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See California With Your Dog

The most scenic spots to explore with your pup.

by Maria Goodavage
August 12, 2021
A woman kneeling on the shore of a lake looking at her brown dog standing next to her
bojanstory / iStock

When it comes to dog-friendly getaways, California’s options are unbeatable. Though the city has its own advantages, our favorite summer spots are cool, waterside, and scenic. Here are a few gorgeous spots that your pup will be obsessed with, plus the best lodging to kick back in after a game of catch.

North Coast

The redwoods are fat and the North Coast beaches are often leash-free and cooled by a blanket of fog. Take an unleashed hike on the wild side at the magnificent coastal 62,000-acre King Range National Conservation Area in Shelter Cove and stay at the Halcyon Inn Bed & Breakfast in Eureka. Don’t miss the Avenue of the Giants, a 31-mile route through some of the biggest redwoods in the world (including Luna, made famous by Julia Butterfly Hill’s extended stay).

South Lake Tahoe

Your dog can swim in the sparkling blue waters of Lake Tahoe and fish with you on a charter boat. Spend the night at the cozy cottages of Holly’s Place , with its leash-free 2.5 enclosed acres, and dine outdoors at the very hip and dog-friendly FiRE + iCE, right under the Heavenly gondola.


Very, very few national parks in the United States permit dogs on trails. So, if you want to backpack with your pup, it’s best to stick to national forests, BLM land or wilderness areas. A great trail to hike with your dog is the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) between Sonora Pass and Lake Tahoe. This gorgeous trail does not pass through a national park, so you can hike the entire way with your dog.

Mono County

A visit to the strange and ancient Mono Lake is about the closest you’ll come to exploring another planet. It’s an otherworldly must-see, but far too salty for dog paddling. Save the swimming for the nearby beautiful Eastern Sierra lakes, Lake Mary or June Lake, for example. Like ghost towns? Sleep at the lovely, super-dog-friendly Edelweiss Lodge, in Mammoth Lakes.


A seaside haven, Cambria opens its sandy arms to the canine set. Cambria is home to a very popular dog park, but if you like more space, head to the 440-acre Fiscalini Ranch Preserve, where dogs can trot around off-leash along one mile of heavenly oceanfront.

Big Bear Lake

The lakeside mountain resort community Big Bear Lake in southern San Bernardino County boasts crisp, clean alpine air year-round — a real boon in these parts. You and your dog can hike, swim, rent a boat and ride right behind horse heinies on a Bear Valley Stage Lines stagecoach. Dog-friendly lodgings abound. Try Big Bear Frontier Cabins & Hotel , right on the lake, or Golden Bear Cottages, where each cute, pet-friendly cabin sports its own little fenced yard.

Maria Goodavage

Maria Goodavage

Maria Goodavage is the author of The Dog Lover's Companion to California and The Dog Lover's Companion to the San Francisco Bay Area (both from Avalon). She lives in Northern California.

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