Dog-Friendly Road Trip to Mendocino County

We just got back from a 6-day road trip up the Central Coast of Calfornia! Ok, so in six days we really squeezed in a lot of stops and miles–over 1000, to be exact! Since we had a tight schedule, we really made the most of it. 

My friend Liz was visiting from England and it was her first time in California and it was the first time for Fira and I doing this drive up north, too- finally! The farthest north I had been before was San Luis Obispo (besides San Francisco), so I was super excited to venture up with the girls.

carmel by the sea dog road trip

(325 miles north of Los Angeles)

carmel by the sea

Carmel-By-The-Sea: the most dog friendly city in the country.

We left LA early and headed north. We got really lucky and the weather was 80+ degrees most days! We blasted the AC for Fira, went through some of Bob Dylan’s hits and picked up Del Taco (being from England, this was on the top of Liz’s list). 

Carmel was home to actress and animal activist Doris Day, who was co-owner of Cypress Inn — deemed one of the most pet friendly hotels in the country. Carmel is a tiny town but it packs a punch with its adorable fairy-tale style buildings and story-book homes. We took Fira for a walk to the beach and loved pointing out all the different style houses! 

carmel dog friendly

We stayed one night at Hotel Carmel (totally recommend) and what else did we do? Food and wine tastings!

Another hotel in Carmel we’ve stayed at is the Getaway which offers a welcome kit for pups with a plush bed, treats, bowl + poo bags. Read my full review here.



Forge in the Forest. Beautiful outdoor patio with fireplace and even a doggie menu. 

Casanova. European cuisine open for dinner and an outdoor patio once frequented by Van Gogh.

La Bicyclette. French-Italian made with fresh, local ingredients.

Stationæry. Yummy brunch with a doggie menu too!



Did you know you can purchase a wine passport and have tasting flights in any 10 of the 13 rooms in Carmel? From reading all the reviews online, it looks like dogs are welcomed in all!


mendocino dog road trip

(275 miles north of Carmel)

After a beautiful drive through the redwoods, we finally arrived to Mendocino for the first stop: a wine tasting at Maple Creek Winery (located in Mendocino’s famed wine country and about a 45-minute drive from the Mendocino Coast)! Very dog friendly and the Cowboy Red is a must. 

dog friendly wineries california

Maverick, Fira + Chompers

little river inn mendocino

little river inn dog

If you guys are ever in Mendocino, stay at Little River Inn. We stayed two nights and it was just what we needed. Spectacular view of the sea, delicious food, so quiet and relaxing. It’s also family-owned so you get that special, one-of-a-kind service.



Anchor Charter Boats. 

Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens. $14/person. Pets free. 

Catch A Canoe. Canoes made especially for dogs! This was such a blast! We had a guided tour that was about 2 hours on Big River.

Skunk Train. Historic scenic train journey through the redwoods. Tickets from $27+.

skunk train


We headed back down south, spent the day driving and then the night at a random motel in Fremont. In the morning, we drove a few more hours and arrived to Big Sur. We didn’t sleep over but we had the whole day to just lounge and stop at the beaches for sun — don’t forget the baby beach tent! It’s listed here in my What To Pack When Traveling post

Certain areas of Pfeiffer State Park and campgrounds are dog friendly and dogs are allowed on Pfeiffer State Beach. Here’s a great dog-friendly guide from a fellow traveler. 

I want to go back and next time will stay at the famed Ventana! Dogs are welcome for $150/stay and they even offer glamping. 

250 miles later, we arrived in Ojai! Ooh, was I tired and grumpy at this point, lol. I immediately got a massage for my aching back at Bamboo Creek (Chinese massage, $48/hr) and we refreshed ourselves with some wine at Ojai Valley Inn


Hip Vegan. My fave lunch spot here- every dish is so spot-on with flavor.

Boccali’s. A true Ojai family-owned classic. Huge portions of pasta + garlic bread.

Farmer + Cook. Farm-to-table Mexican/vegan food.

Oak Grill. Delicious Californian cuisine at Ojai Valley Inn.

Don’t forget to check out my Dog Friendly Ojai Getaway Guide!


Watch out for poison oak! Apparently, there’s been a huge overgrowth of poison oak in the Central Coast area and somewhere/somehow I got into some. I’m now itching like crazy and waiting for these rashes to go away!

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  1. Love this post! It’s a dream of mine to visit Northern California. Now knowing all these spots I can take Meaty makes me wanna visit even more. Did Fira need many potty breaks or is she good in the car? Did Weston not want to go? LOL

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