When’s the last time you explored these Sonoma County gems with your four-legged friend? Start in Petaluma, a delightful community with an old-fashioned downtown and, in 9-acre Rocky Memorial Dog Park, one of the largest and most amenity-laden fenced canine playgrounds in the state.
In addition, Petaluma boasts a dozen city parks where licensed pups under voice control can frolic leash-free at designated dog-run areas during posted hours. (In other areas, leashes are required. (Shollenberger Park, with a 2.2-mile trail, is especially lovely.)
A top destination for many visitors here is the iconic Lagunitas Brewing Co., rated one of the top craft breweries in the country. Dogs are welcome to sit and watch you sample a Fresh-Hop Born Yesterday or 12th of Never Ale at an outdoor table, and can also accompany you on facility tours. Want to overnight? Cuddle up at the historic Hotel Petaluma to be right in the middle of town, or move a bit out from the core to the Sheraton Sonoma County Hotel, where you can relax in a peaceful, resort-like setting. The Petaluma KOA is another option, offering dog-friendly cabins perfect for families with dogs, as well as a 4,000 square-foot dog park and complete agility course.
Moving on to Sebastopol, just 17 miles up Highway 116, you’ll find lots to explore at the Barlow, a former apple-processing facility transformed into a dog- and family-friendly shopping and dining compound with more than three dozen outlets connecting consumers with local artists, food producers, winemakers, distillers and brewers. DogTrekkers can shop, browse and plunk down at an outdoor table (Woodfour Brewing Company is a good bet) for lunch. The newest dog-friendly venue is Crooked Goat (ask about the origins of the name), a craft brewery with 15 beers on tap and a locally-sourced light-eats menu. For an off-leash romp, head to Ragle Ranch Dog Park, a fenced canine playground in Ragle Ranch Regional Park.
Next stop: Santa Rosa. If you want to walk (and maybe take a dog-friendly Uber back), you can, on the paved Joe Rodata Trail, which runs 7.5 miles between towns along the bed of the long-abandoned Petaluma and Santa Rosa Railway. It’s an especially vibrant hike in fall, when trees and vineyards are turning color.
A top DogTrekker destination in Santa Rosa is Vintner’s Square, a hip urban shopping, dining and entertainment complex with multiple outdoor seating areas where dogs accompanied by their people are welcome. Dog-friendly places to rest your head overnight include Hilton Sonoma Wine Country, Hyatt Regency Sonoma Wine Country, Flamingo Conference Resort & Spa, and Best Western Garden Inn.