Calling all California beach hounds and fur-less chauffeurs! The Golden Coast is calling and we’ve mapped the perfect route. You may know how prep for a road trip with your dog, but do you know where to stop when nature (and general car cabin fever) calls? Pop in a playlist, pack some chew toys, and pad that backseat. You’re in for a treat.
Stop #1: Catch the Surf in San Diego
Start your journey with a dip at San Diego’s original dog beach, an Ocean Beach community’s surfer haven where dogs and duck dives harmoniously coexist. Let your little dude run off-leash and soak up the San Diego sunshine along this wide stretch of pet-friendly sand – perfect for a harmless digging party with new pals.
Stop #2: Try Doggie Dining in Irvine
After your morning in the surf, you and your dog will be hankering for a (friendly) bite. About 1 ½ hours north of Ocean Beach, you’ll find culinary respite at Irvine’s Lazy Dog Café. This California eatery is a dog lover’s haven with an extensive menu for pet parents and a small selection of treats for their furry table mates. Enjoy an afternoon on the patio where patrons are treated like kings and dogs are treated like members of the royal family. Before you head out, just don’t forget to snap a photo of your lazy dog and submit it to the “Lazy Dog Hall of Fame.”
Stop #3: Loosen Your Collar in Long Beach
At this point, you’ve been en route for a couple of hours and it’s time for a potty break. Good thing Recreation Dog Park is within paw’s reach. Open between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., this pooch playground covers two acres of enclosed space where you dog can run, jump, and sniff to his/her off-leashed content. Bags and pooper scoopers are even provided for easy clean-up.
Stop #4: Lap Up Luxury in Los Angeles
Sometimes, a dog just needs to shop. Luckily, popular outdoor retail refuge, The Grove, is a canine-friendly space to spot celebrities and keep up-to-date with the latest fashion (and collar) trends. Just note, The Grove is known to enforce breed restrictions. Be sure to call ahead to see if your pal is on the list.
Stop #5: Say “Oui” in Santa Barbara
After a long trek from LA, you’ll be happy to drift into the French-Californian oasis that is Café Stella. The restaurant’s dog-friendly patio is open seven days a week, but hurry in before sunset. Happy hour is offered daily from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., allowing pet parents to imbibe on $4 cocktails and appetizers while their little ones lap fresh ice water provided by the restaurant’s friendly staff.
Stop #6: Cool Down in Santa Clara
Almost there! You’ve been travelling for eight hours (if you’re lucky – but let’s just assume your drive through LA was more akin to a bumper crawl) and if you have to listen to “Who Let the Dogs Out” one more time, you might lose it. It’s time to get some fresh air.
Reed Street Dog Park will be your saving grace. Tree-lined and grassy-knolled, this 1.5 acre off-leash park is a perfect spot for you and your dog to regroup.
Stop #7: Warm Up in San Francisco
You made it! From San Diego to San Francisco, you’ve explored California’s finest dog spots and have earned the cold beer and lively atmosphere that makes El Rio a Mission District favorite. Karaoke? Got it. Pugs in tutus? No problem. All people and their dogs are welcome. Just don’t pull out any credit cards, which staff un-lovingly refer to as “the end of the world.” Much like your dog, at El Rio, cash is king.
So, you indulged in Los Angeles and buried treasures at dog beach. You let your hair down in San Francisco and chased a few tails in Santa Clara. Now, it’s time to go home, wherever home may be.
Just make sure to refresh those car speakers before you head out.