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Wintertime is Prime Time in California’s Southern Latitudes

Sip and Snuggle Under a Palm Tree

If your vision of a wintertime vacation to the California desert includes comfy lodging along with purple mountains, warm weather, exotic flora, and an endless menu of dog-friendly things to do, you’ll hit the jackpot with Greater Palm Springs. The region hugging the Interstate 10 corridor cuts through five counties and encompasses not just the celebrity-saturated city of Palm Springs, but seven neighboring communities, as well.

Many lodging properties, from luxe places like Miramonte Resort & Spa in Indian Wells, La Quinta Resort & Club, and Parker Palm Springs, are head-over-heels in puppy love with visitors who check in with their furry pals. Retro-chic motels like the desert-modern Ace Hotel & Swim Club, the tiki-themed Caliente Tropics, or the Old Hollywood-styled Riviera Palm Springs provide other options. On a budget? All the usual dog-friendly motel chains also are represented.

Dog-friendly patio dining is available almost everywhere in GPS, but you’ll want to build up an exercise-generated appetite before indulging. For a fun and educational activity you can enjoy with your four-legged friend, head to Moorten Botanical Garden, where the two of you can stroll around a “living museum of desert lore” and admire more than 3,000 desert plants plus dinosaur fossils and petrified trees. The Palm Springs Museum Trail, rising above the Palm Springs Art Museum, tempts seasoned hikers with a 1.5-mile climb to a summit offering sweeping views of the Coachella Valley.

Another moderate-grade path is the North Lykken Trail, which intersects with the Museum Trail. Heading in the opposite direction is the South Lykken Trail, providing excellent views into Tahquitz Canyon. And local favorites don’t stop there: The Whitewater Canyon Loop is rated easy but gets you up close and personal with desert landscapes, while the Homestead Trail with sweeping views of the Coachella Valley as you trek to a lighted cross on top of a hill.

Many more suggestions for enjoying the Greater Palm Springs region with your four-legged companions can be found on

Lose the Leash In Huntington Beach

So you’re headed “down south” with your best furry friend, visions of leash-free beach romps dancing in your head. The place to go: dog-centric Huntington Beach — aka Surf City USA. The star attraction: “Dog Beach,” a 1.5-mile stretch of sand off Highway 1 between Goldenwest and Seaport streets where dogs are allowed to run free.

You’re sure to have a Beach Boys sound track playing in your head (if not on your phone) as you and your pup cavort with scores of other human and canine visitors any day of the week. On Monday nights, after you shake the sand off your flip-flops and towel-dry Lucky’s paws, head to Doggie Date Night at Fred’s Mexican Café, where guests with tails eat free when their human orders an entrée. The Park Bench Café also offers canine cuisine, along with dog-friendly seating at picnic tables in the adjacent, 350-acre Huntington Central Park.

When it comes to dog-friendly places to stay, you and your pup can lay heads and paws at more than a dozen pet-welcoming properties. Score extra points by choosing one of four oceanfront resorts (Kimpton Shorebreak, Waterfront Beach Resort, Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach or Pasea Hotel & Spa) in the HB Collection. All are within walking distance to downtown shopping and restaurants, and all offer special packages for dogs accompanied by their people.

Many dog-centric special events are held in HB throughout the year, from surf contests in early fall to Corgi Nation Beach Days in the spring. Check for a current calendar, and for many more suggestions of places to stay and things to do.

 Janet Fullwood is a senior editor and writer for


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Main article photo by: Photo by istock/nortonrsx