Travel with Your Dog in CA

By and large, the Golden State's accessible outdoor expanses make it ideal for dog-inclusive travel.
  • By and large, the Golden State's accessible outdoor expanses make it ideal for dog-inclusive travel.

With an estimated nine-million-plus dogs in California alone, it’s no wonder there are so many dogs at parks, beaches and recreation areas throughout the state.

The mile-long Huntington Dog Beach, the epitome of a perfect dog beach, has an inviting expanse of sand for romping and splashing in the surf. This beach town is a strong contender for “Dog City USA” with its wide selection of canine-friendly venues.

The alpine town of Mammoth Lakes rolls out the welcome mat for dogs. Dogs ride free in the summer on the gondola to the summit of Mammoth Mountain and also have free transportation on local buses and the shuttle to Red's Meadow and Devil's Postpile. Mammoth is surrounded by national forest land, a dog's best friend for off-leash romping. Dogs are allowed on the John Muir Trail around McLeod Lake, a perfect canine hiking trail.

Dog Fancy magazine chose Carmel as the most dog-friendly small town in America, as it gets 50,000 canine visitors a year. Everything about Carmel seems designed with dogs in mind, from Doris Day's Cypress Inn to the town's dazzling white leash-free beach to galleries that hang paintings at dog's-eye level. Stroll down Ocean Avenue, where you’ll see jars of dog treats in most stores and frequent signs of “All Dogs Welcome,” as well as hitching posts for dog leashes outside of shops and dog waste bag dispensers on street corners.

At the dog-friendly Stanford Inn in Mendocino, you can bring your pet into Raven’s restaurant but you won’t find any animal products served on the all-vegan menu. With 20-plus pet-friendly accommodations, the town of Mendocino makes a great base for you and your dog(s) to explore this stretch of Northern California coast.

If your dog loves trees, he'll enjoy a stroll among the tallest in the world in Humboldt County, where Fido can scamper off-leash among redwoods. And Humboldt has six dog beaches, one of which is at the end of a five-mile coastal trail.

Traveling with your pets requires some planning for a successful road trip. Before booking accommodations, DogTrekker advises that you first speak with someone for policies and fees on your four-legged travel companion, as some allow only certain breeds, sizes or weights, etc.

Make sure that the camping or hiking destination allows your dog on trails, as some restrict dogs to campsites. Be sure to pack toys, bedding, food, harnesses and other comforts from home to ensure Fido will be more relaxed in a new environment. Pack your dog’s ID tag with contact number, along with vet records and recent photos, just in case. And make sure you have plenty of poop bags to pick up after your dog during the ride and at the destination.

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Yes! Bring lots and lots of poop bags.

And please remember that owning a pet means more than just feeding them and walking them and picking up their poop--it also means you need to occasionally brush the dog if it is a breed that sheds, and give the poor mutt a bath once in awhile. I cannot believe the number I encounter that shed a handful of hair with every stroke when I'm petting them, and it's not just hair coming from the dog--the stench makes me wonder why someone would want to own a dog if they are not going to care for it? Yes--dogs need baths too!

Wake up, owners! No one minds you bringing your dog out where others sit, and shop, converse, and play, but your dog's presence should not make the experience less pleasant for others as a result.

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