Sacramento and Folsom are the dog-friendly gateways to California Gold Country. And there’s no denying it: temperatures here can get very hot here in the summer. The upside is that Sacramento is blessed with a marine phenomenon known as the “Delta breeze” that puffs up most evenings, cooling temperatures by as much as 30 degrees. The secret to a great visit no matter what the temp is to find a splash spot for you and your furry friend.
The American River is the aquatic artery uniting Sacramento and El Dorado counties, bringing refreshment in the form of cold, clear water originating in Sierra Nevada snowmelt. Flows are artificially controlled, and even in this drought year, releases allowing for safe rafting and kayaking on weekends are guaranteed. If you yearn to get out on the water with your pup but don’t have a boat of your own, do what the locals do and rent a raft from American River Raft Rentals. You can even join the weekend flotilla that forms along a six-mile stretch of lazy water between Sunrise Bridge and River Bend Park in Sacramento’s eastern suburbs.
A stroll along the shady, 32-mile American River Parkway connecting Old Sacramento, Folsom and Folsom Lake State Recreation Area is always rewarding, and all of the 80-plus miles of trails around the lake are dog-friendly. Lake Natoma, a smaller body of water on the American River just below Folsom Dam, is a popular destination for kayaking, sailing, rowing and other forms of non-motorized water recreation. Dogs are allowed at picnic areas but not on swimming beaches, but don’t not go because of those pesky rules: you’ll find many other spots along the shore where it’s OK to let Bella go for a dip.
Up for an urban repast? Many local restaurants and pubs with outdoor seating are dog friendly. In Sacramento, you and yours can lounge in the shade while you choose from an extensive menu of food and brews at The Shack, a popular spot in the East Sacramento neighborhood. In Midtown, the shady porch at the Golden Bear is a great people-watching venue where small plates as well as weekend brunch and daily lunch and dinner are served. Der Biergarten, a German-style venue next door, opens at 3 p.m. and is generally packed soon after. Your dog is welcome, but you might find the scene on weekend evenings a bit too overwhelming for Daisy’s comfort.
In Old Town Folsom, Karen’s Bakery, a regionally known culinary landmark just steps from the American River Bike Trail, is the go-to place for cyclists, kayakers, hikers and dog walkers. A stroll down historic Sutter Street will reveal other dog-friendly venues.
Find more places to chill with your dog or stay overnight in our Sacramento County pages.