Even in November and December, you’ll find yourself humming a Beach Boys tune as you stroll the sands of aptly named Dog Beach, a leash-free segment of a longer strand in Huntington Beach, aka “Surf City USA.” You’ll find a flip-flop casual welcome almost anywhere you go in this quintessential Orange County beach town just 35 miles south of Los Angeles on the Pacific Coast Highway.
On Monday nights, after you shake the sand out of your shoes, bring your four-legged sidekick to Doggie Date Night at Fred’s Mexican Café, where Frieda eats free when Mom or Dad orders an entrée. The Park Bench Café also offers canine cuisine, along with good people-watching, human food and dog-friendly seating at picnic tables on the grass at Huntington Central Park, where amenities include an off-leash dog play area. Another visitor favorite is the “Wiener Dog Store” (officially Paws at the Coffee Mill at Old World Village), a small dog boutique where smile-producing races for dachshunds and other short breeds are staged monthly (weekly in fall).
For stretching your legs in the salt-tinged air, Surf City offers up lots of options. Hike alongside Huntington State Beach (sorry, no dogs allowed near the water) on a paved, 4-mile, multi-use trail extending to Long Beach in the north and Newport Beach to the south. Or, follow the Santa Ana River Trail, a relatively flat and nicely paved path that you’ll share with cyclists. Several other beaches in the OC allow leashed dogs on the sand, but be sure to check before you go.
When it’s time to put head to dog bed, you won’t find a warmer welcome than at the Shorebreak Hotel, part of the famously dog-friendly Kimpton chain. The Hyatt Regency and Waterfront Beach Resort are other great choices in the luxury category.
Headed to Disneyland? Anaheim boasts many hotel choices in the moderate category, but you’ll need to make day-care arrangements for your four-legged companion unless someone in your party is willing to stay behind and hang out with Fido instead of Mickey. The early dogs get the bones at the first-come, first-served, climate-controlled Disneyland Resort Kennel Club day-care facility near the main entrance (be sure to bring vet records). Or, reserve in advance at Camp Bow Wow, where you’ll need to visit a day ahead and complete a “camper interview” to be accepted.
Photo Credit: @lismariede