California’s central coast is a gem of a beauty tucked midway between San Francisco in the north and Los Angeles in the South. A manna from heaven for wine lovers, nature lovers and dog lovers, it is that slice of the good California life that makes your stop and savor the beauty around you, one sip of wine, one gorgeous Pacific sunset and one bite of the freshest seafood at a time. What better than having San Luis Obispo or SLO, one of its major cities which is inviting to both human and canine, as our next dog friendly travel destination? We spent the New Year at San Luis Obispo (two nights) and also explored the nearby towns dotting the central coast on highway 1 and Paso Robles in the North East along 101, which is famous for its wineries and is considered the best place in California for wine tasting. Here is a lowdown of what we did with Babu to inspire you for your next adventure with your fur baby!
We opted to stay at a dog-friendly Airbnb at San Luis Obispo where the owners had two of their own dogs, a sprightly 12 year old Pomeranian named Fizgig and an adorable, quiet Border Collie and Modela (she indeed was very model like in her fetching looks). We had a room (Feng Shui) to ourselves in that house with a private toilet and the bathroom was just outside our room. Breakfast and coffee were provided upon request and the owners did not charge any cleaning fee. Gus and his wife were tremendously warm and friendly and provided us many valuable suggestions on where to dine with Babu. We had a very comfortable stay on a budget and in case you are not looking to break the bank and have a friendly dog, do try this lodging option out when in San Luis Obispo.
There are many dog-friendly restaurants in San Luis Obispo, all of them welcoming dogs in their patio, which are heated. Barring 31st night were we had pizza to go, we dined at Novo Restaurant and lounge with Babu, had breakfast at Sally Loos in the railroad district and got some yummy acai bowls on Jan 1st at Seeds. Sally Loos does not allow dogs in and so Babu was left in the car, with his blanket and food and the window rolled down. We sat at a table looking out towards the car and had a quick breakfast. Seeds does not have outdoor seating as well and so we got our acai bowls to go to eat inside the car.
A) EXPLORE SAN LUIS OBISPO DOWNTOWN
San Luis Obispo is a typical small Californian town with a vintage feel interspersed with modern sensibilities. There are several cute boutiques many restaurants with al-fresco dining options and many dog-friendly stores and art galleries. The star attractions are the small canal meandering through downtown with a dog-friendly walkway along it, the bubblegum alley and the San Luis Obispo art museum which welcomes canines. There is also a blink and you’ll miss it China town and the Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa after which the city gets it name. The mission has a guided tour of its premises but dogs are not allowed in. We had a good time discovering the different cow statues which were erected as part of Cow Parade in San Luis Obispo county, which is a “moo-ving” art exhibit involving fibre glass statues of cows, each being distinctly different from the other.
B) OUTING AT MORRO BAY
We ventured out of San Luis Obispo and drove northbound along highway 1 to explore the different quaint little towns dotted along the coast, stretching from Pismo beach in the south to San Simeon in the north. Our first stop was the glistening blue waters of the Morro Bay, from wherein jutted out the gigantic Morro rock, one of the nine volcanic rocks (called the “nine sisters”) found in this region. We strolled by the marina and then took a boat ride on the “Tiki boat” which welcomes dogs. As we sailed over the bay we saw raucous, sun bathing sea-lions and caught sight of otters (mom and baby) creating a splash. The tiki boat ride is offered by Bay Cruisers and is only $10/person with well behaved dogs riding free. Babu sat on S’s lap and had a great time exploring the bay with us. We also got about 10 min on a sandy beach on one end of the bay to stretch our legs.
C) LUNCH AT CAMBRIA
The artsy town of Cambria, north of Morro Bay is a must stop, if not for its galleries and art stores, then definitely for a bite to eat at Robin’s restaurant, voted one of the best SoCal restaurants not in LA. An extremely popular place as testified by waves of people coming in, it is dog friendly as well with an extensive heated patio and serves global cuisine (Asian inspired) with a Californian flair. Some red wine from Paso Robles and lamb wrap for me, hot chocolate and falafel for S, and we were all set for a lovely meal. Afterwards, we had some spicy mangoes dipped in dark chocolate at a nearby fudge shop and drove northward to San Simeon cove.
D) SUNSET AT SAN SIMEON COVE
We witnessed 2016′s last sunset at San Simeon pier and cove, adjacent to the William Hearst beach. Dog leash laws are strictly enforced on the beach and dogs are not allowed on the pier (bummer) but we had a lot of fun strolling on the white sand and watching the sun go down on us. It was a magical moment, and a time to reflect upon the ups and downs of the past year and how 2017, although scary, still presents new possibilities for us and new destinations waiting to be explored. There is a trail starting from the bluffs on the north end of the cove, which leads to San Simeon point that is at the very tip of the cove.We did not hike at all and simply left after the beautiful sunset to get some dinner.
E) WINE TASTING AT PASO ROBLES
We stopped by Paso Robles on our way back to San Francisco from SLO, hoping to do some wine tasting in one of the many dog friendly wineries up there. Alas, that day being the very first of the year, everything was closed but luckily for us we found a cute wine tasting spot named Lone Madrone specializing in wines with grapes sourced from west Paso vineyards that are dry farmed. I was told that the owner Neil Collins specializes in wine making techniques honed in France (Rhone) and that reflected in the wines that he chose to make here as well, such as the Mourvedre which was part of my pouring. A pouring of 6 wines (mix of whites and reds) cost only $10 (way cheaper than Napa) and well behaved dogs are welcome inside the tasting room.
This, in a nutshell, was the lowdown on our trip to San Luis Obispo. We will definitely make a return trip to Paso Robles with Babu, to show it some more love. Do you have any plans for dog friendly travel this year? I would love to hear from you! Read more of my dog friendly travels here.