Northern California: Pet Friendly Mendocino

dog standing on rocking chair during sunset

A Pet Friendly Weekend on the California Coast

For our second trip to Mendocino, we were lucky enough to be invited to stay at the Little River Inn with the dogs. Mendocino County combines coastline, with redwood forests, and wine country for a perfect weekend getaway. Now that we’ve been able to fully explore the area, we put together a guide to our favorite pet friendly activities throughout Mendocino County.

dog wearing sunflower bandana sitting on porch

two retriever dogs with sunflower bandanas

Getting to Mendocino from San Francisco

Mendocino is the perfect weekend trip for anyone in Northern California. It is also a great stop for anyone driving up or down the coast to the Pacific Northwest. The town of Mendocino is located on the coast but the county has everything from wine tasting, hiking trails, to water sports.

If you are coming from San Francisco, be sure to leave before the start of Friday afternoon traffic. Without traffic, you can get to Mendocino from San Francisco in about 3.5 hours. If you leave early enough you will get to fully enjoy sunset over the coast when you arrive – We made the mistake of leaving during traffic on our first visit and missed the beautiful sunset drive. For our second trip, we did not make the same mistake and the trip was much more enjoyable.

little river inn mendocino ocean view

little river in mendocino ocean view room

Accommodations in Mendocino with your Pet

To get the most of your Mendocino experience, we recommend staying on the coast. The Little River Inn has a variety of pet friendly ocean front rooms to choose from – Being able to wake up to the sound of the ocean and drink morning coffee on the balcony allowed us to get the full Mendocino experience.

Besides the ocean view, our room had a fireplace, balcony, jacuzzi tub, king bed, and plenty of room for the dogs to zoom around. Explore all the available rooms here to find your perfect match.

Not only are the ocean views breathtaking from the rooms, but the food at the Inn was top notch from 5 star chef Marc Dym. We were able to enjoy breakfast from our ocean front balcony – hotcakes, eggs benny, and fresh OJ (it was amazing). For dinner, The oysters and fried calamari were spectacular. As an added bonus, there is a pet friendly dining area for breakfast and dinner with advance reservation. We will definitely be bringing out parents here next time we visit Mendocino.

dog with plaid bandana

two dogs wearing bandanas

dog wearing sunflower bandana at sunset

two retrievers wearing sunflower bandanas at sunset

two dogs wearing bandanas at sunset

When to Visit Mendocino with your Dog

Because Mendocino weather does not vary much throughout the year, it is always a good time to visit Mendocino with your dog. Dress in layers as the ocean pulls in a cool breeze throughout the day and the temperatures drop at night. You’ll dress lightly during the day, but will be bundled up in sweaters at night.

Map of Pet Friendly activities in Mendocino, California

Take your dog canoeing down Big River

Canoeing down Big River is a MUST when visiting Mendocino with your dog. Catch a Canoe & Bicycles Too offers Canoes, Kayaks, SUPs, and bicycle rentals. If you are interested in biking, the 10 mile Big River bike trail begins at the facility. The most unique part about renting a canoe with Catch a Canoe is the “Canine Cruiser” which is designed specially for stability. These are the only human powered boats in the world that are specifically made for pets! Even with Calvin running around on it, we stayed dry and stable.

Calvin was so excited to get into the canoe that it took our full strength to keep him from jumping over the dock and into the water. Be sure to allow your dog to take breaks from swimming – On the other hand, Samson was happy to relax and enjoy the breeze.

As you canoe down the calm Big River Estuary, it is not uncommon to see harbor seals bathing on the shores and river otters playing in the water. We saw at least 10 harbor seals bobbing in the water. Don’t miss out on this unique experience in Mendocino.

canoe on river

dog in canoe looking up at camera

golden retriever sitting on canoe

dog looking out of canoe

yellow labrador wearing a red life vest perching off of a canoe on a river

Ride the Pet Friendly Skunk Train through the Redwoods of Fort Bragg

The Skunk Train is a best way to experience the Mendocino redwoods without having to break sweat on a hike. The pet friendly train leaves from Fort Bragg and travels for a 7 mile, one hour, round trip through the historical landscape of northern California. The experience felt AND looked like what you’d expect on a real life Hogwarts Express (minus the wizards). The dogs loved the breeze on the outdoor railcar and they all got plenty of attention from fellow passengers.  Before your visit, check out the seasonal activities like the Magical Christmas rides and Pumpkin Express.

golden retriever wearing a green toggle button sweater

golden retriever wearing a green sweater sitting on a train car seat

golden retriever sitting in a train

golden retriever dog on the fort bragg skunk train

Relax with some wine at Maple Creek Winery

The highway 128 route to Mendocino from San Francisco winds through the hills of wine country. We stopped by  “Artevino” Maple Creek Winery for a signature wine tasting. We sat with the wine maker for over an hour, learning about the history of the vineyard. Tom & his staff were so welcoming and stick true to their motto “enter as strangers, leave as friends”.

golden retriever at maple creek winery

three wine bottles at maple creek winery

dog sitting on red chair

Check out the Beaches

The “Glass” Beach at Fort Bragg
The glass beach was the most heavily trafficked part of Fort Bragg, but frankly did not live up to its expectation as a “glass” beach. We’ve chosen to include the Glass Beach here since it is a neat spot to check out after the Skunk Train in Fort Bragg. The disclaimer to add is that the shores are no longer lined with beautiful sea glass as they have historically. The smooth glass that is found washed up on the beach is a result of extensive dumping of trash into the ocean in the 20th century. Today, only small pieces of glass are still visible if you look closely enough – mostly in whites, greens, and browns. It was a fun search to collect the pieces of smooth glass, but definitely underwhelming and disappointing. Dogs are welcome on the beach but must be kept on leash.

sea glass

glass beach at fort bragg

Off Leash Big River Beach
The Big River Beach is located directly across from the Catch a Canoe rental facility. It’s a great place to visit after or before canoeing. The beach is relatively abandoned except for some dogs chasing frisbees and swimming in the gentle tides. The water is perfect for swimming as it’s right at the beginning of the estuary so it is clean but there are no waves.

Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens

The pet friendly Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens are a great way to enjoy beautiful flowers and ocean views all on one visit. We spent about 2 hours following the loop through the flower gardens and open fields to the coastal trail. We found the walk a lot more tranquil than we expected – we found our way to different gardens and sat on benches to enjoy the fresh air in each other’s presence. The gardens are scenic, inviting, and truly a hidden gem of Mendocino. The best part – the gardens are entirely dog friendly!

mendocino botanical gardens

Walk along the Mendocino Headlands Trail

The Mendocino Headlands trail is a 4 mile out and back stroll located along the coastal bluffs of the town. Even if you do not complete the entire trail, this is a great way to take in the coastal views. The trail follows the coast with the sounds of waves crashing below. The trail is overgrown at some parts, but we just trudged through without difficulty. The trail is best paired prior to or following a walk through town – we loved stopping into the cute shops and coffee bars.

mendocino headlands trail view of the ocean

pacific ocean from mendocino headlands trail

NorCALis CALling,
Your Pal CAL

Guide to Pet Friendly Activities in Seattle with your Dog

 golden retriever dog sitting in front of the seattle washington gum wall in post alley. He is wearing a bandana with bicycles on it

How to see Seattle with your dog in TWO days

Weekend Seattle trip with your dog? No problem. Find the best places to have fun in Seattle with your dog even if you are only visiting for the weekend. There are more than 20 dog parks within the Seattle Metropolitan area and countless off-leash dog trails through the forest. Most restaurants in Seattle have pet friendly patios where you and your pet will be treated like royalty. Even better yet, dogs are allowed on the bus, seaplanes, and boats throughout Seattle! From city adventures to nature, the Space Needle City will welcome your dog with open arms. We finally checked the fido friendly Seattle off our bucket list with a super quick trip. We were able to see the greatest sights but will be back for more in the years to come.

The best time of year to visit Seattle with your dog

As always, we recommend visiting the Pacific Northwest in the late spring and summer. The temperatures do not get too hot so you your dog will stay safe and the weather is generally sunny. It can be difficult to enjoy pet friendly cities during rainy winter months so we visited Seattle with our dog in August. The weather was perfect for being outside – sunny 76 degrees with a slight breeze.

Accommodations in Seattle with your dog

We wanted to stay in downtown Seattle so we could walk along the water and through Pike Place in the morning. We stayed at the Pet Friendly Kimpton Hotel Monaco. We had previously stayed at the Kimpton in Portland with our dog and had just as wonderful service this time around. The hotel allows dogs to stay free of charge without a pet cleaning fee. We got a free upgrade, were greeted with smiles and coffee each morning and found plenty of street parking around the hotel. Parking in Seattle was GREAT and easy (something we are not used to).

Map of Dog Friendly Activities in Seattle

golden retriever in front of pike place seattle market sign

Dog friendly activities in Seattle

The Pacific Northwest is known for its laid back, pet friendly cities and Seattle was no exception. We split up our time among different neighborhoods to take in the sights and vibes. We’ve organized this travel blog in order of our favorite activities by neighborhood. We arrived in Seattle from San Francisco on Friday evening, and left on Sunday night – this left us with less than 2 full days to visit so we tried to focus on the must see areas. Here’s how you can see Seattle with your dog in two days…..


Dinner in the the Hip & Artsy Capitol Hill 

We hopped off the plane at the Sea-Tac airport, grabbed our rental car and drove about 25 minutes into Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. The neighborhood is known for its laid back vibes, artsy feel, and hip dining. This neighborhood is the LGBTQ epicenter of Seattle and a great place for nightlife. We enjoyed walking through the neighborhood to find a place to eat – unsurprisingly, most establishments were crowded on Friday night. We passed by the famous Salt & Straw ice cream (for dessert), and a Cat Cafe (with real cats!). Samson admired the cats through the window and we found an outdoor Mexican Restaurant for some tacos. We had plenty of dog friendly dining options to choose from in Capitol Hill so we recommend walking around to choose a place for your taste.

Catch some Coronas at the Barking Dog Ale House or the Voff Bark & Brew

We aren’t really into nightlife, but if there’s “Dog” in the name, we are THERE. The two famous pet friendly bars in Seattle are the Barking Dog Ale House or the Voff Bark & Brew.

The Barking Dog Ale House is off the beaten path and most known for its unique and rotating selection of beers on tap. They have a standard selection of bar snacks with a solid American style dinner menu. Dogs are no longer allowed inside but there is an outdoor patio with full service!

Voff Bark & Brew is essentially a bar in a dog park and therefore introduces the potential of issues with aggressive dogs. The bar owners are very strict in not allowing out of control, loud dogs into the bar and outdoor area.  Dogs are allowed to play off leash and socialize with each other while humans enjoy their drinks. We did not visit as we choose to stay away from dog parks. We did see lots of great reviews online so it may be worth checking out as long as the risks are clear.


Get an early morning start at Pike Place Market & The Gum Wall

We got an early start to our day around 8am and found the waterfront and Pike Place Market already bustling with activity. We strolled along the waterfront to the Seattle Great Wheel then walked 10 minutes to the Pike Place Market. Dogs are not allowed inside the market but there are still plenty of shops to walk by along Pike Place. Check out the Original Starbucks (order ahead), Piroshky Piroshky, and Beecher’s Handmade Cheese.

The Gum Wall came next and took us a few moments to find – when in doubt, ask around. The best way to access the Gum Wall is at the corner of the market where Pike Place meets Pike St. Head down the stairs at the gold statue of the pig called “Rachel the Piggy Bank.”  The stair case looks grungy but leads tourists to the gum wall (equally gross, but awesome to see).

seattle public market sign at pike place

seattle post alley sign at pike place

fish at pike place market

berries at pike place market

golden retriever in front of seattle gum wall

Brunch with your dog at Norm’s Eatery and then check out Gasworks Park

Norm’s Eatery in Seattle may be one of the most dogified places we have ever visited – the food was great too! The speakeasy style bar has indoor and outdoor sections and is decorated entirely with dog memorabilia. Dog paintings, dog figurines, dog statues, dog beers, dog menus….everything dog is found at Norm’s. Even the bathrooms are dog themed.

We ate at Norm’s and then drove to the nearby Gasworks Park for views of the city. The actual Gasworks Park is nothing special and dogs must be kept on leash. The main reason to go to the park is for the best views of downtown Seattle. We made a quick stop, took in the views, then headed to Old Ballard.


dog signs at norms eatery in seattle

picture of labrador retriever puppies on a bench

dog menu at norms eatery in seattle

dog in front of seattle skyline at gasworks park

seattle skyline from gasworks park

retriever wearing a bandana in front of the puget sound

Take your dog to the Botanical Gardens & Old Ballard

Dogs are allowed on leash at the Carl English Botanical Garden. The garden was flowing with live music and the landscaping was beautiful. Walking through the garden leads to the Ballard Locks, a complex set of machinery that allows Boats to pass through areas of water that are at different levels. Even as an adult, I was mesmerized by the process – the nontrivial operation is run by US Army Corp Engineers. As boats enter through one side, they are locked into a waiting area as the water level changes to match the water on the other side. During salmon season, find the fish ladder to watch the Salmon jump out of the water against the current. We watched one lock switch and then headed to explore the Old Ballard neighborhood.

The Old Ballard neighborhood is where history meets trendy. We accessed Old Ballard by turning onto Ballard Ave NW from NW Market St. The neighborhood has a historical vibe paired with boutique shopping, thrifting, hip eateries, and coffee shops. We had outdoor pizza at Stoneburner and then grabbed an ice cream at the famous Salt & Straw. We found the Salt & Straw line to be shorter than any of the San Francisco locations. Although we stopped for pizza, there were countless pet friendly patios throughout Old Ballard. We saw the most dogs sitting on the Ocho patio at the beginning of the neighborhood.

On Sundays year round from 10am-3pm you will find the Old Ballard Farmer’s Market along 22nd Ave NW.

dog in front of yellow daffodils while wearing a sunflower bandana

Head to Discovery Park

Discovery Park is only 13 minutes from Old Ballard. We went to the park 2 hours before sunset to get to the beach front with enough time before dark.

The nicest part of Discovery Park is the West Point Lighthouse and Fort Lawton Beach. Dogs are not officially allowed on the beach (we did see some swimming) but the pathway along the beach is pet friendly. We parked at Discovery Park North Parking Lot since there was a full restroom nearby. Discovery Park South Parking Lot offers direct access to the main “Loop Trail” (unsure about bathroom access).

The trails are clearly marked and the best way to decide which trails to take will depend on your desired level of activity. There are shorter paths and switchbacks and luckily google maps works well throughout the park. We followed the main “Texas Way” paved path until it met the “Loop Trail.” The “Loop Trail” goes through the trees and eventually reaches cliffs over the Puget Sound where it meets the “South Beach Trail”. The “South Beach Trail” leads to the beach and turns into the “North Beach Trail” at the Lighthouse where it eventually gets back to the parking lot via the “Loop Trail”. We chose to take the long way back as the “North Beach Trail” kept us along the water for the longest time. Consider these trails when you visit Discovery Park:

  • Loop Trail
  • South Beach Trail
  • North Beach Trail
  • Hidden Valley Trail
  • Bird Alley
  • Texas Way

golden retriever standing in front of the puget sound during sunset

dog wearing a bandana on a cliff overlooking the puget sound

If you have time, enjoy the Kubota Gardens

Since we spent so much time at Discovery Park, we did not have a chance to see the pet friendly Kubota Gardens. The 20 acre Japanese Garden is advertised as a blend of Japanese styles with Northwest plants.


Sunrise at Magnuson dog beach

The 8.6 acre Magnuson Park Off Leash Dog Area has access to the Dog Beach on Lake Washington. The paths are well maintained and safe for dogs. With enough coffee, the views from the beach are not too shabby to wake up to.

Grab a biscuit in Belltown & walk to the Space Needle

We headed to the famous “Buiscuit Bitch” in Belltown for breakfast. This place was POPULAR! We waited nearly 30 minutes for our food once we ordered, but luckily the neighborhood is wonderful to explore. The Biscuit Bitch is a 10 minute walk to Space Needle Park and a 15 minute walk to the water front Olympic Sculpture Park. For those who like dog parks, there is also a dog park right in front of the restaurant for dogs to blow off some steam while the humans wait for breakfast.

We chose to enjoy a coffee while waiting for our food and managed to grab a table right outside. Afterwards, we waked to the Space Needle Park. Pets are allowed in the park, but not in the Space Needle itself. We were relatively underwhelmed by the Space Needle, but still had a great walk through the park (and another coffee).

biscuit bitch belltown menu

biscuit bitch belltown menu

seattle space needle

dog in front of the seattle space needle

dog in front of the seattle space needle

Stroll through the quiet Washington Park Arboretum

We love strolling through parks whenever we visit a new city. If that isn’t your jam, you can scroll down to the bottom of this post to get some more ideas for activities to do in Seattle. The Washington Park Arboretum is a well manicured green space in the heart of the city. Most of the paths are paved and the park was quiet and away from the crowds. The park is probably more breathtaking when the leaves start to change color for fall.

dog standing in the seattle arboreteum while wearing a bandana

dog standing behind a rock in front of autumn foliage

Bring your Dog to the Seattle Waterfalls or Rattlesnake Ledge

Off Leash Hiking Trails in Seattle are easy to find. If you are willing to travel 45 minutes outside the city, there are plenty of trails to choose from. We chose the off-leash Rattlesnake Ledge trail as a final stop before heading to the airport. The best time to hike Rattlesnake Ledge is at sunrise – we went midday and it was CROWDED all the way up. This 5.1 mile out and back trail is about 1500 ft uphill to the peak but worth the views. Afternoon was the only time that we could fit in this hike but our experience suffered from the crowds on the narrow (and steep) trail. It was impossible to get a peaceful view from the ledge but we got a bit of a view by squeezing ourselves in between the crowds.

Some of the other trails in the area that we didn’t get to try out are the Snow Lake Trail. The 6.4 mile out and back trail leads to a breathtaking lake at the Snoqualmie Pass. Dogs must be kept on leash.

The pet friendly waterfalls near Seattle are also worth checking out:

  • Twin Falls (3.6 miles out and back)
  • Snoqualmie Falls (1.3 miles out and back)
  • Panther Creek Falls (.3 miles out and back)

rattlesnake ledge view of mountains and forests

rattlesnake ledge lake view at the top

golden retriever at the top of rattlesnake ledge hike

dog sitting at the top of rattlesnake ledge

More Pet Friendly activities in Seattle for next time

  • Fremont Sunday Ice Cream Cruise – The Seattle Ice Cream Cruise departs on the house from 11am to 4pm on Sundays year round.
  • Boat rentals at Green Lake Park – The Green Lake Boat Rentals allow humans to rent out Kayaks, SUP, or rowboats with their pets.
  • Kennmore Air Flightseeing Tours – Seaplane tours on Kennmore Air are pet friendly! See their website for routes and prices. Pets are allowed for a fee as long as they are friendly and trained.
  • University Village Outdoor Shopping Center – If you want to shop, the University Village outdoor shopping center is a great place to visit with your dog.
  • Seattle Bakery Treat Truck – Check out a food truck just for your dog! See here for their most current location.


The PNW is Calling, 
-Your Pal Cal