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California Dreamin' San Francisco, Huntington beach & santa barbara

California offers so much...

I'm lucky because my bestie, Bidam, is always up for an adventure. How could I refuse when he suggested a road trip to southern California? While it's not the snow and mountains, I'm always up for a romp on the beach, the sand between my toes and sun kissed salty fur.

You don't have to travel far to make us dogs happy.

California is so diverse; there's so much to explore right in our own backyard!

On the road

Co-pilot

We decided to make it down to Southern California as quickly as possible, which means we stayed on I-5 with a rest break in Kroll Dog Park, Bakersfield, to stretch our legs. We say this all the time, but man, dog parks in the suburbs are no joke. This looked like a giant bowl.

This doesn't even capture the entire park

This park is just one big open space, so no separate sections for smaller dogs and there are a lot of big dogs here - quite different from what we see in the city. It's also all grass and dirt, so if it rained recently then just be prepared. There are mixed reviews about this park from folks in the area. For our purposes it was exactly what we needed: space to run and mingle with some locals, all of whom were friendly and very playful. It worked out for our humans too because there are picnic tables outside so they got to enjoy their lunch, and sadly, did not share any.

It took us about 7 - 8 hours. Not too bad.

Surf City, USA

My human has always been skeptical of Southern California because she automatically thinks of Los Angeles, the traffic, the smog, and the heat. But man oh man, staying in a beach town is completely different. Huntington Beach is also extremely dog friendly with extremely responsible dog owners of all sizes. What's equally astonishing is with the number of dogs we saw everyday, and at the dog beach, there's no poop anywhere, and poop bags and trash bins everywhere!

Scented poop bags?!

You can check out this site to start planning a dog-friendly visit to Surf City, USA!

Pasea Hotel and Spa

Conveniently located by the beach and Pacific City, which is an outdoor mall with lots of shops and places to eat. Since the weather ended up being perfect (in the 70's) we sat outside everyday to eat, even for dinner.

We forgot to take pictures around the hotel, but in general, Pasea gives you everything you need: clean rooms, spacious, even for the four of us (2 double beds) and a large crate, and friendly staff; everyone greeted us when we walked through the lobby.

Posing in the lobby with an art installation made out of flip flops!

There's a restaurant in the hotel, Tanner's, but we only ate there once (in 5 nights) for dinner because there are so many other inexpensive options in Pacific City and generally around the area, all within walking distance. And frankly, when you can walk along the beach it's just worth it to get out and explore.

There's also a cafe in the lobby that the humans did visit every morning for coffee and breakfast items. Plus, the barista was just so nice!

Our favorite barista hard at work!

One thing the humans found odd, and this could have been just our room, was how low the sink water pressure was (the shower's and tub's were ok), so make sure to check it when you check-in if you complain like our humans do. It was so low that when the humans had to wash our bowls they had to use the tub, which frankly, didn't make much different to us, but we're dogs, so there isn't a whole lot that bothers us.

Restaurants

Here are some of the places our humans checked out:

In Pacific City

Ways & Means Oyster House - lunch; ok lobster roll (not the best) but nice outdoor seating area and friendly service.
  • Lemonade - lunch; healthier options and poke; refreshing lemonade and nice outdoor seating options with views of the ocean. Did I mention the lemonade?
  • Burnt Crumbs (in Lot 579) - sandwiches; dinner; tried the Rueben which was good, not the best, but tasty and hearty
  • Top Dog - cute dog bakery, treats and accessories boutique
Popbar (in Lot 579) - customized ice cream/gelato/ice bars; expensive novelty, more interesting to watch than to eat.

Around town

  • Pacific Hideaway - Latin/Asian inspired cuisine with dog friendly outdoor seating that overlooks 5th Street; dinner; yummy guacamole and beef tacos
  • Sanchos Tacos - My human's favorite; right on the beach; surprisingly delicious vegetarian taco (and fish taco) with dog-friendly outdoor seating
  • Sit Stay Cafe - local cafe with coffee, pastries and small items. Extremely dog-friendly. In fact, they have a wall of of their four-legged patrons!

Huntington Beach

Huntington beach is essentially a beach that runs along Pacific Coast Highway 1. Walking from Pasea to the dog beach, which is at the north end of the beach, and back is about 3 miles. There's a bike/pedestrian path the whole way at beach level as well as a bike/pedestrian path above the beach at street level. Dogs must remain on leash at all times along the beach - no exceptions. Walking along the beach you can check out all the runners, volleyball matches, kite flyers and surfers, or you can sit along the pier and just enjoy the ocean views.

Morning yoga

Even the seagulls enjoy the beach

Street level bike/pedestrian path. There are a lot of squirrels here.

Entering the dog beach from the (metered) parking lot off PCH 1.

The one eyesore are all the oil rigs you can see off shore.

Keeping cool.

We made friends with this happy guy.

After 5 nights we were ready to start making our way back north with a 2 night stay in Santa Barbara.

Kimpton Goodland

The Kimpton Goodland is the more economical choice compared to the Kimpton Canary in downtown Santa Barbara.

The property has a bunch of colorful touches, often a retro throwback, including this classic car,

...this airstream,

...and this record "shop" where you can take records to enjoy in your room.

All Kimpton properties are dog friendly. Upon check in they provide bowls and dog beds.

You can also check out these bikes for day use.

The overall property is like an upscale motel, with some rooms that face outside (parking), and some rooms that face an inner courtyard, that has a small lawn and pool.

I didn't mind our view because at least I could see when the humans came back.

The rooms are really basic. Even though our room faced the parking lot it was surprisingly quiet.

Outpost is the restaurant on property. We only had brunch there and boy, oh boy, was it yummy! I know because I tried the bacon.

If you're wondering why we're inside the restaurant, it's because it was very rainy when we visited so there wasn't any outdoor seating available. This property is so dog friendly they let us sit inside. There were lots of other doggies here, too, hanging out in the lobby, in the courtyard...

Our humans did leave us in the room (we don't bark) since it was very rainy when we visited. They wandered around State Street in downtown Santa Barbara and also had an adult dinner at Finch & Fork, at the Kimpton Canary. If you have the chance, our humans highly recommend the restaurant, especially the seafood pot pie - but I have no idea because we didn't get to try any! 😩

Whale Watching

The highlight of the weekend, though, was sailing with Sunset Kidd, a dog-friendly whale watching cruise (just $40/person and no extra fee for us pups). Even though the forecast said it was going to rain we got lucky; we booked a 10am Saturday cruise and the rain held off the entire 2.5 hours. Our group only had 2 other parties: a family of four and a man visiting from Minnesota, leaving plenty of space on the boat to move around.

Bidam and I have never been on a boat before and it took us a couple tries getting on, but once we did it was smooth sailing from there!

Mom made me wear my booties for better traction. If you have booties, I highly recommend them for boats!

We got to see see lions and dolphins!

Wake me up when you some whales

😴

Nothing like that ocean breeze on your face.

Bidam liked it too 😀(you can see him in the back)

Where ARE you whales?!

We actually did end up seeing whales - in fact, one ended up right next to our boat! You can check out the epic video here (taken by another nice passenger). Bidam and I were super curious and we still don't really get what whales are, but they certainly smell interesting!

The crew at Sunset Kidd were extremely friendly and welcoming, so we highly recommend trying whale watching with your pups if they're up for it. Plus, on a nicer day, you can also enjoy walking around the Santa Barbara harbor and try some delicious seafood. Even though it looked like I was sleeping the whole time, we were pooped after the ride!

The next day the sun came out and we had to pack up to head back home. But before hitting the road we made one more Santa Barbara stop at Douglas Family Preserve and Hendry's Beach.

Douglas Family Preserve is over 70 acres of public park land above Arroyo Burro Beach, or as locals call it, Hendry's Beach.

The park and the beach are connected by a hiking trail, so you can either park at the beach, or at the park.

To access the park trail head, park along Selrose Lane, a residential street.

Amazing views of the ocean.

Lots of happy people and happy pups, here!

There are lots of interconnecting trails here, some by the ocean, some go inland. Either way, you can't go wrong here; it's endless space to run around.

There are signs throughout the park designating certain areas on-leash and some off, so keep an eye out. From what we saw, some people seemed to follow the rules while others didn't.

To access Hendry's Beach from the park there's a leash-only trail that leads you downhill, away from the ocean. You cross a wooden bridge which leads you directly to Hendry's Beach parking lot.

There's also a self-washing station in the parking lot.

Just follow the foot path that runs along the edge of the parking lot and voila! You're at Hendry's Beach.

Sandy water - yum!

From here we hit the road and took 101 all the way back up to San Francisco. But not without one more stop.

Mom heard about a popular inn, Madonna Inn, that serves a famous pink champagne cake (that's not pink). This is worth a stop even if you're not into cake, just to see the property alone. It's like a magical garden and restaurant all in one - right off the highway. Apparently the cake wasn't too shabby either. 😉

We know traveling with pups can be intimidating, but hopefully this inspires some of you to give it a go and create new adventures! Your pups will thank you for it!

Happy exploring!

🐾 Caesar

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