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.
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 vegetarian 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.
For an active outing, Catch A Canoe & Bicycles, Too, on the grounds of the inn, rents all manner of paddle craft including “canine cruiser” outrigger canoes with a platform where dogs can sit as you paddle an 8.3-mile stretch of the calm and inky Big River estuary, ending up at the sea.
For more on dog-friendly Mendocino, click here.
Photo Credit: @meganevaughan