A mere five minutes from Little River, much-photographed Mendocino Village, with its wealth of lacy Victorians and colorful saltbox cottages, is loaded with places to enjoy with your four-legged friend. Our top pick is Stanford Inn by the Sea
, just south of the village across Big River. Once you’ve explored the compact downtown, get your tails over to Mendocino Headlands State Park
, which surrounds the town on three sides.
What’s not to like about the gorgeous Mendocino coast? Absolutely nothing, of course! And with a River Dog package
at the Little River Inn Resort & Spa
, perched on a bluff overlooking the Pacific, you’ll enjoy a two-night stay in a pet-friendly guest room, a three-hour river excursion in an ultra-stable outrigger canoe, a goodie bag with dog treats and info on where to hike and boat with dogs—plus a $100 dinner voucher good for dining in the hotel’s dog-friendly parlor
(if the pinenut-crusted salmon is on the menu, give it a go), in-room or in the dining room (dogs have to wait outside).
is named for that big puddle of blue on the map, and there’s lots to wag tails about on its shores. But Clear Lake is hardly the only body of water in the vicinity. Blue Lakes (Upper and Lower), just five miles away, are a pair of clear, spring-fed bodies of water ideal for swimming and fishing. Only human-powered craft and electric motors are allowed (speed limit is 5 mph), but you can rent an electric “yacht” or pontoon boat from the Lodge at Blue Lakes
and pile the kids and dogs on board for a great day of cruising about.
Many say that coastal Mendocino County
is not so much a place as a state of mind. And for DogTrekkers, full immersion wouldn’t be complete without a dog-friendly paddle excursion along the serene Big River estuary. Catch A Canoe & Bicycles Too
, which shares ground with the extremely dog-friendly Stanford Inn by the Sea
, has been putting paddlers on the 8.3-mile estuary since 1972. A decade or so ago, it introduced Canine Cruisers to its fleet of handmade redwood outrigger canoes. The dog-friendly craft feature a raised, padded deck centered in the middle of the canoe between paddler positions in bow and stern.
Nine miles. Four-plus hours of water time. Countless tail wags, big smiles. A float/paddle on a secluded section of the Russian River is a DogTrekker must-do for visitors to Sonoma County. With your water-loving dog on board in a custom-made SOAR inflatable canoe from Russian River Adventures
, you’ll explore a secluded section of the waterway downstream from Healdsburg and linger at swimming holes and beaches, picnicking, playing fetch and wishing the adventure would never end. If DogTrekkers act fast, the usual $10 dog fee will be waved mid-week through the end of June (use code DOG10TREK19 when booking reservations
, a happy, playful Lab/pit mix guy who, like lots of other dogs, lost his home due to the Camp Fire. Luckily for him he landed with the good folks at Butte Humane Society
in Chico, where he's waiting for his new folks to come find him.
Whether your drive all or just some of intoxicating Highway 1 hugging the Mendocino County coast, you’re sure to find many places to pull over and get some sand between your and Buster’s toes. Go slow, stop often and be sure to check out these highlights.
Noyo Beach, Mendocino County
. Legal places to romp off-leash with your dog are few and far between on Mendocino County’s gorgeous coastline, but one place you can unclip and let your pup run free is Noyo Beach Off-Leash Dog Area in Fort Bragg.
Last winter’s heavy rains were not kind
to California’s 90-mile Big Sur Coast
, most of which is in Monterey County
. First the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge on Highway 1 washed out, cutting off access to all but foot or helicopter traffic south of Big Sur Station. Then one of the largest landslides in California history reshaped the southern portion of the coastline by dumping a mountain of debris 600 feet into the Pacific. The good news is that on Oct. 13, the rebuilt Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge opened 35 miles of coastline that had been cut off for eight months.
You’re sure to have a Beach Boys sound track playing in your head as you and your pup cavort on aptly named Dog Beach
, the leash-free segment of 3.5-mile-long Huntington Beach, centerpiece of the city of the same name (also known as Surf City USA). Surf culture rules in this SoCal mecca for more than 8 million annual visitors—and sometimes, especially during the annual Surf City Surf Dog
competition (Sept. 24 this year), it seems like there are that many dogs, too!
You’re never far from the water when following the Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 1) through Santa Cruz County
. The curvy coastline is studded with 29 miles of beaches providing lots of options for DogTrekkers. Fifteen strands are dog-friendly, and one, Mitchell’s Cove
, is legally leash-free during daylight hours before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m.
You’ll forget all about work, worries and traffic woes once you get within sight and sound of the sea. And in Sonoma County
, there are dozens of places where you and your pup can splash to your hearts’ content and then bed down to the ceaseless whooshing of the restless Pacific.