Sunday, April 13, 2008

Cambria: Dog Friendly Vacation Destination

I was recently lucky enough to spend a few days visiting with my parents in Cambria. For those of you who don't know, Cambria is a tree-filled, oceany, Central California coastal community located smack-dab between L.A. and S.F. (around 250 miles North of Belmont Shore.) Anyways. While reminiscing about my trip, I came to a strange realization: I would have had just as much fun there... if I was a dog! Though my husband and I had visited without any canine companions, almost all of our activities were potentially pup-inclusive:

Fiscalini Ranch Trails: I absolutely love this place, and whatdoyaknow...polite, rule-following dogs are welcome! There are all sorts of different hiking trails that run along the water and wind through the forests & hilly grasslands. One trail which parallels the ocean (located off of Windsor) is partly boardwalk-style & made of wooden planks (this is where we met the cutest fuzzy Sheltie puppy who was practicing loose-leash walking with her mom.) From the oceanside trail you can watch the waves crash, feel the wind, and be on the lookout for playful otters and migrating whales. All-dirt trails meander up into the hillside (see photo above), where we saw a multitude of insects, wildflowers, and a superchunky lizard (not exactly sure which kind... just that it wasn't one of the gang of Western Fence Lizards that have taken over the turf at our Nature Center back at home...) My favorite Fiscalini trail loops through the pines and oaks. The forest is host to squirrels, deer, and a ton of different kinds of birds. Humans and dogs aren't the only ones using the trails, which is evidenced by all the various wildlife scat (feces) around (this is an occasion when the "leave it" command will come in handy!) Not to be gross, but scat is also a fascinating find for most preschoolers, coming in second only to rolie polie sightings (preschoolers can spot scat a mile away, and proceed to describe the content in exceptional detail: "that one has berries... that one is furry..." etc.) While walking this trail, you'll also want to help your little ones (both human and canine) avoid trampling through any overgrown tendrils of poison oak. We met a very handsome (and huge!) Irish Setter who seemed to be navigating quite well and with great enthusiasm. Although wandering the trails without guidance is fun as-is, for ultimate nature lovers & my beloved science nerds, the Friends of the Fiscalini Ranch schedules special Naturalist-led tours which highlight the incredible biological diversity of the area.

Driving back from the ranch trails, we passed the Cambria Pines Lodge. This is one of the loveliest places to stay in Cambria (see photo above.) Not only are dogs welcome as guests, but the Lodge also has a restaurant which allows doggie diners in the outdoor patio area (with reservations.) The restaurant has a delicious overall menu, offers room service (yay to room service!) and has a great Sunday brunch, as well (yum!)

Before arriving in town, my mom had informed me that "a new shop!" had opened up. New shops are a rare occurrence in Cambria, so of course we had to go check it out. It's called Le Monde Chiens (above, at 1940 Main Street) and it happens (dundundun) to be a pet-stuff boutique and bakery (or "barkery.") They carry the cutest apparel (cozy argyle sweaters and Kwigy Bo items), pet collar charms (Mom bought Scooby some heart-shaped bling), and a wide selection of tasty, fresh-baked treats. The treat bakery is towards the back of the store, and opens up to a darling outdoor snacking deck. Anyone is welcome to drop in to shop, but if you become a "Platinum Member" at Le Monde Chiens (dues are only a mere $20 a year!... yes, a mere $20!) you get all sorts of discounts and even a Thank You Party thrown for you, your dog, and five guests, complete with a doggie cake, beverages, & a gift! Call me crazy, but what a great excuse to celebrate your pup's birthday! It's the perfect weekend road trip inspiration! Besides all this substance, I must note that this place also has style. The ambiance is adorably Amelie-esque, quirky-Frenchish; all done up in pinks and browns, with happy smatterings of polka-dots & stripes. Plus, the employees are really supernice. It's complete puppy (& puppy-lover) Heaven.

Like most dog-loving communities, Cambria would not be complete without a dog park. The Cambria Dog Park is located on Main Street in the East end of town, near Santa Rosa Creek Road & Highway 1. The space is designated in the middle of a wide open field, and the surrounding view of the trees is something all species can appreciate. As we were leaving for home, we drove by and witnessed two labs romping in the sun. Although small in stature, this dog park is clean, obviously well-loved, and superduperpretty (much like the entire town, itself.)

Visiting SoCalers often find Cambria a great getaway spot, and for puppy parents in particular, it makes the absolute ideal doggie destination!

1 comment:

Exie Bethel said...

Wow! I want to be in this place! I’m sure my dog would enjoy to spend some time in here too! I make it a point that aside from a family vacation, I also take some time to bond with my dog – just the two of us! It’s my way of showing how much grateful I am to have her!