We love sharing stories from people having fun traveling with their pets – especially when they do things a little differently than us! So, when Year of the Monkey duo, Paroma Chakravarty and her pup, Babu, offered to share their experience in California Wine Country we jumped at the chance.
Sharing YOUR pet travel experiences may be just the nudge someone else needs to pack up and head out with their own best friend. If you’re interested in writing a guest post for Take Paws, let us know!
California is the leading producer of new world wines and boasts of a climate which is perfect for those luscious grapes, all the way from Anderson Valley in the north to Santa Barbara in the south. However, the most famous spots in wine country are undoubtedly Napa Valley and Sonoma County – both a reasonable drive from San Francisco and popular weekend getaways for many.
More importantly for dog lovers, wine country is extremely dog friendly so there is no excuse to leave your pooch behind while you have all the fun! In this article, I am sharing our experience traveling to wine country with our furry four-legger, Babu, to the cities of Sebastopol and Calistoga where we had a ton of fun exploring, eating, and wine tasting.
Wine country is known for its pet friendliness, but not every winery and vineyard welcomes dogs. In addition, Napa and Sonoma can be crowded throughout the year, placing a high demand on rooms – especially those that are dog friendly. All that means you’ll need to do your pet friendly research beforehand!
Calistoga is a sleepy little town in the northern most part of Napa Valley, and is best known for its spas. What you may be surprised to find are the many things to do that keep both dog and human engaged. We were only there for a day, but managed to squeeze in quite a few activities.
Our vacation started the moment we checked into the dog friendly Bear Flag Inn, which is surrounded by 3-1/2 acres of vineyards and greenery. The tranquility was just what the doctor ordered to decompress after our drive. We arrived just in time to enjoy wine and appetizers on the porch and then made our way to the huge dog friendly patio at Solbar, the restaurant at the stylish Solage Resort.
After a good night’s sleep and a decadent home-cooked breakfast, we were all charged up and ready to explore the area. If you only have time for one attraction in Calistoga, don’t miss “Little Old Faithful” geyser on Tubbs Lane. This is a cousin to the more famous Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park – but this one is dog friendly! You can sit in the viewing area and watch the geyser erupt at regular intervals, and then stroll the gardens and grounds. The super-friendly goats at the adjoining goat farm will also expect some goat chow, which can be purchased at the visitor center.
Of course, a trip to wine country should involve some wine sampling, and I recommend starting at Dutch Henry Wineries where dogs are welcome in the tasting room. From there, you can find more dog friendly wineries by searching for “Activities” at GoPetFriendly.com or on the Napa Vintners website.
Sebastopol, in Sonoma County, is another dog friendly city that’s just begging for a long weekend’s stay. Located between Santa Rosa and Bodega Bay, this tiny city is packed with great places to eat and wine tasting locations where dogs are welcome. Factor in the excellent hiking options, and this may be your new favorite spot in Wine Country!
Lodging prices can be quite high in Sonoma county, so you may want to consider vacation rentals or camping options. We selected a dog friendly option on Airbnb and loved our stay there. It was convenient to all the activities we were interested in, and was a separate unit, so we had plenty of space and privacy to relax.
Some of the memorable dog friendly places we dined during our visit in were:
You can also grab food and drinks at the newly opened outdoor shopping and dining venue, Barlow, which is a gathering place for locals to have fun and unwind. Wine tasting is also an option there, and we tried Macshail Tasting Lounge, which had outdoor seating and welcomed dogs.
Sebastopol’s most popular dog friendly hiking trails, West County and Joe Rodota, criss-cross and meet the now abandoned Santa Rosa railroad to the north. You can get out for some exercise (dogs must be leashed) and then visit historic Rail Road Square in Santa Rosa where local boutiques and thrift shops tempt passing shoppers. Nearby Howard Regional Park also has dog friendly hiking trails, but keep in mind that the lake there is full of geese and it gets pretty crowded with picnicking families weekends. A better option may be Rangle Ranch Regional Park, which has beautiful trails and an off-leash area where friendly dogs can socialize.
I hope this post has given you plenty of ideas for a long weekend getaway with your pets to California’s Wine Country. For more dog friendly adventures in California, follow my blog!
About the Author: Paroma Chakravarty is a scientist by day, and blogger by night, who lives in the beautiful city of San Francisco with her husband and their 12-year-old Tibetan spaniel mix, Babu. She records their adventures, plus dining experiences and her travel travails, on her blog, yrofthemonkey.com, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. All photos in this post are Paroma’s own.