and unique Coronado Dog Beach, to the scenic Del Mar Dog Beach, and the charming Arroyo Burro Beach (Hendry’s Beach). It doesn’t get much better than these dog friendly parks.
Huntington Dog Beach
Located in Huntington Beach, a sandy paradise for canines and their owners, Huntington Dog Beach offers endless opportunities for fun and adventure. Dogs can enjoy frolicking in the waves, playing fetch on the shore, or simply basking in the sun alongside their human companions.
Location: 100 Goldenwest Street, Huntington Beach | View Map
Coronado Dog Beach
About a 15 minute drive from sunny San Diego, Coronado Dog Beach offers leash-free romps year-round and as far as scenery goes, it doesn’t get much better. To the right is the Point Loma headland, to the left is the iconic Hotel del Coronado and all around are dogs having the time of their life!
Location: 100 Ocean Boulevard, Coronado | View Map
For more dog-friendly beaches near San Diego, click here.
Del Mar Dog Beach
The beach in Del Mar is one of the most beautiful beaches in southern California, with two plus miles of sandy beach to relax, walk or run. North Beach, affectionately called “Dog Beach” by dog owners stretches nearly one half mile to Solana Beach.
Location: 3200 Camino Del Mar, Del Mar | View Map
Arroyao Burro Beach (Hendry’s Beach)
Discover the incredible dog-friendly paradise of Arroyo Burro Beach (Hendry’s Beach) in Santa Barbara (more about Santa Barbara above), where you and your furry companion can enjoy endless adventures by the sea, where it’s truly a haven for dogs and dog lovers alike.
Location: 2981 Cliff Dr, Santa Barbara | View Map
California Wine Country Retreats
California’s Napa Valley, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley, Temecula and Mendocino County are the perfect destinations for dog lovers and oenophiles alike. And, they are some of California’s most dog friendly vacation spots. In fact, we could write full feature articles on all of them (which we will), showcasing all that is dog friendly (which is a lot). However for today, here’s a summary on dog friendly activities and attractions in each to get you started on your wine tasting adventures with Fido!
Immerse yourself in the enchanting vineyards of Napa Valley and let your furry companion join you on an unforgettable wine-tasting adventure. Napa Valley offers a plethora of pooch-friendly wineries where you can sip delicious wines while your doggo relaxes by your side. Some notable dog-friendly wineries include Tamber Bey Vineyards, Napa Cellars, Pine Ridge Vineyards and Migration.
After a day of exploring, rest at one of the many pet-friendly lodging options available, ensuring both you and your canine have a comfortable stay. Napa Valley boasts several pet-friendly hotels that welcome furry guests. Some options to consider include The Meritage Resort and Spa, The Westin Verasa Napa, and the Napa River Inn.
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to take scenic vineyard hikes together, taking in breathtaking views while enjoying quality time with your four-legged friend. Napa Valley offers beautiful trails that you can explore with your dog, such as the Oat Hill Mine Trail and the Skyline Wilderness Park.
Sonoma County is known for its dog-friendly wineries where you can enjoy wine tasting with your furry friend. Most notably are Francis Ford Coppola Winery. This winery in Geyserville welcomes well behaved dogs on their outdoor patio and grounds. They even have a dog park where your furry friend can run and play.
Another favorite is the aptly-named Mutt Lynch Winery. Located in Windsor, Mutt Lynch Winery is a dog-centric winery that offers a range of dog-themed wines. Dogs are welcome both indoors and outdoors.
Also, be sure to check out Kokomo Winery: Situated in one of our favorite dog friendly towns, Healdsburg, Kokomo Winery welcomes dogs both indoors and outdoors. And, last but not least, Larson Family Winery offers a dog-friendly tasting room and picnic area. They even have a dog park and walking trails for you and your pup to explore.
Spanning more than 33,000 acres – the largest viticultural area in Southern California – Temecula Valley Wine Country is one of the state’s best-kept secrets and has rightfully earned its reputation as a vibrant wine destination. Better yet, it’s also a dog-friendly destination. Combining the two, you’ll find a variety of dog-friendly wineries including Bailey Vineyard and Winery. This charming winery is the perfect place to sip on delicious wines with your pooch.
Also, check out Carter Estate Winery and Resort, where pets are considered family. Not only is your dog welcome at the winery, but the resort is dog friendly, too. So dog friendly that your pooch will receive a swag bag full of goodies at check-in plus there’s plenty of room for Rover to roam with relief stations placed throughout the property. Pretty cool, right?
There are two major wine producing areas in Mendocino County and both are super canine-friendly: Anderson Valley, known for its world famous pinot noirs, and the Highway 101 Corridor, which produces numerous varietals. We were hard pressed to find a winery that isn’t dog friendly, whether dogs are allowed in the tasting rooms or outdoor decks and patios only. A few even have resident canine greeters such as Foursight Wines, who invite visitors to come meet Sasha, their puppy-in-training, and “enjoy estate-grown Pinot Noir while the pets play!”
We are also happy to see that one of our favorite Fido-friendly places to stay is still going strong in nearby Boonville: Sheep Dung Properties.
Read more about our visit to Sheep Dung here.
about the author
Brandie Ahlgren is founder and editor of CityDog Magazine. She, and her team of dog-loving editors, dig up the best places for you to sit, stay and play with your four-legged friends. Brandie, 12-year-old boxer Thya and Mexican foster failure Pancho, reside in West Seattle and can often be found hanging out at Westcrest Dog Park.