Dog Friendly Road Trip: Mendocino to Carmel for 4 Days.

Having spent the majority of my 30 plus years in California, I feel lucky that we live in a place with tolerable weather and gorgeous 840 miles of Pacific coastline. Majority of this is accessible on highway 1 that begins north of Mendocino extending through Orange County in Southern California. To end the year on a high note to what was a challenging year, we took advantage of the 1.5 weeks of holiday time with a little road trip to Mendocino County and Carmel. Over 1000 miles driven and 3 audio books later – we concluded our Pacific Coast mostly dog-friendly road trip last week with our fur baby, Ham. The highlights below. 

Mendocino County

Heritage House

Our little family stayed at the pet-friendly Heritage House Resort on the Mendocino coast line off Highway 1. It’s currently going through a multi-million dollar renovation that was built in 1877 and where the movies, “Same Time Next Year” was shot. It was also one time a base for smuggling operations.

Overall, this 37 acre of land is gorgeous with ocean view from every room. Our personal experience here is sub-par, primarily to construction nearby that interfered with our water for the majority of our stay. In addition to this, although the rooms were updated, the cleaning staff did not do a very good job with cleanliness. We saw spider webs in some corners of the room and dusty areas. They strive for the coveted AAA Diamond Star list but they’ve still got some ways to go. However, for location and gorgeous scenery at a low(er) price, I would return to give them another chance.


Canoeing & Eating

For the next few days, we spent some time in the small town of Mendocino with a little excursion on an outrigger through the Big River with our dog. We made a reservation at Catch-A-Canoe operated within The Stanford Inn, we paddled 3 miles through the Big River State Park where we saw Harbor Seals sunbathing along the path. For pet owners wanting to take their dog everywhere, this is was the highlight of our entire trip. Ham, however, hated it the whole time. She was so scared she almost pushed me off the canoe. Maybe it was intentional but she was able to calm down towards the second half of our time through the Big River.

On the outrigger
Catch-a-Canoe, Big River, Mendocino
Big River, Mendocino

Afterwards, we drove less than 10 miles north to Fort Bragg where we stopped for quick stroll and lunch at Piaci. The next day, on our way south towards Marin County, we had breakfast at Circa 62. Highly recommend but they are only open through 12 PM for breakfast.


Anderson Valley Wine Tasting

It must be easy to grow wine because on the road we saw miles of vineyards along Highway 128 and 101. We stopped at 2 dog-friendly wineries, Navarro and Toulouse, where we bought 8 bottles total to bring home. We especially loved Navarro – they have a dog area where you can let your dog run around.


On the road, Highway 1

Like a dog that loves a car ride, I was in awe driving on the 1 the entire time. The road is long and windy but the beautiful scenery will leave you in glued to the coast for most of the way. We did this for the second part prior to Santa Rosa on our way to Marin county. We stopped by The Bird Cafe in Bodega Bay and a dog-friendly Dillon Beach that took us about 25 minutes detour.

The Bird Cafe, Bodega Bay



We made it to our Airbnb in Seaside where we spent the majority of time in Carmel. This town is so quant and cutesy. Not to mention that they love their pets here. If you haven’t been – make sure you bring your dog to Carmel Beach. It’s probably the best dog beach on the west coast. After lunch in town, we headed over to Carmel Valley for a short hike. We were able to take our dog off-leash at Garland Rach Regional Park.

Dog Heaven
Carmel Dog Friendly Beach
On the trail, Garland Ranch Regional Park



Mendocino > Carmel

  • Take 128 toNavarro and Toulouse Wineries
  • Crossover to 1 Stop by The Bird Cafe in Bodega Bay
  • Continue onto 1 to Dillon Dog Friendly Beach


  • Carmel Dog Friendly Beach
  • Lunch in Carmel-By-The-Sea
  • Garland Ranch Regional Dog Friendly Park
  • Point Lobos (No dogs allowed)

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