WOW! What a magical trip this has been. Truly, one of the best road trips I have ever taken.
Over the past 18 years of living in Los Angeles, I had never really taken the time to discover the beauty that California has to offer. So when I finally decided to make the time to see it, I chose to take my dog as my co-pilot. And what a wonderful decision that turned out to be!
We experienced every kind of ecosystem California has to offer–ocean, forest, prairie, city, and dessert–and even had a chance to spend some quality time with dear friends along the way. While our trip itinerary changed a bit throughout our journey (you can’t plan for everything), we never ran into any obstacles when it came to Harvey joining me on my adventures. Extremely grateful for that!
So if you are considering hitting the open roads of Cali, I highly recommend traveling with your furry companions (with the proper research of course). Here’s how our trip went:
We started our trip with a quick stop in Santa Barbara. A cappuccino and a beach romp were the perfect way to get this road trip started!
DOG FRIENDLY TIP: If you and your pup make it to the beach, be sure to bring a towel with you to dry off. A wet pup on a long road trip is no fun…for anyone.
I had never been to Pismo Beach before, but had a feeling I would love it. And, as usual, I was correct. This sleepy beach town was the perfect location to spend an afternoon playing in the sand and getting cozy by the fire. We stayed at the absolutely adorable Cottage Inn along Highway 1. Upon arrival, we were gifted some dog treats and dog brush (which came in handy along our travels), as well as some sweet swan-shaped towels. Perfect! And after a long day of running on the beach, the toasty fireplace and a glass of wine were the perfect way to unwind.
DOG FRIENDLY TIP: If your dog-friendly hotel doesn’t provide you with a brush like mine so graciously did, be sure to pack one. Sand is sure to get stuck everywhere on your dog and you will want to brush that off before heading back to your sand-free hotel room.
I was told by all of my friends that Big Sur was a “must” on my road trip. Not part of the original itinerary, I decided to go a bit rogue and make a stop…and boy am I glad I did. This forest-by-the-coast is absolutely gorgeous and the drive up Highway 1 ain’t too shabby either. All in all, a magnificent detour.
DOG FRIENDLY TIP: There are only a few dog-friendly restaurants along the Highway 1 drive, so be sure to call in advance to make sure you and your buddy have a place to eat.
San Francisco has a very special place in my heart. So in order to spend as much time as I could in this beautiful city, I decided to skip over the Santa Cruz day trip and head straight into SF. With only a day to enjoy all this Nor Cal metropolis has to offer, Harvey and I set upon a whirlwind tour. From the Presidio and Baker Beach, to several dog-friendly parks and Fisherman’s Wharf (we stayed at the Sheraton down there), Harvey has officially become a quintessential city boy. To end our time up north, we headed over to the charming Sausalito to visit a dear friend for dinner and a night’s rest. All in all, a splendid 24 hours!
DOG FRIENDLY TIP: SF is very dog-friendly, so be prepared to run into other dogs. If your dog is a little on the aggressive or fearful side, be prepared.
We woke up the next morning eager to get to the Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite that we decided to skip over the wine country (we’d had enough wine between Pismo and SF anyways!) The journey to Yosemite was absolutely breathtaking. Never having been to the park, I had no idea what to expect, but as soon as we entered those wooden Yosemite gates, I truly could not stop snapping pictures (457 to be exact…I did a bit of editing for your sake). The park is truly captivating and I wish I had more than a couple of hours to explore.
DOG FRIENDLY TIP: The great outdoors surround you in Yosemite (obviously), so make sure that your pup has taken their heart worm and flea and tick medication prior to romping around.
I’ll be honest, the actual Sequoia National Forest was a little underwhelming (not to mention, extremely confusing to get to. Thanks a lot iPhone map!). But the road we chose to take was absolutely gorgeous. Throughout the 20 mile drive into the park, you are flanked by fields of flowing prairie grasses of the most vibrant gold hue. As you all know, Harvey can’t resist a delicious breeze, so we took our time along this winding road to enjoy some of the sweet wind.
DOG FRIENDLY TIP: The road into the park is quite curvy, so make sure to secure your dog into their seat or they will be in for a crazy ride.
Overall, this trip was simply magnificent, full of memorable and magical moments. Harvey made for the perfect travel companion, never complaining about the long hours in the car or the need to go pee (although we made plenty of stops just for him). Thanks to everyone who recommended spots for our journey and followed along with us! You can see some of the other photo out takes from our trip on our Instagram.
Here’s to our next journey….perhaps we take on Europe!
Steph + Harvey