the Pet-Friendly Central California Coast
time you feel the need to take a road trip in California, consider an adventure
that doesn't involve leaving your pet behind.
on Carmel City Beach
two hours south of San Francisco, drive the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), or State
Route 1, south from Carmel-by-the-Sea, through Big Sur to Santa Barbara to experience
jaw dropping vistas, explore quaint towns tucked along the mountainside and delight
in the diverse California wildlife and coastal landscape that is arguably one
of the most scenic drives in the world.
Start in idyllic Carmel-by-the-Sea — a town that retains the charm and appeal of a simpler time in a pristine setting
along the Pacific coast. There are no street addresses in Carmel, only general
descriptions based on a business or home's intersection in this quaint community.
Surf, sun and fun
The "pets welcome"
philosophy is immediately evident with a visit to one of the town's main attractions,
Carmel City Beach. This off-leash area, located just south of the famed Pebble
Beach Golf Course, offers one mile of surf and sand and is open everyday to the
public and their well-behaved pets.
Many shops and restaurants in town are dog-friendly, including
the incomparable Fourtané Estate Jewelers. This treasure trove of estate
and designer jewelry has been a staple in Carmel for nearly 60 years. Kady and
Parker, the owners' Labrador retrievers, are there to greet visitors upon arrival.
According to John Bonifas — whose family has owned and operated the business since
the 1950s — "Fourtané has the finest collections in the nation, consisting
of authentic fine antique and estate watches and jewelry from the 1800s to present
The store boasts the largest Rolex collection on the West Coast
and allows visitors to search for the perfect objets d'art or custom-design the
engagement ring of their dreams.
Dine With Your
Your pet will receive his own wine bucket full of fresh water,
while you enjoy dinner on the year-round heated garden patio at PortaBella on
Ocean Avenue. This is a great place to meet and mingle with other pet parents
and enjoy some delicious fare inspired by regions in Italy, Spain and the South
of France. For starters, try the Dungeness crab and Roasted Pepper Cakes or Fresh
Goat Cheese Ravioli in a Hazelnut Beurre Brun Sauce. For dinner, you can't go
wrong with the paella or filet mignon. The restaurant offers a large selection
of California wines, as well.
Drinks and Dozing
turning in for the evening, enjoy a nightcap on the open-air patio near the cozy
fireplace at the Cypress Inn. This landmark hotel located in the heart of town
is owned by Doris Day and Dennis LeVett. Well-behaved pets are not only welcomed,
but greeted with open arms and treats to ensure a comfortable night's stay. The
hotel offers pet-sitting services and can recommend pet-friendly dining options
around town as well.
Heading south on PCH from Carmel, roll down the windows
and allow your pet to breathe the fresh ocean air on the overwhelmingly scenic
drive south through Big Sur. After another hour or so, follow the signs to San
Luis Obispo, or "SLO" as it's affectionately called.
pet-loving community, you can browse many shops and explore the parks and other
areas of town with your pooch confidently in tow. There are several shops that
tailor specifically to pets, including the Waggin' Tail Café & Barkery,
where all new furry visitors get their photos taken and pinned to the ever-expanding
wall of animal patrons. The well-kept shop features hard-to-find pet novelties
such as a wide selection of life preservers, costumes and pet trinkets; as well
as organic, homemade dog treats. There is also a wide selection of toys and everyday
products for dogs (and other pets) of all sizes.
For lunch, dinner or Sunday
brunch, bring your well-behaved pet to NOVO Restaurant and Bakery. Consistently
ranked as on of the best eateries in SLO, diners can enjoy "innovative global
cuisine," which consists of salads, tapas, stir fry and curries. There, pets
are welcome on the outdoor patio, which is located near a creek.
you prefer camping to hotels, dogs are allowed (on leash) at El Chorro Regional
Park Campground. There are 62 campsites for tent or RV camping, and the area features
a golf course, barbecue facilities, volleyball courts, an off-leash dog park,
horseshoe pits, a botanical garden, softball fields and hiking trails. To stay
overnight, there is an additional $2 per night charge per pet.
Own Private Sandcastle
If feel like driving a bit further to seek
more comfortable accommodations, catch the 101 and continue south for about 10
minutes until you reach the Sandcastle Inn. Reservations are highly recommended
for this pet-friendly Shangri-la, located right on the sand in Pismo Beach. The
hotel is walking distance to the pier and its many shops and restaurants. Spend
the day and evening exploring this beach community and relax to the sounds of
the waves crashing on the shore at night.
With Your Dog
After a restful night's sleep, maybe you're ready
to sample the Central Coast's most famous commodity — wine. Two wineries in Solvang
(just north of Santa Barbara), Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard and Lincourt
Vineyard, allow pets on-leash on the patios. To get there, take the scenic PCH
or the (still scenic, but much quicker) Highway 101, and follow the signs to Solvang.
Spend the early afternoon wine tasting award-winning vintages including Buttonwood's
sauvignon blanc blend and Lincourt's 2005 Pinot Noir, which was named "Best
Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara" by Food & Wine.
After you've had a few sips of wine, zip down Highway 101 to
your final Central California destination — Santa Barbara. By now, it's probably
time for Fido to stretch his legs. Consider making a stop at the Douglas Family
Preserve (just off State Route 225), a beautiful 70-acre open park expanse with
stunning beach views and trails running throughout the bluffs. Well-behaved dogs
are welcome to explore the area on or off-leash.
After days of driving and an afternoon of imbibing, perhaps
you're ready to splurge on your last night's accommodations (go ahead, you deserve
it!). Consider the Four Seasons Biltmore. Dogs less than 50 pounds are allowed
at this five-star establishment located in the prestigious Montecito area, just
south of Santa Barbara. There are 207 guest rooms, suites and 12 private cottages.
Rates begin at $550 per night. Reservations are recommended, so be sure to call
ahead to reserve what may very well be the most comfortable room you and your
pet will enjoy along the Central California Coast.
Estate & Contemporary Jewelry & Watches
and Lincoln Street
Avenue, between Lincoln and Monte Verde
Lincoln and 7th
Cafe & Bakery
722 Marsh St.
San Luis Obispo, Calif. 93401
Chorro Regional Park Campground
San Luis Obispo, Calif.
Restaurant and Bakery
726 Higuera Street
San Luis Obispo, Calif.
Pismo Beach, Calif. 93449
Farm Winery & Vineyard
1500 Alamo Pintado Road
1711 Alamo Pintado Road
Solvang, California 93463
2981 Cliff Dr.
Santa Barbara, Calif.
1260 Channel Drive
Santa Barbara, Calif. 93108