Vacations are better when all members of the family get to go, even the four-legged ones. And for those in search of a destination that will welcome and entertain your canine companion with open paws, Santa Barbara is the perfect spot. From beaches, parks, and trails, to dog-friendly cafes and even wine tasting rooms, there are plenty of activities for you and your pup to enjoy together.
Please note that during COVID-19, some pet policies have been modified with the public’s health and safety in mind. For example, many wineries that allow dogs are requiring that the dog remain on leash and at your reserved table the entire time. Please confirm pet-friendly accommodations and reservations in advance.
Room and Board
First and foremost, you’ll need a place to stay that rolls out the red carpet for your furry friend, and Santa Barbara has many options. If you prefer to be near the water, the Spanish-style Hotel Milo is a good bet. It’s across from West Beach between Stearns Wharf and the Santa Barbara Harbor, making it easy to enjoy early-morning strolls. Also near the waterfront and at the edge of Santa Barbara’s trendy Funk Zone neighborhood is the hip Hotel Indigo. The luxury Canary Santa Barbara, which doesn’t charge extra for four-legged guests, is steps from State Street’s vibrant shopping and dining area.
If you are engaging in activities that don’t allow dogs, don’t be shy about taking advantage of our trusted doggie daycare and boarding facilities. Camp Canine is a “resort and spa,” offering day camp, overnight boarding, training and grooming services. Dioji is another dog daycare and boarding facility popular with local residents for its cage-free athletic club and well-stocked K-9 supply shop. You can also treat your pup to inspiring wide open spaces with a stay at SAM’s Doggie Dude Ranch on a 300-acre cattle ranch north of Goleta on the Gaviota Coast.
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Dine & Dish
With ideal weather nearly year-round, Santa Barbara is full of places to eat al fresco. Many of these—from fine dining establishments like Louie’s California Bistro in the Victorian Upham Hotel and State Street’s Arigato Sushi, to the Funk Zone’s Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company—are happy to accommodate pups in their outdoor seating areas. Not to mention, The Brewhouse even has a specific menu just for dogs, including steak bites, chicken strips, and frozen marrow bone.
Your pup can even join you at romantic special occasion spots like Tre Lune, an intimate Italian restaurant on Coast Village Road. A couple other pet-friendly spots in tony Montecito are The Stonehouse and Plow & Angel eateries at the iconic celebrity hideaway, San Ysidro Ranch. If you’re seeking coastal ambiance with equal star-spotting potential, Malibu Farm at Rosewood Miramar Beach is another solid option.
In the Funk Zone, The Lark and Loquita are dinner-only local hot spots that welcome dogs on leash in their attractive outdoor dining spaces. Nearby Goat Tree at the Hotel Californian is a pet-friendly spot for casual daytime fare. Up in the Riviera neighborhood overlooking the city and the sea, The Dining Room and Terrace Restaurant at Belmond El Encanto has one of the best views in town.
Sand and Surf
There’s no place that better approximates heaven in a dog’s mind than the beach. Of the three-dozen beaches in Santa Barbara and surrounding communities, there are three beaches that provide off-leash freedom—Arroyo Burro Beach, Shoreline State Park, and Thousand Steps. Bordered by dramatic bluffs, Arroyo Burro, also called Hendry’s, is wide and flat, giving dogs free rein to play fetch and splash in the waves. There’s a dog-washing station by the parking lot, and the upscale Boathouse seaside restaurant has a heated, dog-friendly patio.
Other popular beaches, like Butterfly and Summerland, allow dogs, but they must be on leash. While the two beaches closest to downtown Santa Barbara—East Beach and West Beach—do not permit dogs on the sand, you can stroll the paved coastal trail that runs between the beaches and Cabrillo Boulevard.
Parks and Recreation
Hounds are allowed on leash in all but one city park, but if off-leash freedom is what you’re after, the Douglas Family Preserve is the place to go. It’s a well-maintained, 70-acre property with hiking trails and stunning views. It is on a steep bluff, so be careful if your dog likes to wander.
To avoid the cliffs, head to Tucker’s Grove Park a little north of Santa Barbara. This is a great spot for dogs because it’s fenced in and has a lot of shade. The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is another pleasant spot for you and your on-leash pooch. It features five and half miles of paths through an authentic Japanese tea garden, a redwood grove, and more.
If you are a frequent visitor to Santa Barbara, Elings Park offers an annual membership that allows your pooch to be off-leash and have access to 230 acres of beautiful land and open park space. Members are welcome to explore any part of the park that is not booked for a special event and enjoy complimentary parking on weekends.
Paws on the Ground
A favorite trail among locals, especially runners and mountain bikers, is the 4-mile trail to Inspiration Point. Dogs are welcome to make the trek up to join you for the epic views. Up the coast in Goleta, Coal Oil Point Trail is a scenic 1.5-mile hike near UC Santa Barbara. Dogs are permitted on the bluffs and beach but should avoid the protected dunes.
Wine and Dogs—The Perfect Pairing
A visit to Santa Barbara would be incomplete without indulging in Santa Barbara’s award-winning wines, and many of the urban tasting rooms are happy to let you enjoy their harvest with Fido by your side. In the Funk Zone, you can kick back on Santa Barbara Winery’s charming outdoor patio, check out Kunin Winery just a few blocks from the beach, or visit Municipal Winemakers located in a former dive shop. Dogs are also welcome at Jamie Slone Wines in the historic El Paseo outdoor shopping plaza. They specialize in small-production, handcrafted wines and have a fenced-in, open-air tasting room. Also in El Paseo is the tasting room for Grassini Family Vineyards, which has water bowls and treats for visiting mutts.
Pints & Pups
Beer lovers can also sip suds with pups in tow at the Funk Zone’s Lama Dog Tap Room, Brass Bear, Topa Topa, and Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. On State Street, Modern Times Academy of Recreational Sciences, The Cruisery, and Night Lizard Brewing Company are fido friendly. Over on the Haley Street Corridor in The Mill complex, hit Third Window Brewing Co. with your furry companions.
In Santa Barbara, you can even go sailing with your pooch. Sunset Kidd welcomes dogs onboard its 41-foot touring yacht any time, any day. Their cruises are limited to 15 people, and you’ll have a chance to see a variety of marine wildlife. If your dog doesn’t have sea legs, take a self-guided stroll with your pup in tow along the Red Tile Walking Tour, where you’ll see the quintessential features of Santa Barbara’s Spanish architecture.
Final Tips: Packing for Your Pooch
Smart planning and packing will go a long way in ensuring happy travels for you and your dog. Be sure to include the following on your packing list:
A Crate: Most hotels require that dogs unattended in rooms be crated. It’s also safer for pets to be in a crate while traveling in the car, and it’s a place where most dogs feel secure.
A Leash: Don’t forget a leash, and preferably two, with one to leave in the car.
Food & Bowls: While some hotels and restaurants have bowls, don’t assume they all will. Portion out enough food for the number of days you’ll be gone and pack some treats for the road. For hiking trips, remember to bring water; there are water bottles and collapsible bowls specially designed for dogs on the go.
Poop Bags: Even though many trails and beaches have bags, you should be ready for cleanup duty anywhere and at any time.
Toys: If your dog has a favorite toy, bring it, and if you intend to hit one of the off-leash beaches, don’t forget balls and Frisbees.
Old Towels: Keep extra towels in your car, so you can clean up and dry off Fido after a day at the beach or on the trails.