Our loyal lab, Trooper, always insisted on traveling with us on our family vacations. As soon as he saw luggage by the front door, he made sure he was getting in the car with us. We loved traveling with him. After all, he was part of our family. Barring a few trips like cruises, he was able to accompany us to many beautiful, dog-friendly places in California.
Traveling with dogs is fun, but it’s important to be prepared. Dogs should have a current license and up-to-date vaccinations. In many public places dogs are expected to respond to voice command and to be within your sight. Many dog-friendly hotels charge a fee and/or have restrictions on size and weight. They may also provide dog treats, dog beds and other amenities.
This list of dog-friendly vacation spots in California is sure to get a wag from your pup.
Located in Monterey County, Carmel may be the most dog-friendly city in California. Dogs can romp at the beach, hike on trails and play in parks. Numerous hotels, shops and restaurants welcome dogs with water bowls, dog treats and biodegradable bags. Doggy turn downs, surf lessons and yappy hour are the norm. So are massages at the Signature Paw Spa doggy day care. Meal times area a family affair at dog-friendly restaurants, such as The Forge in the Forest. Carmel has over 25 dog-friendly hotels. Some, like Carmel Garden Inn, provide beds and treats. Others, like Hofsas House Hotel, offer some pet-friendly rooms.
This upscale city rolls out the welcome mat for dogs in restaurants, beaches and even some breweries. Leashed dogs are allowed on the state’s oldest working wharf. For off leash play, take a romp to Arroyo Burro Beach Park (aka Hendry’s Beach) where dogs run free and play in the surf. There’s also a coin-operated dog wash in the parking lot. Have lunch with your dog at the family-friendly Brewhouse Restaurant, which has a great Brew-Dogs Menu. Enjoy a craft beer while your pup slurps up cold water provided by servers.
The Fess Parker DoubleTree by Hilton Resort welcomes two pets of any size for an additional fee of $40 per night. Upon check-in, the front desk provides complimentary doggy treats and bags.
Dogs of all breeds and sizes get the royal treatment on a dog-friendly vacation in LA. Pamper pooch with a signature Swedish massage at Bliss Paws, founded by a certified canine massage therapist. Run free at Runyon Canyon Park or hike in Griffith Park. Fred 62 and Messhall Kitchen are among 200 dog-friendly LA restaurants. Bunk down in swanky Beverly Hills. The Kimpton Hotel Palomar welcomes pets of any size for no additional fee.
Known as Surf City USA, this Orange County beach town is super dog friendly. Dogs can romp unleashed and doggy paddle under the surf at the mile-long Dog Beach. They can even take a surf lesson at the nearby pier. Contact Huntington Surf School who works with local surf schools to prepare dogs for surf event competitions. Mealtimes are a treat. Start the day at Sit Stay Café and linger over lunch at Park Bench Café. During Doggie Date Nights Monday evenings at Fred’s Mexican Café, dogs get a free meal with the purchase of a paid entrée.
After a day of play, the Kimpton Shorebreak Hotel welcomes your dog with dog treats and a bed. No pet fee.
Active families and dogs will find plenty of outdoor fun in Mammoth. Indulge your dog’s senses on forest trails. In summer, dogs ride free on the gondola to the summit of Mammoth Mountain. Leashed dogs are permitted inside the interpretive center and cafe at the top. Winter snow brings more outdoor activities. Throw a snowball and explore the forest on cross-country skis or snowshoes with your furry pal by your side.
Dog-friendly shops and restaurants in town include Tailwaggers, a gourmet bakery and boutique. There’s no need to rough it because you’re in the mountains. Dogs of all sizes are allowed at Mammoth Mountain Chalets surrounded by forest.
Just around the corner from Mammoth, June Lake is a small mountain town with four alpine lakes. Enjoy boating, hiking and wildlife viewing with your furry pal. Have your camera ready for the moment your dog meets his first deer. A good home-base is the Double Eagle Resort and Spa. The dog-friendly cabins with full kitchens are situated near a stream.
Big Bear Lake
For an easy weekend getaway in southern California, consider Big Bear Lake. Nestled in the San Bernardino National Forest, Big Bear is about a two-hour drive from nearly anywhere in southern California. Lake activities to enjoy with your dog include standup paddling and riding on a covered pontoon. Just make sure your pup doesn’t jump overboard to swim after ducks! Back on land, explore forest trails. Smell wildflowers in spring and go snowshoeing in winter. When it’s time to chow down, head to Nottingham’s Tavern, one of many dog-friendly eateries. There’s a seasonal dog-friendly outdoor patio open May thru October.
Wind down the day sleeping under the stars at Serrano Campground. Big Bear also has many pet-friendly hotels, cabins and vacation homes. www.bigbear.com.
It’s a dog’s world in San Diego. The city boasts hundreds of hotels and restaurants that welcome canines. And with 45 dog-friendly activities, no-one will be bored. The Original Dog Beach is especially popular with canines of all sizes. Dogs can run around unleashed to enjoy the sand and surf. Another canine hotspot is Fiesta Island Off Leash Dog Park in Mission Bay. Dogs can romp on sandy dunes and take a dip in the bay. Less active dogs may prefer Seaport Village, a 14-acre waterfront shopping, dining and entertainment complex. If you’re spending the night, the Ocean Villa Inn accepts two pets of any size for a fee.