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When exploring the beautiful beaches, charming mountain towns, and lush forests of California, the only thing that can make your adventure better is having your best buddy beside you. Fido may be welcome in most places, but some destinations are more dog-friendly than others. So, it is essential to choose a dog-friendly locale when planning a vacation with your pet; that way, you can rest assured there’ll be plenty of dog-friendly beaches, hotels, hiking trails, and parks in your final destination.
There are many places within the great state of California where you can take your dog on an exciting trip. Get ready to pack your swimsuit and a couple of dog raincoats—just in case—before hitting the road and heading to these top dog-friendly destinations.
Spend a weekend in Sausalito, a dreamy hamlet across the San Francisco Bay that offers exciting activities for you and your pup. Aside from numerous pet-friendly restaurants and kennel clubs, there are also tons of things to do in town. Sausalito offers great hikes, spectacular views, fantastic food, beach walks, wine tastings, and shopping sprees—all of which you can enjoy with your favorite four-legged companion. You can start with some sightseeing during an expedition through the Marin Headlands. From there on, you can trek down to Rodeo Beach and take a coastal hike or play Frisbee on the sandy shores with your pup.
Have you ever heard of dog surfing? Well, you can enjoy all of that and much more when visiting Huntington Beach. This town is one of the best dog beaches, featuring a mile-long sandy stretch that’s bound to tempt you and your pooch. So, soak up the sun, go for a quick run, take a dip in the refreshing waters, and of course, surf the epic SoCal waves.
About that surfing now—yes, Huntington Beach offers an exclusive dog surfing competition at the end of the summer season. The annual event also includes a fashion show, costume contest, and “Yappy Hour.” If your dog doesn't know how to surf, don’t worry, as the beach organizes private dog surfing lessons from July to September.
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You likely already know that the town of Healdsburg is a coveted Wine Country destination famed for its world-class eateries, art galleries, and charming boutiques. There are also multiple kennel clubs and pup-friendly restaurants and patios to serve up some quality local treats. When visiting, make sure to stop by Mutt Lynch Winery, which has been bestowed with some of the most prestigious accolades and national and international awards for being a dog-friendly winery. Also consider the motto: “Bark less, wag more.”
As they let you sniff around, owners Brenda and Chris Lynch—plus their mutt, Patch—are more than gracious to accommodate you and will even throw in a few treats for your dog, too, as you chat and taste. You should check the website for special events such as “Yappy Hour” and “Dog-A-Palooza.” The winery is even happy to cater to your pooch’s next birthday, puppy shower, or “Bark-Mitzvah.”
Mammoth Lakes is a prime destination year-round, especially if you’re a dog owner. With tons of pet-friendly cafes, patios, restaurants, and hotels, Mammoth Lakes is the perfect weekend getaway in every sense of the word. If you visit in the summer months, dogs are allowed to ride freely on public transit; this includes the local public buses, shuttles to Reds Meadow, and gondola to the Mammoth Mountain summit. There are numerous trails where you can let your pup roam alongside you as well. For an epic adventure, take Fido on the John Muir Trail, where dogs are allowed off-leash.
Mendocino is one of the most incredible locales for dog-friendly vacations. At Stanford Inn By The Sea, a plate of cookies and a welcome package—consisting of a sweet potato treat, water and food dishes, a stack of dog-waste bags, and two fresh sheets—await you and your dog. An estimated 60 percent of American households have dogs, and most cities and hotels hoping to cash in on this are turning pet-friendly. But the Stanford Inn has welcomed four-legged guests since the early 1980s when Jeff and Joan Stanford bought the property shortly after moving from the Midwest.
The coastal town of Mendocino offers numerous dog-friendly activities, too. Canines can go almost anywhere where people can go. Many local parks, restaurants, and businesses go past just allowing dogs; they welcome them and accommodate their canine quirks, too. This is why your best friend can accompany you on any adventure, including kayaking and canoeing.
No matter where you decide to travel with your pup, make sure you consult with your vet first. A long, arduous journey in the car may be uncomfortable for your dog. Dogs can also just as quickly be car sick as humans, so your dog must be well-rested and adequately checked to avoid any mishaps while traveling.
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