Kayla at the top of 7 Falls Trail
Almost everything in Santa Barbara, from the beautiful buildings to the beautiful people, the beautiful seashore and the beautiful dogs, qualifies as eye candy. The “American Riviera” is the kind of place where you can ditch your car, leash up your dog and wander, perhaps finding yourself admiring Spanish colonial architecture on the podcast-guided Red Tile Walking Tour, or enjoying the plantings at the dog-friendly Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. The Santa Barbara pier and the multi-use path paralleling the beach offer lively perspectives, and at Arroyo Burro Beach you can unclip and let Rover run free.
If you wait until spring to visit Santa Barbara, put the Seven Falls Trail on your “must-do-with-dog” list. The 3-mile path, moderately easy in terms of elevation gain but requiring quite a bit of rock-hopping, has it all: swimming holes, waterfalls and wildflowers. And while the water dries up in summer and disappears by fall, the scenery alone is worth the trek. The cascades, carved into sandstone, flow fiercely only after a rain, but the sculpted canyon walls are natural works of art. Another plus: in fog-free autumn, you can see Santa Barbara spread out like a toy town below you.
At any time of year, visiting DogTrekkers are welcome to join the locals on the area’s most popular day hike. The Rattlesnake Canyon Trail, just 15 minutes from downtown, attracts scores of dogs and their people due to its year-round creek and shady environment. The 5-mile (round trip) path crosses Rattlesnake Creek multiple times before climbing out of the canyon for increasingly panoramic views of the Pacific coast and the Channel Islands on the horizon. When you come to a junction at 1.7 miles, you have choices: bear left to the connector path leading to the strenuous Tunnel Trail, or bear right and follow the switchbacks to Gibraltar Road, where hang-gliders take off and rock climbers practice their craft. (Oh, and we should mention that, despite the menacing name, you’re not likely to see a rattlesnake on this trail!)
When it comes time to paws for the night, the Canary, a Kimpton hotel, wears puppy love on its sleeve—and doesn’t charge extra for pets. Other dog-friendly choices include the Fess Parker, Blue Sands Motel, Casa del Mar Bed and Breakfast Inn and Best Western Beachside Inn.