We just got back from a lovely trip to Mendocino, one of our favorite getaways. It’s spectacular, tranquil, soul-refreshing and best of all, extremely dog friendly.
Here’s a short list of the best doggy fun activities on the Mendocino coast according to my dog Vinnie, a Mendocino-lovin’ mutt if ever there were one.
It was tough narrowing down this list. One of the best things about Mendocino County is the rugged unspoiled beauty that’s everywhere. If you’re a nature lover, a stroll down a country lane will likely become a breathtaking hike for you and a delightful adventure for your dog. Secret beaches abound, many restaurants and cafes welcome dogs, and dog-friendly fun lurks round every bend. That said, here’s Vin’s short list in no particular order:
MacKerricher State Park, Cleone. An enormous park right on the coast with dunes, bluffs, beaches, forest and miles of hiking and horse trails, many of which deposit you on a seemingly endless beach that stretches north for miles. Dramatic ocean views and humbling rock formations may inspire you to hike for hours.
Cowlick’s Handmade Ice Cream, 250 N. Main St., Fort Bragg. A divine local-made ice cream in scrumptious flavors and hefty portions! All dogs get a free dog-size scoop of vanilla!
Mendocino County Botanical Gardens, 18220 North Highway 1, Fort Bragg. These vast gardens are an ever-changing living homage to the diverse flora of Mendocino County. In early spring, towering rhododendrons awe. In summer, the dahlia gardens dazzle. No matter how often you visit, the gardens are always splendid and never the same twice. You can hike though the gardens all the way to coastal bluffs, heavenly ocean views, and whale spouts. Leashed dogs are welcome throughout the gardens and on the trails. The café near the entrance features Cowlick’s Ice Cream and generously dispenses a free vanilla mini-scoop to all doggy visitors.
Mendocino Headlands State Park, Mendocino. Tourists and locals, humans and canines – everyone loves this park. There may be no other park that puts you smack in the middle of two such odd neighbors – the neat fairytale village to the east and ominous rocky arches, crashing waves and the endless Pacific to the west. Miles of trails hug the coastline and are guaranteed to amaze you.
Frankie’s, 44951 Ukiah Street, Mendocino. This cafe has a cute outdoor patio with tables and chairs where humans and dogs can hang out and enjoy fresh organic pizzas, tasty sandwiches, salads, local beers and wines, and sometimes, live music. They serve Cowlick’s ice cream here too! (Notice a theme here?)
Noyo Beach, at the end of North Harbor Drive, Fort Bragg. Locals call this the dog beach because it’s officially leash-free. It’s not the prettiest beach but it’s easily accessible and big. The dogs don’t care that the sand isn’t white and powdery. They love this beach. Vinnie likes to romp down the length of the beach, then hike north/northwest up and over the hill onto coastal bluffs for open ocean views.