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Dog-Friendly Getaway on Week 10 of Summer

Explore the dog-friendly side of Santa Barbara
Explore the dog-friendly side of Santa Barbara
Photo by David McNew/Getty Images

Labor Day – the unofficial end of summer and the last official holiday until November. It’s the 3 day weekend everyone looks forward to and a great opportunity for a quick getaway. After all, Labor Day is meant for you to take a load off from work and enjoy yourself. So why not indulge and enjoy the weekend with your dog?

This Labor Day weekend, take a short trip north, to the beautiful city of Santa Barbara. This coastal town will help you escape a bit of the heat we’ve been feeling here.

First, you’ll want to secure a place to stay. There are a few hotels that accommodate furry companions:

Santa Barbara has a couple of luxury resorts that allow dogs, but make no mistake, they are luxury resorts, so you should not be surprised by the expensive price. If you are interested, check out Bacara (for dogs 25 lbs and under) and Four Seasons Resort: The Biltmore Santa Barbara.

Mid-ranged priced places to stay include the Best Western Beachside Inn (which can have lower rates but it isn’t likely on a holiday weekend), Casa Del Mar, Fess Parker’s Double Tree Resort (can be a little on the expensive side but with the size of the resort and dog accommodations, it may be worth it), Pacifica Suites, and the Secret Garden Inn and Cottages.

For those on a budget, there is always a dog-friendly Motel 6 wherever you go, or for a little more rustic charm and experience, check out Rancho Oso Guest Ranch and Stables.

Once you have a place to stay, you’ll want things to do. While many of the beaches in Santa Barbara do not allow dogs, there are designated parks that do – and off leash even.

Douglas Family Preserve is a 70-acre park on a bluff overlooking the ocean. The park has unpaved trails to explore but be sure to keep your dog on leash until you are on the preserve. This park is located off the 101 at the Cabrillo Blvd. exit (drive toward the ocean).

Elings Park is a privately run nonprofit 230-acre park, chalk full of hiking trails, open fields, and beautiful views of the mountains and ocean. This park is typically reserved for those who purchase a yearly permit to use it. But people visiting just for the day are allowed to use the park for free, but only after you check in at the office and show your dog’s license. This park is located off the 101 at the Las Positas exit (drive toward the ocean).

Hendry’s Beach/Arroyo Burro Beach is an off-leash beach for dogs to enjoy. Be careful to stay within the dog beach boundaries though; go too far one way and you may find yourself in no-dog zone, which could land you a ticket. This beach also has a dog washing station so you don’t have to take the beach home with you.

Stroll along Cabrillo Boulevard (which runs along the beach) on Sunday and you might catch the Santa Barbara Arts and Crafts Show. Just be sure not to take your dog down to the beach here, because while your pooch is welcome on the sidewalk, he is not welcome on the sand.

If you wish to see a little more green on your trip, take a stroll through the 65-acre Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. Featuring over 1,000 species of rare and indigenous California plants, this garden is sure to be a delight.

You are sure to work up an appetite after all of that exploring. Unfortunately, Santa Barbara County’s health department put a stop to dogs being allowed to eat on restaurant patios. There are some places that are still willing to serve pooches, you just have to ask around. If you can’t find a place to eat, just get your food to go and enjoy a picnic with your dog elsewhere, or enjoy a quiet dinner together back at your hotel (which might be greatly appreciated after a long day of sniffing and running).

Enjoy a safe and relaxing Labor Day weekend. Afterall, you deserve it!