Photo: Instagram @foxandtheroo
The dog-friendly East Bay communities of Concord and Pleasant Hill in Contra Costa County have something very much in common: both look out on Mount Diablo, an isolated peak that juts up almost 4,000 feet between the East Bay and the Central Valley. From the summit on a clear day (and there are lots of them in fall and winter, especially following a storm), one of the most expansive views in North America opens up.
Dogs are restricted to “developed areas” at Mount Diablo State Park—but “developed areas” include the lookout deck near the summit (go early to get a parking spot) where, in optimal conditions, you can look out as far as 200 miles and take in landmarks including the Sierra Nevada, the Sacramento/San Joaquin River Delta, the Farallon Islands and even Mount Lassen, way up north. (An interesting bit of trivia: Since it was first surveyed in 1851, Mount Diablo has served as a point of reference on virtually all property deeds in Northern California and southern Oregon.)
Come back down to earth, and you’ll find lots to like in the base-area communities. If you’re a walker, jogger, or hiker, you’ll find the dog-friendly Hilton Concord, ideally situated adjacent to the Iron Horse Trail, a paved multi-use path stretching 32 miles between Concord and Walnut Creek.
Visitors can’t come to Concord without learning that it’s the birthplace of jazz great Dave Brubeck and the Concord record label famous for recording independent jazz artists. Concord’s downtown revolves around Todos Santos Plaza, a community gathering space that hosts many a concert in summer plus weekly farmers markets. It’s surrounded by shops and dog-friendly restaurants including the always-hopping Hop Grenade, a stop on the Concord Beer Trail.
In nearby Pleasant Hill, you’ll find a half-dozen or more dog-friendly lodging spots to lay paws and heads, among them Homewood Suites by Hilton, Extended Stay America, Hyatt House and Residence Inn.
Any of them will put you within easy striking distance of pooch-accommodating restaurants like Fat Maddie’s Barrelhouse & Bistro, serving farm-fresh, Southern-inspired dishes like gumbo and shrimp-and-grits with lots of beer and spirit offerings on the side. Another solid choice is downtown’s Jack’s Restaurant & Bar, where humans can enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner specialties on a dog-friendly patio.
If you’re looking for a place for Fido to run off energy after sitting patiently by your side as you eat, make tracks for Paso Nogal Open Space and Dog Park. You’ll find 63 acres of open space laced with hiking trails (leashed dogs welcome) along with a 2.5-acre fenced exercise area divided into sections for small and large dogs.