If you could afford to live like a high-tech millionaire, you'd have lots of company in Los Gatos. It's a nice place to visit regardless, and 270-acre St. Joseph's Hill Open Space Preserve above the attractive town center is a destination well worth the huffer-puffer hike from Novitiate Park at the end of Jones Road.
Both the Los Gatos Creek and Jones/Flume trails lead to Lexington Reservoir, where you and Fido can soak your paws during a well deserved break. On the way down, make a detour and allow yourself to be waylaid at Testarossa , the Bay Area's oldest continuously operating winery, founded by Jesuit fathers and brothers in 1888. The tasting room, open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, includes a deli where you can pick up some cheese and crackers to enjoy with your wine on the dog-friendly patio out back. A bit of trivia to digest along with your Brosseau Vineyard Pinot Noir and aged cheddar: Los Gatos, which means "the cats" in Spanish, takes its name from the mountain lions that even today are occasionally glimpsed prowling in the surrounding hills.
Hikes in the hills are one thing, but sometimes urban people- and dog-watching is the best entertainment of all. At Santana Row, San Jose's wildly successful, Mediterranean-style shopping and entertainment district, the see-and-be-seen scene extends to the world of fashionista canines. Plop down at any of 25 dog-friendly sidewalk cafés (patio heaters run full blast in winter) and watch the parade: you're likely to spot everything from pugs in hand-knit sweaters to six-foot blondes with legs up to here walking Afghan hounds with hair as silky as their own.
There's always a limo pulling up or a Lamborghini parked outside the Hotel Valencia, best place in town for celebrity-spotting (if one of very few places on the Row that doesn't allow dogs). Look for "paws welcome here" stickers in shop windows to identify the Row's dozens of pet-friendly stores and restaurants. And don't forget to download the free Santana Row iPhone app to learn about deals like Rainy Day Rewards, good through March for 15 percent off shopping and dining on drippy days.
Santa Clara County is blessed with tens of thousands of acres of paw-friendly parklands. This being the Silicon Valley, many online resources are available to help guide you to and through K9 territory. Check out the 25 county parks available to dog walkers with some restrictions, then pick your path within the Midpeninsula Open Space District, whose 90,000 acres hold many options, both on and off-leash, for those of us visiting with our furry friends. When it comes to fenced dog parks where you can let Rover romp without making a big exercise commitment yourself, you're in luck again. Among our picks of the litter: Los Gatos Creek County Dog Park in Campbell, Mitchell Park in Palo Alto, the City of Milpitas Dog Park at Ed Levin County Park, Las Palmas Park in Sunnyvale and Hellyer Dog Park in south San Jose. Unclip, unwind and relax; your dog will thank you for it.