Travels with dogs: Penny and Jeff -- Alan Solis


As you might suspect, we have traveled with our Shelties through California and across the country along Interstate 40 to Arkansas and back. We have also gone on trips with a dog-walking group we belong to, Society Dog, that have been a lot of fun.

Along the I40 corridor, by far the best dog-friendly hotels we have stayed at are the Drury Inn hotels. They have all been fairly new, clean, and very friendly to dogs. The breakfast buffet in the morning is quite good and very convenient. We have stayed at the Drury Inn in Flagstaff, Albuquerque, Amarillo, and Oklahoma City. We have also stayed at La Quinta with mixed results -- the prices are better than the Drury Inn, but the quality of the hotels seems very inconsistent.

In California, we love to go to Carmel because the beach is leash-free, clean, and generally very nice. We're still exploring places to stay there -- most people try Doris Day's hotel, Cypress Inn which is dog-central in Carmel. We've stayed there twice -- once in a small room, very small, but serviceable, and once in a suite with a balcony. The suite was very nice, but very, very expensive -- probably a once in a lifetime experience for us. But, regardless of where one stays in Carmel, go to the Cypress Inn for happy hour or dinner -- dogs everywhere, and, as you might expect, most are quite well-heeled, as are their owners.

A place to eat in Carmel that we always make sure to go to is La Portabella which is a nice restaurant with indoor seating for dogs and owners.

In Santa Barbara we've enjoyed our stays at the Hotel Mar Monte. But be warned that it's quite difficult to find places to eat with your dogs in Santa Barbara. Even restaurants with outdoor seating generally don't allow dogs to sit with you. They blame the health inspectors in the county.

There is a wonderful leash-free beach in Santa Barbara at the Arroyo Burro park. A description of each of the leash-free parks in Santa Barbara County is given here.

We've stayed in the little town of Carmel Valley, about 12 miles inland from Carmel, at the Carmel Valley Lodge. The room was very clean and nice, the pool was big enough for lap swimming, and it was within easy walking distance of the town along a paved trail. We went to the Carmel beach twice, and we discovered a park, Garland Ranch Regional Park, along Carmel Valley Road, with many trails up the mountains that were leash-free. We went up the "Waterfall Trail" and turned around at a lake in which the dogs were able to wade around and cool off.

Sheepherding! We took the dogs to Petaluma for a sheepherding lesson. Click here for more information and a short flash video of our dogs (and us!) enjoying the experience at the Dairy Dell Doggie Dude Ranch and Training Center.