Dog-friendly Destinations

Each year Bay Woof readers vote for their favorite dog-friendly lodgings in the Beast of the Bay Awards competition.  For our annual travel issue we decided to focus on the top four vote-getters this year and tell you a bit about what makes them so special and beloved by our readers.  Here are four magical places where you and your best friend can be yourselves in complete comfort – just like home, only more relaxing. See the bottom for contact info and web addresses. Happy travels!

Winner: Cypress Inn, Carmel

A boutique hotel in quaint Carmel that welcomes dogs with open arms? Yes! The pet-friendly policies here were put in place 25 years ago when actress Doris Day became a co-owner of the Inn. Today, accommodating dogs is a big part of the Cypress Inn mission. The website announces up front that “pets are an integral part of the family” and this is proven out in the guest experience.

You AND your dog are welcome all over the hotel: in the courtyard of Terry’s Restaurant & Lounge for breakfast (don’t miss the popovers!), at the daily afternoon tea in the living room, and for evening appetizers back in  the Terry’s courtyard at. The restaurant specializes in produce from neighboring Salinas Valley focusing on Mediterranean and Moroccan flavors. And take note sustainability fans: Terry’s was the first restaurant in Carmel to join the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program.

There’s a page at The Cypress Inn website where the “Director of Pet Relations” reveals all sorts of things you can do with your dog in the area, including local yappy hours, pet spas, and off-leash beaches. There’s actually a spot in the hotel courtyard for washing the sand off your pet.
Please let the staff know about your pre-furred companion when you make your reservation (there is a fee for up to 3 dogs).  A bowl of water and bag of treats will greet you upon arrival.
BTW, don’t think all this attention on the dogs detracts from the human guest experience – there will be continental breakfasts, cozy bathrobes, luxury bath products, and complimentary cream sherry so you’ll feel pampered, too.

NOTE: there is an annual Poodle Day in Carmel scheduled this year for September 29, 2012 (registration is already open – see for details).

1st Runner Up: Russian River Getaways, Sonoma County

    The Russian River is a popular destination for relaxing getaways nestled among the redwoods off the Sonoma Coast.  Russian River Getaways manages loads of properties in the area, offering a wide variety of pet-friendly private homes, ranging from intimate cottages for one or two to large estates suitable for up to twenty people, plus assorted canine companions. Here’s a bonus: you won’t have to pay extra fees for your pets like you do at many hotels.

Browsing the Russian River Getaways website, pay attention to which accommodations welcome dogs and read up on the varied amenities for people and pups. There is a long list of activities you can enjoy together in the area, including beach romping, hiking in Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve, sampling the wares at pet-friendly wineries, and a riverfront off-leash dog park.

Want to get out on the Russian River with your dog? The folks at RRG can recommend adventures with dog-experienced companies in either canoes or kayaks. Its website includes all the details, plus a list of dog-welcoming eateries to complete the getaway experience in this unique locale.

2nd Runner Up: Inn at Schoolhouse Creek, Mendocino

Escape with your furry friend to the Inn at Schoolhouse Creek in Mendocino. Not only will you enjoy the magnificent natural beauty of the Northern California coastline, you’ll be greeted with a pet welcome basket including a Frisbee for your dog.  During your stay, you’ll have access to meadow and forest creek trails and, best of all, a private ocean beach a short walk away where your vacationing dog can play off-leash. And, not surprisingly, there’s a spot set aside for you to wash off your dogs after they enjoy their romp.

The Inn can provide a list of restaurants in Mendocino that welcome dogs in their outdoor seating areas, as well as other dog-friendly attractions, like Mendocino Headlands State Park, Friendship Park, and Navarro State Park. Your innkeepers Micki and Scott Matthews want your pets to feel like they are on vacation, too. This place is renowned for its friendliness to both people and pups.

All of the Inn’s cozy rooms and cottages welcome dogs (with a pet fee to cover additional cleaning costs – rooms are sanitized and ionized after each pet visit). Accommodations are spread out over the property and each offers its own charms. There’s a yurt used for spa treatments and various cottages with distinctive themes.

3rd Runner Up: Sheep Dung Estates, Boonville

Once you get past the name, Sheep Dung Estates will win your heart with its little bit of paradise. The Sheep Dung properties, which also include The Other Place and Long Valley, are nestled in the heart of Anderson Valley in Mendocino County, where owners Ann and Aaron Bennett have created a getaway for canines and their people that stretches over 800 acres of gorgeous natural land.

Dogs are warmly welcomed to all of the properties (children too, by the way). The Bennets ask that you bring a sheet to cover the bed and towels to wipe your dog down after you romp and roam in the hills. There are fenced-in acres devoted to safe and secure off-leash play.

This is real country living (watch for ticks and foxtails) and it will blow your city dog’s mind. Deer, rabbits, and wild turkeys abound!

All cottages are fully equipped for your stay with plenty of amenities and great views. Each location is distinctly different, so check out the reviews online and pick the one that’s just right for you and your travel companions. 

Cypress Inn, Carmel
Lincoln & 7th St.
Carmel, CA 93921
Approximately 2 1/2 hours from San Francisco

Russian River Getaways, Sonoma County
14070 Mill St. 
Guerneville, CA 95446
Approximately 2 hours from San Francisco

Inn at Schoolhouse Creek, Mendocino
7051 N. Hwy 1 
Little River, CA 95456
Approximately 3 hours from San Francisco

Sheep Dung Estates, Boonville
14655 California 128
Boonville, CA 95415
Approximately 2 1/2 hours from San Francisco