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Where we’re at: I’m recapping my summer of 2018, which included this trip to California in July. 

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I have a confession to make: after a few days in Santa Barbara, Ian and I had started musing that the dog friendly guide I was there to research would be the easiest post I’d ever had to write. How to travel with your dog in Santa Barbara? “Go to Santa Barbara,” would be the entirety of my first ever four word post, we joked.

Of course, I did decide to flesh things out a bit more. But it’s true that Santa Barbara is the most pet-friendly destination I’ve ever personally traveled to — when we’d stand in the doorway with world’s cutest cocker spaniel Tucker, asking if we could come in, people looked at us like we must be from out of town. Of course we could come in.

Dog Friendly Santa Barbara Travel Guide
Dog Friendly Santa Barbara Travel Guide

If you’re new around here and wondering, wait, where did that insanely adorable pup come from? Here’s the scoop — Tucker was my dog from high school (which means yes, ahem, he is getting up in years.) While my parents split custody of him for years so that I could spend time with him whenever I was in the USA, when my dad moved permanently out to LA, it was only right for his four legged best friend to go with. I of course get to LA whenever I can to see both dad and dog, and try to make it a point to dognap Tuck whenever possible to a little adventure.

Since moving out West, Tucker’s come with me to Palm Springs, San Diego, and now Santa Barbara — we also had a trip to Big Bear planned this past winter that we postponed, but I can’t wait to take him all over California eventually. Honestly though, it’s going to be hard for any destination to top Santa Barbara in terms of rolling out the rover red carpet.

From a bustling dog beach to wag-inducing wineries to hotels with dog beds on loan, Tucker gave Santa Barbara two paws up.

Dog Friendly Santa Barbara Hotels

The Kimpton Goodland

I’ve been dying to stay at the Kimpton Goodland since the first moment I laid eyes on its quirky California aesthetic. While it’s a short drive outside central Santa Barbara in neighboring Goleta, my dad had lent us a convertible and so suddenly a bit of drive became a perk.

With dog treats and a water bowl right from check-in, I knew this would be a breezy stay. Our room came stocked with a pet bed, pet bowls, and a welcome treat from the hotel. And we never once got side-eye while hanging in the communal spaces — the only place dogs aren’t allowed is the pool. Stay tuned for a full Hotel Crush feature on this beachy, laid back and charming hotel.

Dog Friendly Kimpton Goodland Hotel Santa Barbara

Dog Friendly Kimpton Goodland Santa Barbara Hotel

Dog Friendly Kimpton Goodland Hotel Santa Barbara

Hotel Indigo Santa Barbara

We also considered staying downtown at The Hotel Indigo Santa Barbara. I’m a huge fan of the brand and needless to say, love that they allow pets! If you want to ditch your car for the weekend, this is your best bet. There is a fee of $40 per stay and they do have a weight limit of fifty-five pounds, a two pet maximum per room and pets must not be left alone in guest rooms. I’d love to check it out on a return trip.

Dog Friendly Santa Barbara Activities

Douglas Family Preserve Walking Trail

The dog-friendly Douglas Family Preserve was our very first stop on our way into Santa Barbara, and it was so nice to get out and let Tucker run around a bit off-leash after the drive from Los Angeles (which is, in theory at least, ninety minutes — traffic may have other ideas). There are really nicely sign-posted trails indicating which bits of the preserve are off-leash, but please be careful — there are some super steep cliffs that you’ll need to keep a watchful eye around if your pup is the curious type.

We were there on a super foggy day, but on a clear one, the views to the beaches below would be breathtaking. If you’re lucky, you might see hang-gliders launching themselves below.

Cocker Spaniel at Dog Friendly Douglas Family Preserve Hiking Walking TrailSanta Barbara

Cocker Spaniel at Dog Friendly Douglas Family Preserve Hiking Walking Trail Santa Barbara

Arroyo Burro Dog Beach

Called Hendry’s Beach by locals, Arroyo Burro Dog Beach is hands down one of the coolest dog beaches we’ve been to. With the dramatic cliffs behind you and the salty ocean in front of you, it’s a beach paradise for active pups. Well sign-posted off-leash areas and self-serve dog wash stations near the parking lot were great perks, but really the sheer number of fellow dogs was what made it so fun. They were truly everywhere!

The only bummer? The cool waterfront restaurant there is essentially the only place we found in all of Santa Barbara that doesn’t allow dogs.

Cocker Spaniel at Arroyo Burro Beach County Park Dog Beach Santa Barbara

Cocker Spaniel at Arroyo Burro Beach County Park Dog Beach Santa Barbara

The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

We were pleasantly surprised to learn that The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is open to leashed dogs. How cool and unexpected is that? The gardens were founded in 1926 and cover a whopping 78 acres. We did the full loop of over a mile, taking in various gardens dedicated to native California plants, and then finished with the Island View Trail, which boasted views sweeping all the way from the Santa Ynez Mountains to the Santa Barbara Channel Islands.

If you’re lucky enough to be in Santa Barbara in August, keep your eyes peeled for the annual Trails ‘n’ Tails event, in honor of National Dog Day.

Cocker Spaniel at Dog Friendly Santa Barbara Botanic Garden Walking Trail

Dog Friendly Santa Barbara Botanic Garden Walking Trail

And Beyond

Craving more? Here’s a full list of off leash area in country dog parks, beaches, and trails.

Dog Friendly Santa Barbara Wineries

When I fist imagined this trip in my mind, I pictured us frolicking through rural vineyards. Turns out, visiting those involves a lot of driving. Luckily, you really don’t need to go far — there are now twenty-eight wineries on the Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail. The tasting rooms in downtown Santa Barbara are convenient and unique to visit, each with their own flavor. And there’s nothing stuffy about it — these tasting rooms are modern, fun, and playful.

We mostly stuck to wineries in the entertainingly named “Funk Zone,” or nearby. Tastings were generally $10-20, and Ian and I split them since we were hitting so many (plus he’s more into reds, I’m more into whites, so it worked out.) Here were a few of our favorites, all of which welcomed dogs with open arms.

Carr Winery

We popped into Carr Winery before dinner one night, and loved the ambiance of the hangar-like space, filled with wine barrels and wooden surfboards mounted on the walls. Dogs are warmly welcomed on the patio and in the tasting room alike.

Dog Friendly Carr Winery Santa Barbara

Municipal Winemakers

For the clever bottle designs, the funky interiors, and the calendar bursting with arts and crafts events, I could tell Municipal Winemakers would be my local spot if I were a Santa Barbara resident. Grab a board game and settle in for an afternoon of sipping wine with your furry best friend at your feet.

Dog Friendly Municipal Winemakers Santa Barbara

Dog Friendly Municipal Winemakers Santa Barbara

Dog Friendly Municipal Winemakers Santa Barbara

The Valley Project

The epic hand-drawn map of the county’s wine regions is reason enough to stop at The Valley Project for a tasting. The design nerd in me swooned, while the wine lover sipped away, and the dog person glowed at having her pup nearby.

The Valley Project Santa Barbara Dog Friendly Winery
The Valley Project Santa Barbara Dog Friendly Winery

The Valley Project Santa Barbara Dog Friendly Winery

Area 5.1 

Ian generously humored me with a stop at Area 5.1 Winery, a theme I was absolutely tickled by (I definitely see a road trip out to the Extraterrestrial Highway in Nevada in my future someday.) They really went full force on the alien theme, and we all — Tucker included, as you can see — loved it.

Dog Friendly Area 5.1 Winery Santa Barbara
Dog Friendly Area 5.1 Winery Santa Barbara

Fox Wine Co.

Located inside Waterline, a funky warehouse space, Fox Wine Co. gets to call Topa Topa Brewery, The Guilded Table boutique, Lama Dog Tap Room and The Nook Eatery neighbors. I loved this setup, which allowed me to peruse some Santa Barbara souvenirs, wine glass in hand, while Ian and Tucker held down the fort at the bar.

Fox Wine Co. Dog Friendly Winery Santa Barbara

Fox Wine Co. Dog Friendly Winery Santa Barbara
Fox Wine Co. Dog Friendly Winery Santa Barbara

Deep Sea Tasting Room

Certainly the most unique tasting room we visited was Deep Sea, located over the water on Stearns Wharf. I wasn’t sure which I loved more — the chic, recently renovated interiors or the views out on the deck.

Dog Friendly Deep Sea Tasting Room Santa Barbara

Dog Friendly Deep Sea Tasting Room Santa Barbara
Dog Friendly Deep Sea Tasting Room Santa Barbara

Dog Friendly Deep Sea Tasting Room Santa Barbara

Ian had actually packed a surprise for Tucker, a bottle of doggie champagne — Canine Pawrier, to be exact — that the staff at Deep Sea enthusiastically put in a bowl for us. Can’t leave all the wine tasting to the humans, right?

Dog Friendly Deep Sea Tasting Room Santa Barbara
Dog Friendly Deep Sea Tasting Room Santa Barbara

Potek Winery

Our final winery of the trip was Potek, a sleek winery with a lovely outdoor deck, and a brewery and a restaurant in the same facility.

Dog Friendly Potek Winery Santa Barbara

Dog Friendly Potek Winery Santa Barbara

Dog Friendly Potek Winery Santa Barbara

Dog Friendly Potek Winery Santa Barbara
Dog Friendly Potek Winery Santa Barbara

Need more ideas? Check out Visit Santa Barbara’s guide to even more wag friendly wineries!

Dog Friendly Santa Barbara Boutiques

George

Forget an essential? Santa Barbara’s got you covered. While we didn’t really need anything, I couldn’t resist popping into George, a cute little dog boutique on the outskirts of Santa Barbara. The wine bottle-shaped squeaky toys were really what left me swooning.

George Pet Boutique Santa Barbara

Dog wine bottle chew toy at George Pet Boutique Santa Barbara

Dog Friendly Santa Barbara Restaurants

Bibi Ji

Ian’s one major Santa Barbara request was dinner at Bibi Ji, a modern and fun twist on typical Indian fare. At first glance, I didn’t expect it to be dog friendly, but they were more than thrilled to seat us on the patio with our four legged friend. I love that in Santa Barbara, we could have a really similar trip to the one we’d have anyway, but with Tucker along — which just makes anything better.

If you love Indian food, consider the chef’s tasting menu, which concludes with a rainbow of curries and allows you to sample much of the menu’s specialities. While you’re enjoying dessert, reflect on this sweetness — Bibi Ji, an Indian term of endearment for women, pays tribute to the formative women in the founder’s lives.

Bibi Ji Dog Friendly Restaura

Bibi Ji Dog Friendly Restaurant Santa Barbara

Lucky Penny

We stopped for a delicious lunch at Lucky Penny, conveniently located in the midst of the winery-heavy Funk Zone. With outdoor picnic-bench-style seating, dogs are a regular sight underfoot. They specialize in wood-fired pizza, salads and sandwiches, which we washed down with a frosé.

Lucky Penny Dog Friendly Restaurant Santa Barbara

Lama Dog

With a name like that, how could we resist bringing Tucker? Dogs are welcome on the patio at Lama Dog Tap Room +
Bottle Shop, where food is prepared in a converted shipping container. After so much wine, it was refreshing to switch gears for a meal and enjoy a beer and cider.

Dog Friendly Lama Dog Restaurant Santa Barbara

Dog Friendly Lama Dog Restaurant Santa Barbara

Convivo

Once again, Convivo was a place I’d never expect to be able to bring a dog — fine California dining at its best. But the Golden State does things differently. Located at the Santa Barbara Inn, Convivo combines Italian and Mediterranean influences and local ingredients.  We sat on the outdoor terrace, where gas lanterns and a fireplace kept us cozy against the Pacific Ocean breezes. This was absolutely a meal to remember — just check out that charred avocado-turned-sauce bowl!

Dog Friendly Convivo Restaurant Santa Barbara

Dog Friendly Convivo Restaurant Santa Barbara

Backyard Bowls

We grabbed a quick breakfast one morning at Backyard Bowls, which has a few locations in Santa Barbara. Specializing in yummy acai creations, Tucker was happy to join us at the outdoor seating so we could all start our morning together.

Dog Friendly Backyard Bowls Santa Barbara

These trips are just such precious memories for me. I can’t wait for my next dog friendly adventure.

Have you been to Santa Barbara? Any tips for my next trip — or ideas for future dog friendly destinations?

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Many thanks to Visit Santa Barbara, a Tucker-approved pet-friendly destination, for hosting our trip.

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24 Comments...
  • Amanda Anderson
    May 22 2019

    aw SB <3 making me miss it

    • Alex
      May 23 2019

      Thought of you this whole post! Let’s go back together some day <3

  • A post full of things that make us smile

    • Alex
      May 23 2019

      Aw, thanks Jo-Anne — me too!

  • Kelly Russell
    May 22 2019

    I always enjoy your posts with Tucker! He looks like such a sweet pup. I’m constantly on the lookout for dog friendly places here in New England.

    • Alex
      May 23 2019

      New England I’ve found to be far less dog friendly than the West Coast, sadly — but stay tuned for a dog friendly guide to Saratoga coming up next month!

  • Janice
    May 23 2019

    Hi Alex,
    I don’t know you.
    I may never know you but through the articles on your blog, I have grown to know an element of you.
    Through your recent adversities and your mums progressive illness – you have continued to shine through in your writing. I find your layouts lovely and your smiling face has become part of my weekly fix. Life can be tragic and life can be wonderful and it offers up to us the opportunity to experience it in all its glory, if we can be brave and courageous and face it head on and sometimes when stepping up for others – it shows us more of ourselves than we would ever see from the travels we take.
    I am humbled as always to read, laugh, learn and discover the world through your eyes and proudly look on as one of your readers, as you adapt to the situations you find yourself in. Its always a pleasure!
    Well, that’s enough gush for now…
    i’m ‘tuckered’ out.
    Get it 😉

    • Alex
      May 23 2019

      This is so kind, Janice, thank you. I’m glad to have these past travel stories to share while I’m a little more stationary, these days.

  • Anita
    May 23 2019

    I find it very difficult to travel with a dog in some countries or cities. Santa Barbara looks dogs friendly and I would definitely visit.

    • Alex
      May 23 2019

      Indeed, it can be a real challenge! California is really refreshing in that way!

  • Julia Nix
    May 25 2019

    Tucker, you are so missed here in Wanderland. Love to you always.

    • Alex
      May 25 2019

      Tucker is always missed <3 My boo!

  • Angie Orth
    May 28 2019

    I have been missing Tucker’s model-quality good looks in my life, so this post came at the perfect time. How can one pup be so freaking attractive? MORE TUCKER CONTENT, please. The world cannot get enough!

    • Alex
      May 29 2019

      Oh, fear not — there is a fresh Tucker’s Tails Edition coming very soon in the future.

  • Laura Blanford
    May 29 2019

    Kimptons are SO dog friendly! We took my pup Nellie down to Portland a few years ago, and they rolled out the red carpet with treats AND a dog bed. No weird restrictions, no extra pet fees, they are truly pet friendly.

    • Alex
      May 29 2019

      Yeah I find the weight restrictions at some “pet friendly” hotels to be so strange. I’m glad Kimpton one doesn’t have one!

  • Mary B
    May 30 2019

    Tucker looks like he had the best time! I don’t have a pup, but I am moving to LA soon and this looks like a great weekend getaway, doggo or no!

    • Alex
      June 4 2019

      It totally is — there’s actually loads we would have done sans dog as well, like some really cool museums!

  • bipro
    June 7 2019

    Wow, just amazing…

  • Rebecca
    June 11 2019

    Love this guide! We’re heading down the west coast in a few weeks and Santa Barbara is high on our list of places to stop in. Always great to know in advance the fun places we can take our pup!

    • Alex
      June 12 2019

      Amazing — let me know how you find it! I think it’s just the best city ever to visit with a dog!

  • Jeff
    June 17 2019

    No mention of dog friendly landlords or rentals in Santa Barbara? Opps…my bad….there are not many. Not a very dog friendly town if you live here. Does this make Santa Barbara a nice place to visit with dogs – but you wouldn’t want to live there?

    • Alex
      June 20 2019

      Hey Jeff! This is definitely a travel focused article but I’m sorry to hear that living with a dog isn’t as easy as traveling with one in Santa Barbara! There are SO many dogs in town though, sounds like everyone is finding a way to make it work!

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