It’s just 17 miles along scenic Highway 1 from the coastal village of Albion to the more muscular city of Fort Bragg, but considering how much lies in between, you could take an entire, leisurely week to go the distance.
In Little River, just north of Albion, the charming Little River Inn welcomes four-legged family members as well as their uprights, offering bed, breakfast and majestic views of the sea. The outside dining area is fur-friendly, and there’s a private path to the beach. The nearby Inn at Schoolhouse Creek and Andiron Seaside Inn & Cabins are popular choices for DogTrekkers who prefer the privacy offered by individual cottages.
What to do once you’re here? Little River makes a great jumping-off point for wine-tasting along twisty Highway 128, or for walks along coastal bluffs. Dog-friendly Van Damme State Beach is nearby, but while canines are allowed to accompany their people on the sand, they’re not allowed on trails within this gorgeous state park.
Moving north, picturesque Mendocino village, with its wealth of lacy Victorians and colorful saltbox cottages, has more places than you can shake a tennis ball at to enjoy with your four-legged friend. Once you’ve explored downtown, venture just outside the city limits to Mendocino Headlands State Park, which surrounds the village on three sides. There are lots of options here, but at the top of the list is hiking on a gorgeous, bluff-top trail to moody Big River State Beach. Or, wander the trails and grounds surrounding the landmark Point Cabrillo Light Station, dating to 1909 and occupying a magnificent location on a rugged headland jutting into the Pacific. The lighthouse’s West Cottage, a stand-alone, one-bedroom unit, is pet-friendly and offers an overnight experience dominated by the pulse of thundering surf.
As is the case everywhere in California, dog-friendly dining in Mendocino is by law confined to patios, decks, and other outdoor spaces. But there’s one notable exception. At Ravens’, the organic vegan restaurant at canine-welcoming Stanford Inn by the Sea, guests with dogs are served at tables in the lobby—a real plus on foggy or rainy days. If you’re a “where’s the beef?” kind of person, the place to go is Mendocino Cafe, where the menu leans to sustainably caught seafood and organically raised chicken and beef.