Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Pet friendly hotels beckon these road-tripping dog lovers

Story by Christene Meyers
Photos by Bruce Keller
Cookie and Keller  enjoy sunset. 
    IF THE airlines awarded miles for doggie travel, Nick and Nora would have logged over 50,000 miles each in their action-packed seven years. Mostly, they go where we go, by plane or car. They're happy little road-trippers. So we've started keeping track of the best of the "dog friendly" hotels we've visited recently.
    We estimate that Nick and Nora have bedded down with us in at least 50 hotels, motels and inns, besides their relatives' homes and their auntie and uncle's place in Georgia. Here are a half-dozen places we endorse and recommend, for their personality, dog welcoming spirit and proximity to fun events, scenery and history. Nick and Nora give them paws up!
Nick and Nora atVagabond's House Inn
in Carmel which loves its pet guests.
     * Vagabond's House Inn, Carmel by the Sea, Calif.
Doggies and humans enjoy spectacular Santa Barbara coastline.
     This artfully designed country inn is dog friendly from the get-go.  The charming hostess offers a little neckerchief and a doggie treat for your pet, and there are plenty of other enticements, including sherry or wine in the afternoon on the patio, and wonderful proximity to the village.  In fact, Vagabond's House is right in the center of things, but provides a peaceful oasis with plush and private rooms and a welcoming courtyard.  Thank dog lover Doris Day, longtime Carmel resident, who pioneered the "dogs welcome" spirit.  The lifelong dog advocate and defender lives in Carmel and co-owns a popular inn and eatery, Cypress Inn and Terry's.  Locals credit the "Que Sera" Queen for embuing the town with its contagious, pet-friendly atmosphere.  All throughout Carmel and its marvelous eateries are convenient doggie water bowls, doggie gifts and signs welcoming your pet.  We dined at several excellent eateries and the dogs were welcome to come in and sit under or beside the tables.  We kept ours leashed, and brought a cushion. Some places provide beds or blankets! Good idea to call ahead to make sure your dining choice is indeed dog friendly, but we'd be surprised if not.  Meanwhile, Vagabond's is peaceful, prettily appointed and immaculately bedecked with pots of flowers and well manicured trees.
 A fine choice for dog lovers.  All the dogs we encountered during a several-day stay were well behaved and polite (and so were their owners!)
     * OMNI LOS ANGELES Hotel, Los Angeles, Calif.
Nick enjoys the calming balm of the Omni's grounds and pools in Los Angeles.
  It's a haven for arts-minded travelers, close to theaters and museums.
     This elegant hotel at California Plaza is in the heart of bustling downtown Los Angeles.  So you're right in the middle of the cultural action.  The Omni provides a restful and distinguished four-plus-star diamond resort with plush and serene guest rooms, fine restaurants, a state of the art fitness facility and beautiful landscaping, pool and spa.  We like its proximity and its quiet -- it's just steps from the Music Center and Ahmanson Theatre -- both just a couple blocks away. To sit in one of the many quiet spots to enjoy wine or tea, you'd never know you were in central L.A.  The Omni puts its own spin on "dog friendly" as a cheery hotel host knocks on your door and delivers a little package of treats to your pup!
 THE HOTEL has all the bells, whistles and amenities of any fine upscale hotel but many such hotels still do not welcome doggies.  So bravo, Omni! You're set the barre high!  Nick and Nora love the grounds, which include carefully tended landscaping and a long, relaxing water sculpture with a soothing sound as you stroll by or walk your pup. The Contemporary Art Museum is out the door, too, another enticement.

         * Ashland Springs Hotel, Ashland, Oregon.
Fess Parker's Doubletree Resort
offers ocean views and a
pet friendly ambience.
     This 1925 property is the crown jewel of lodging in southern Oregon.  The former Mark Antony has been beautifully transformed into a small European-style boutique hotel with a friendly staff, Waterstone Spa and Salon and a lovely restaurant, Larks, which specializes in Oregon's bounty of produce -- vegetables, fruits, wine.  All entrees are served with "from scratch" aplomb and a lovely breakfast is included in the room charge.  The Ashland Springs exudes charm, from the display cases of sea shells and stuffed birds as well as world-class drawings of plants and birds.  Ashland is a foodie's town -- from Pangea to Sesame and Martino's. But its greatest pleasures for us are two-fold:  the dog friendly feature and the proximity to Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
  Fess Parker's Doubletree Resort
features artwork and homage to the
late actor's career. He lived in Santa Barbara
many years and his hotel celebrates
a beautiful setting and welcomes
pet lovers. A winery and inn are nearby.
Santa Barbara's gloriousscenery is one enticement to Fess Parker's.
*FESS PARKER'S Doubletree Resort, Santa Barbara.                                                                 
     Fine restaurants, ocean view, museums, history and gardens, this place has it all. Named after the "Daniel Boone" actor who lived in Santa Barbara for many years, the Parker family created a gorgeous first-class hotel which embodies the Doubletree themes: pleasant and beautiful rooms, attentive service and full-service offerings from spa to fitness to dining and special events.  We have stayed several times and are always welcomed with a warm chocolate chip cookie and a pet-friendly room.  The Fess Parker Winery, Inn and Spa are worth a drive.  You'll learn more about the actor, who is lovingly remembered throughout the town known as the "American Riviera."  You can also spend a fun afternoon on a wine-tasting tour of the town, or whale watching.  Santa Barbara meets all of our "must haves" -- chardonnay, pinot noir, beauty and pet-friendliness.  And tip your hat to the actor who made this Doubletree Resort unique.
       * Harrah's Rincon, Valley Center, Calif.
 Harrah's Rincon near Valley Center is a hop, skip and jump
from San Diego and has a lovely, convenient dog-friendly wing.
     The Garden Villa wing of this pretty hotel, about an hour from San Diego, welcomes pets and you can enjoy the restaurants and gaming plus fun hiking and driving options nearby.  We ventured out one afternoon and with help from the concierge, found Hellhole Canyon Preserve. Harrah's is undergoing a major addition and the new tower is going up.  Despite that ambitious construction project, the grounds are kept clean, well landscaped and free of dust.  The Garden wing is prettily kept and you'll run into other dog lovers who have discovered that pup can come along while you play the tables or machines.  The concierge is also helpful in directing you a few miles down the road to beautiful produce stands or Hellhole Canyon Preserve, with its hiking trails and botanical wonders.
Ocean Beach's Ocean Villa Inn welcomes pets and has
special doggie runs with ocean views and Dog Beach.
      * Ocean Villa Inn, San Diego, Calif.
      This hotel is well known in San Diego's Ocean Beach and beyond for its proximity to Dog Beach, where people have come for years to play with and walk their pets.  The Inn's patio rooms face right on the ocean and beach, and there are little doggie runs in each "back yard" so you can sip a cocktail of coffee, watch the waves and let your pet enjoy.  It's an older, well established part of town and a fascinating cactus garden is among the delightful surprises.  You can take a pleasant palm-tree lined walk and socialize with your pet and other pets and dog owners -- lots of doggies in the area -- or you can just enjoy your own little patio and run by yourself, whatever's your pleasure.  Located on Point Loma Blvd., the motel is walking distance or a short drive to several of the legendary eateries and fish places in Ocean Beach. One of our favorites is Nick's at the Pier.
     This motel is a favorite of my Arizona "Zoni" friends who escape the sweltering heat of the, pardon the pun, dog days!
Stearns Wharf in lovely Santa Barbara welcomes Nick and Nora.
     At all of these diverse and pet-welcoming venues, it goes without saying to leash your pet while promenading, and bring a stash of "doggie bags." Savvy dog lovers also rely upon Eileen Barish's wonderful dog friendly books, including "Doin' California with your Pooch." You'll find that some hotels have designated areas and rooms for pups. In other properties, dogs have greater freedom.  It is also common practice to walk your pup frequently and not leave him unattended in the room for long.
     Finally, our doggie carry-along bag includes their toys, treats, sweaters, food and water bowl.   Enjoy your travels with pup.

A weekend road trip yielded this amazing sculpture garden.
Read all about it and its creator this coming Saturday.
  Coming March 16: If you've never experienced Queen Califia's Magical Circle Garden in Kit Karson Park in Escondido, you are in for a mind-blowing treat! We post our adventures Wednesdays and Saturdays. Don't forget to tell your fun-loving friends about:


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