California dreamin’ with your dog: The top 11 pet-friendly vacation destinations

By: Roger Coryell
California Dog

Marin County

Located just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, Marin County is packed with dog-friendly parks, beaches, and hiking trails. Check out popular spots like Muir Beach, Rodeo Beach, and the Marin Headlands. You’ll find pet-friendly accommodations, such as a boutique resort on Tomales Bay, offering fun activities for you and your pet. Don’t miss the waterfall hike north of Mount Tamalpais for a serene experience with your dog.

Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz is perfect for dog lovers, with dog-friendly beaches like Mitchell’s Cove Beach and Its Beach. Stay at a range of pet-friendly accommodations from budget hotels to luxurious resorts and B&B inns. Explore dog-friendly hiking trails like Wilder Ranch State Park and Nisene Marks State Park. Enjoy a meal with your pet on the patio at local restaurants like Seabright Brewery.

Big Sur

Big Sur is a haven for pet owners, offering pet-friendly parks, restaurants, and hiking trails. Visit dog-friendly hiking spots like the Cruickshank Trail and the Pine Ridge Trail to Sykes Hot Springs. Pfeiffer Beach is another great spot where leashed dogs can enjoy the sand and surf. Stay at Ventana Big Sur, a luxury resort that allows up to two dogs per room and provides plush beds and water bowls for pets.

San Diego

Famous for its sunny weather and beautiful beaches, San Diego is ideal for dog-friendly vacations. Visit popular dog beaches like Ocean Beach Dog Beach, Fiesta Island, and Coronado Dog Beach. Explore dog-friendly parks like Balboa Park and Cabrillo National Monument. Stay at one of the many pet-friendly hotels and vacation rentals. Check out pet-friendly restaurants and cafes in the area, like The Patio on Lamont.

Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara has plenty of activities for you and your pet, including dog-friendly beaches, parks, trails, and dining options. Visit Arroyo Burro Beach, also known as Hendry’s Beach, where dogs can roam off-leash. Stay at Camp Canine, a pet resort and spa that offers day camp, training, and grooming services. Enjoy pet-friendly dining options like the Brewhouse and the Boathouse at Hendry’s Beach.

Death Valley

Though Death Valley National Park has some restrictions on pets, it offers various campgrounds, picnic areas, and backcountry roads where dogs are welcome. Visit from mid-October to mid-May, with spring being the most ideal season. Stay at pet-friendly accommodations like Panamint Springs Resort and Stovepipe Wells Village Hotel. Remember to follow the park’s rules and regulations regarding pets for a safe and enjoyable visit.

Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe is popular for dog-friendly vacations, featuring beaches, hiking trails, and pet-friendly accommodations. Visit Kiva Beach and Coon Street Beach for dog-friendly fun. Explore the Rubicon Trail or the Tahoe Rim Trail with your furry friend. Stay at Basecamp Hotel in Tahoe City, which charges a one-time fee of $45 for pets.


This picturesque town is known for its dog-friendly attitude. Carmel Beach is an off-leash dog paradise, and the Scenic Bluff Path offers beautiful coastline views. Hike dog-friendly trails at Garland Ranch Regional Park. Stay at pet-friendly accommodations like Cypress Inn and Hofsas House Hotel. Enjoy outdoor dining with your pet at local restaurants like Forge in the Forest.

Napa Valley

This famous wine region offers dog-friendly wineries, restaurants, and accommodations. Many wineries, like Trefethen Family Vineyards and Mumm Napa, allow dogs on their grounds and outdoor tastingar eas. For a unique experience, book a pet-friendly wine tour with companies like Wine Country Dog Tours. Stay at pet-friendly accommodations like Carneros Resort and Spa and Napa River Inn. Don’t miss Skyline Wilderness Park for dog-friendly hiking trails.


Mendocino County provides plenty of outdoor activities and stunning scenery for you and your pet. Visit Mendocino Headlands State Park and Noyo Beach, where dogs are allowed on leashes. Explore dog-friendly hiking trails like Fern Canyon Trail in Van Damme State Park and Russian Gulch Waterfall Loop Trail. Stay at pet-friendly places like Stanford Inn by the Sea or Little River Inn. Many local restaurants offer outdoor seating areas that welcome pets.

Palm Springs

Palm Springs is a desert oasis for pet owners, with dog-friendly hiking trails, parks, and resorts. Challenge yourself with a hike on the dog-friendly Indian Canyons or South Lykken Trail. Enjoy off-leash dog parks like Palm Springs Dog Park and North Lykken Dog Park. Stay at pet-friendly hotels and resorts like Ace Hotel & Swim Club and The Riviera. Find pet-friendly restaurants and cafes with outdoor seating, such as El Mirasol and Lulu California Bistro.

California offers a wide variety of dog-friendly vacation destinations, from stunning coastal towns to picturesque wine valleys and desert landscapes. With numerous pet-friendly beaches, parks, hiking trails, accommodations, and dining options, you and your furry friend can enjoy an unforgettable vacation experience in the Golden State.


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