Skip to main content

Head North of Ordinary for a Land of Wine, Whale Watching and Woof Walks in Northern California

Grab the leash, your binoculars and your teammate in wine tasting. The northern part of California (beyond San Francisco) has 10,488 miles of adventure to spy migrating and resident whales, trot dog-friendly trails and beaches, and sip at breath-taking vineyards.




As the state’s north-westernmost county, nature outnumbers people in Del Norte County. Plop your pooch in the car and cruise down Pebble Beach Drive. Stop along some of the rocky overlooks or wander out to Battery Point Lighthouse during low tide to whale watch. The Klamath and Crescent Beach Overlooks are scenic spots to possibly see one of the resident or migrating whales. If you prefer to whale watch by boat, launch your kayak off Pebble Beach a half-mile out towards Castle Rock National Wildlife Refuge where gray whales can be seen along with seals, sea lions, and nesting birds. Guided kayak tours are available from Redwood Rides, too. Stella’s Adventures offers whale watching tours by boat conveniently from the Crescent City Harbor.


Whale watching can be done on foot from Battery Point Lighthouse, or from several other beach lookouts throughout Del Norte County. Photo credit: Bryant Anderson / Visit Del Norte County

In Del Norte County, leashed dogs are welcome on all beaches. Kellogg Beach is fun for agate-hunting as well as seagull chasing and sniffing. If you need a dog-friendly place to bed down, check out the Trees of Mystery’s Motel Trees for a rustic rest followed by a walk along the Trail of Tall Tales with your furry sidekick to see one-of-a-kind redwood sculpture carvings — Trees of Mystery, Paul Bunyan and Babe welcome dogs here. For a seaside motel option, the Anchor Beach Inn offers easy South Beach access for dog walks and miles of play. For more dog-friendly hiking trails, the Smith River National Recreation Area has nearly two dozen trails to choose from. Check out this trail guide from Smith Trail Alliance for hiking trail information.


Tavi gazes at the Cathedral redwood tree at Trees of Mystery with her humans in Del Norte County. Photo credit: Lynnette Braillard / Visit Del Norte County

Maritime muts will rejoice while paddling Lake Earl lagoon in Tolowa Dunes State Wildlife Area. Leashed dogs are allowed on many of the Tolowa State Park trails. Your travel tribe will marvel at the diverse landscape of marshes, dunes and woodlands. Need a woof walk under towering redwoods? Stroll along Walker Road in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park admiring ancient giants, and then rest your paws at the campground. Stop in at Enoteca in downtown Crescent City to enjoy a glass of a sweet Moscato from the nearby Foris Vineyards on the airy and dog-friendly patio out back.





Discover magnificent forests, vibrant communities, and the fresh air of Humboldt County. For a close encounter with wildlife, grab some paddles and your pooch and launch toward Trinidad Head. You’ll cruise by kayak (try a guided kayak tour with Kayak Trinidad available year-round) around a rocky peninsula and immense sea stacks where seals, sea lions, sea birds, and otters reside. Keep your eye on the horizon for whales as well. Or put your paws on land at the Table Bluff overlook in South Humboldt Bay. The miles of sand dunes and marshes lure in hikers, anglers, 4-legged friends, surfers and whale watchers.

Guided wildlife tours with Kayak Trinidad at Trinidad Head in Humboldt County. Photo credit: Kayak Trinidad / Humboldt County

You’ll discover a spectacular old-growth forest along the dog-friendly Cal Barrel Road trail in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. Sniff out a herd of elk on Gold Bluffs Beach. Take a scenic 31-mile drive along the Avenue of the Giants through soaring redwoods and ferny forest floors. In Eureka, artistry and history collide at Blue Ox Millworks and Historic Park. Take your pup along for a tour of Victorian woodworking machinery, a blacksmith shop producing ornamental iron work, and a ceramics studio.

Phatsy Kline's Front Patio is Made for Sipping

Craft cocktails and wine are always on the menu at the historic Phatsy Kline’s restaurant and bar in Old Town Eureka. Photo credit: Lynnette Braillard / Humboldt County

Park yourself and your pooch on the front or back patio at Phatsy Kline’s for craft cocktails or a glass of Pinot Noir from Briceland Vineyards sourced from tiny hillside vineyards in the Redway and Myers Flat area of southern Humboldt County, or a crisp Sauvignon Blanc from Trinity River Vineyards. This Old Town Eureka eatery and drinkery is located at the historic Eagle House, a landmark hotel from 1886 which is now called the Inn at 2nd & C. Snuggle in for the night in one of their beautifully appointed dog-friendly Victorian-era rooms.

Briceland Vineyards is a quaint family-owned winery located off-the-beaten-path in southern Humboldt County. Photo credit: Lynnette Braillard / Humboldt County




With spectacular vistas, world-class wines, and the largest freshwater lake in California, Lake County is a gem. Sip on some award-winning Sauvignon Blanc at Chacewater Winery and Olive Mill as you sample artisan olives with a sweet pup at your feet. If Rover prefers red, enjoy a glass of celebrated Petit Sirah at Langtry Estate & Vineyard. Picnic on the grounds with a view of a crystal reservoir. Tour the Laujor Estate Vineyard wine cave or relax with a glass of Summer Splendor Rosé outside. With more than 24 wineries and tasting rooms welcoming dogs in Lake County, this is one of the most dog-friendly wine regions in California.

Dog-friendly wine tasting at Laujor Estate Vineyard in Lake County. Photo credit: Karen Pavone / Lake County

Paddle the peaceful waters of Blue Lakes nestled at the foot of a rugged canyon. Enlist your furry first-mate in fishing for largemouth bass, trout, and bluegill. Let your dog roam through oak woodlands, and grasslands within the Cache Creek Natural Area. The BLM land offers a handful of trails to view Tule Elk, romp in wildflowers and splash in rushing river streams. Take an artful amble through Middletown Trailside Nature Preserve’s sculpture walk. Leashed dogs are welcomed throughout the 107-acre parkland.

Standup Paddleboard at Blue Lakes in Lake County, California

Discover the clear waters of two northern California lakes called Blue Lakes located just 135 miles north of San Francisco in scenic Lake County Photo credit: Karen Pavone / Lake County




Make room for some enchantment along Mendocino County’s craggy shores, lush forests and unforgettable wineries. Visit Goldeneye Winery for some of the region’s best Pinot Noir and soak up the rolling hills and redwood forests from their dog-friendly patio or picnic under a 500-year-old Black Oak tree overlooking the Confluence Vineyard. Off the main winery row just a ways is Camopvida, a small family-run winery with a commitment to quality. Order a glass of crisp rosé and amble through flourishing gardens with your furry companion.


Try a wine tasting experience under a 500-year-old Black Oak Tree in Mendocino County. Photo credit: Visit Mendocino County

Migrate your adventure west for the shoreline to witness another kind of migration. Van Damme State Park boasts a picturesque beach, ferny forests and camping any time of year. Let Fido’s feet get sandy as you watch the waves for mighty whales. Take in some history with a visit to Point Cabrillo Light Station. Built in 1909, it’s a smart spot for winter whale watching and dogs are welcome on the trails as well as the lighthouse. For a dreamy place to stay, head over to Lightkeeper’s House and Cottages. The West Cottage is a dog-friendly vacation rental. If you need to stretch your legs, swing into Mendocino National Forest for one million acres of quiet meadows and rushing rivers. Grab the leash and find your bliss on any designated trail.



Riri, the Frenchie, loves to Canoe at Big River Beach in Mendocino County

Riri cruises by canoe at Big River Beach in Mendocino County. Rent canoes and bikes from Catch a Canoe. Photo credit: Ramon Jimenez / Visit Mendocino County