A mere glimpse of Mendocino’s gorgeously sculpted coastline is all it takes to turn urban angst into rural revelation. The scenery is so intoxicating you can happily spend a week along the Highway 1 corridor without venturing beyond sight or sound of the sea.
Start in Fort Bragg, where your dog can romp leash-free on Noyo Beach and enjoy a hike over the Pudding Creek Trestle and along the California Coastal Trail. Cuddle up at the dog-centric Beachcomber Motel or Emerald Dolphin Inn and, if time permits, visit the dog-friendly Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens or treat yourself to a scenic excursion on the historic, steam-powered Skunk Train, which criss-crosses over the Noyo River, cuts over coastal mountains and meanders through redwood forests on a 23-mile run toward Willits.
Moving south, 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 for a hike on a gorgeous, bluff-top trail to moody Big River State Beach.
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, DogTrekkers are served at tables in the lobby, 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.
In nearby Little River, 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. Dog-friendly Van Damme State Beach is nearby.
Photo Credit: Mark Cosy (CC)