Dog friendly Sebastopol: Why visit this town in Sonoma county?
Sebastopol is a small liberal, primarily agrarian community focused city in wine country (Sonoma county) tucked in between Santa Rosa and Bodega Bay. A tiny city packed with great places to eat, lots of wine tasting locations (being in the heart of wine country has its advantages) and a retreat from the hustle bustle of downtown Sonoma and Napa, Sebastopol thus became our destination of choice for the labor day weekend to visit with Babu, our dog. Highly recommended as either a detour en-route to the more well known towns in Sonoma or for exploration on its own (for a day or two), here is a step by step guide to the best places to eat, drink, let your hair down and have fun in dog friendly Sebastopol with even more beautiful people.
Dog friendly hotels/accomodation in Sebastopol
Being only 1.5-2 hrs away by car, it was natural that we would take Babu with us on the trip to Sebastopol.The caveat to it, as it always is, that we started looking pretty late for lodging and as luck would have had it all pet friendly hotels in Sebastopol were booked. Thankfully we found a great dog friendly Airbnb who not only accepted pets but lived on the property and were the most gracious hosts ever! Nancy and Tom (the hosts) are pet parents themselves (doggie Elsa, two cats and several pigeons) and they had set up an excellent place for us and Babu. It was a section of the house completely separated from their main residence and was surrounded by acres of lush green garden with a patio and a fireplace (we city folks were so J seeing so much space around). The unit also has a kitchen, microwave and mini fridge (in case you want to cook) and a grill outside. We were very happy with the arrangements and Babu had a ball sniffing and exploring the garden.
Dog friendly restaurants in Sebastopol
Sebastopol has no dearth of dog friendly restaurants. We were famished upon arrival (around 12 noon or so) and immediately went up to a “Slice of Life”, a renowned vegetarian cafe with plenty of vegan choices in Sebastopol. The food was really good (my favorite tofu scramble was on the menu) but what was life altering was the chai-coconut ice-cream float! Be sure to grab some if you ever visit dog friendly Sebastopol. Next day, we had breakfast at A Hole in the Wall, another popular spot in Sebastopol based on Yelp reviews, but really were not too excited about the food. It was too heavy for breakfast with all its egg and cheese (there were some vegetarian choices but it is definitely a no-no for my vegans). Lunch in Sebastopol was at a charming Mediterranean restaurant named East West Mediterranean cafe with plenty of vegetarian/vegan options . Although there was outdoor seating, dogs were not allowed on the patio for some reason. Thankfully, they had an equally well shaded spot where we kept Babu with plenty of water and chose the table nearest to it. The food and service were impeccable and I had my best thirst quenching homemade lemonade to date there! Dinner was at the Hopmonk Tavern, a great dog friendly restaurant in Sebastopol to get a bite in a beautiful beer garden with live music (dogs are allowed in the garden). The food was eclectic American with some Indian inspired fares such as Hopmonk samosa (more like cross between tempura and wonton) and chicken philly on Naan (we had both plus a salad). Next day started with a late breakfast at Viva Mexicana, the friendliest restaurant possible on earth with the best vegan coconut Horchata and Mexican tofu scramble. Plus we had a great secluded dog-friendly outdoor spot to us. Highly recommend this place for vegans and dog owners if you are visiting Sebastopol.
Dog friendly activities in Sebastopol
The Barlow, a popular outdoor spot for food, wine tasting and shopping is one of the main attractions in Sebastopol and is dog friendly. This open space utilizes a repurposed apple tannery for arts, music, restaurants and other stores in Sebastopol. A very nifty, albeit pricey place to hang out we got some juice, a pie (very expensive again) and then I indulged in some wine tasting as well since doing anything else in wine country would be a travesty.
There are several wine tasting rooms in that single street of the Barlow, but we chose the Macshail Tasting Lounge with proper outdoor seating where people seemed to be having a really good time and the servers seemed pretty attentive. Sriram is a teetotaler but I love me some good reds and this tasting room specializes in just that! Our server, a young guy, was extremely knowledgeable and I had a great time learning about the 6 different Pinot Noirs that I tasted (including a very strong Rosé that knocked me off a bit). The tasting was$ 20 for five but he was generous to let me taste a 6th one since I professed my love for Oregon Pinots! Babu was especially patient through his Mom’s shenanigans with the grapes.
Sebastopol’s most famous hiking trails are perhaps the West County and Joe Rodota trails (dog friendly, need to be on leash) which criss cross and meet the now abandoned Santa Rosa railroad further up. We arrived at the trailhead and were really disappointed to see a paved road meant for bicyclists (my notion was circling more around a romantic scenario of rail tracks and dirt road) and so decided to just drive three miles up the Historic railroad square in Santa Rosa. That was the best decision ever made since the mercury was soaring with a whooping 95 F!
c) Historic railroad square in Santa Rosa
The historic railroad square at Santa Rosa was charming to say the least. The Minnesotan in me leapt with joy when I saw several statues of the popular comics strip Peanuts erected everywhere and soon found out that this was a tribute from the city of Santa Rosa to its creator Charles Schulz. There were quite a few charming stores (thrift, antique and gift stores) in that block along with the Santa Rosa tourist information center, a small park, art galleries and some restaurants.
d) Dog parks
Howard regional park, a short driving distance away from Santa Rosa, was recommended to us by the Santa Rosa tourism office since it has shaded dog friendly hiking trails and a lake. We arrived there only to find a giant picnic area completely occupied by lots of families and major geese feeding at the lake. Lots of people? Not our scene. Scary looking geese? Not Babu’s scene. So a quick walk and we left ASAP for lunch. Post lunch,we drove to Ragle Ranch regional park, which is dog friendly and has an off leash area for non-aggressive dogs to play. Although there is a parking fee since it is a county park, we parked on the adjacent street and that turned out free and fine! We arrived at the park around 6 PM (park is open till sundown) and loved the peace and quiet. We discovered a beautiful trail, hiked quite a bit and then started our return, only to stop and take in the beauty of the woods in the golden light of the dusk, not to mention a quick photo-shoot at a bench with a plaque saying “dogs are not our whole life but make our lives whole”. Sigh! dog lovers are the best! Finally, on our last day, we checked out by noon, stopped at downtown Sebastopol (one street called Main street really), did some quick shopping and bid adieu to the beautiful city which had been our most gracious host for the last three days.
This brings me to the end of this post on dog friendly Sebastopol. Hope you enjoyed reading it and got some good ideas on where to take your pet next! You can follow all our dog friendly adventures here so as not to miss out on any fun.