When the weather outside is frightful, the dog-friendly welcome in Santa Barbara County is still delightful. If it’s not a beach day, make it a wine day — and maybe an urban wine day, at that. Start, perhaps, in the Santa Ynez Valley enclave of Solvang, that one-of-a-kind village, founded as a Danish colony, that through architecture, bakeries, restaurants and merchants offers a taste of Denmark in California. Walking through the picture-perfect town is something of a Disneyesque experience, sure to put a smile on your face and a wag in your dog’s tail.
Duck into any of four pet-friendly tasting rooms (Lucas & Lewellen, Toccata, Casa Cassara and Royal Oaks) to sample locally produced Rhone varietals. If you’ve got a bit of an appetite going on, seek out Wandering Dog Wine Bar, where you can enjoy your flight and an artfully paired gourmet cheese and charcuterie platter at a dog-friendly patio table.
You’ll spot plenty of doggy water bowls as you stroll through town, along with pet-friendly shops like Unique Bowtique & Barkery, a dog and cat accessory shop with a bakery just for pets. Should you want to put paws to pillow for the night, you can take your pick of three lovely establishments — the Landsby (small dogs only), the Royal Copenhagen Inn and the Wine Valley Inn — that welcome canine guests.
Moving on to the city of Santa Barbara proper, you’ll find beautiful buildings, beautiful landscapes, beautiful people, beautiful dogs… Just about everything on the “American Riviera” is a treat for the eyes. The best plan of attack is to ditch your car, leash up your dog and wander car-free, finding yourself, perhaps, tasting a selection of pinot noirs along the 28-member Urban Wine Trail (don’t-miss spots with dog-friendly tasting rooms include Oreana Winery & Marketplace, where you can taste the wares of several independent winemakers; and Jaffurs Wine Cellars, where Rhone varietals are paired in a tasting room decorated with surfboards on the walls.
Alternatively, take a stroll through town and admire the abundant Spanish colonial artchitecture on a self-guided Red Tile Walking Tour. Or, enjoy a fresh-air outing at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, featuring California native plants, ocean views and 5.5 miles of dog-friendly trails.
The Santa Barbara pier and the multi-use path paralleling the famous shoreline beach offer lively perspectives, and at Arroyo Burro Beach, you can unclip and let Rover run free.
Photo Credit: @lilyandwong