If you're trying to sniff out a place with scents galore for Snuffy, oil-painting vistas for you, and lots of opportunities to explore at your own pace, head for one of California's many dog-friendly botanical gardens. There you'll find easy paths for on-leash meandering, plus inviting picnic grounds, well-placed benches, and photo opportunities galore. Spring flowers are especially showy, but each season brings its own delights.
Spring's the time to see spectacular rhododendrons, heritage roses and wildflowers at the Mendocino Botanical Garden, a perennial reader favorite, and for good reason. Bring a picnic lunch, find a nice table overlooking the ocean, and enjoy the view. (Didn't bring lunch? No worries. Find sustenance for dogs and peeps at Rhody's Garden Café.)
In Redding, walk across the Sundial Bridge to the McConnell Arboretum & Botanical Gardens. If you feel like an expedition, head out to explore the Arboretum's 200 acres and network of paved paths, including one that will put you on the Sacramento River Trail. More leisurely option: stroll around the 20 acres of Mediterranean-climate display gardens, with plenty of stops for pleasing views or awesome sniffs.
People and dogs alike can pursue botanical studies at the UC Davis Arboretum, with 18 gardens spread over 100 creekside acres, showcasing flora and fauna from around the world. Miles of easy paved path if you want it — or you can pick your destination climate and stay there.
Further south, get your native-plant game on at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden with 5.5 miles of tail-waggin' trails winding through its 65 acres. San Luis Obispo is in the process of creating its own Botanical Garden, with 150 acres of Mediterranean plantings and 50 miles of paved trails. Currently, leashed dogs and their escorts can check out the 2-acre Preview Garden.