Thursday, March 11, 2010

Adventures on the Central Coast

Carpinteria is a slow-paced beach town cradled between the mountains and the sea, about twelve miles south of Santa Barbara. "Carp," as the locals call it, is renowned as a dog-friendly town, and we can attest to its reputation after what turned out to be the perfect four-day camping trip. Our three pooches had a great time running on the beach, hiking the trails, and relaxing on the patios of some very yummy eateries.

Our picks:

In Carpinteria:

All the campsites are just a two-minute walk from the beach, and are adjacent to a great hiking trail with a nice, lush meadow for off-leash doggie play. About a half-mile up the trail is a roped-off viewing area on the bluffs, overlooking the Carpinteria Seal Sanctuary. The protected harbor seals spend much of their time sunbathing on the rocky shore, with occasional dips in the ocean. From December through May, the spot serves as a birthing habitat, and you can watch the little ones playing and swimming in the tide pools.
5361 6th St, (805) 684-2811
$35-55 per night, $10 for day pass

We adore Jack's, where the big patio has shady palms, heat lamps, and lots of room between the tables so the dogs can stretch out. Jack's boasts friendly staff, great service, and the best Bagel Benedict this side of the 101. Try the Salmon Scramble or, for adventurous palates, the Jalapeno Bagel with Jalapeno Cream Cheese.
5050 Carpinteria Ave, (805) 566-1558
M-F: 6:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Sa-Su: 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

This award-winning, family-run brewery is worth a trip in every season. Owner Paul Wright, who got his start at the Marin Brewing Co., is a certified judge and enjoys exploring with limited release and seasonal brews. Island offered just ten gallons of a very dry Passionfruit Weiss this Valentine's Day, and last week introduced their delicious cask Vanilla Bean Stout. Their dog-friendly patio has a restful ocean view, and is a short walk across the railroad tracks from the campground.
5049 6th Street, (805) 745-8272
M-F: 2:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., Sa-Su: 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

In Santa Barbara:

If you're after a little more pampering, we recommend these cozy cottage-style studios, just a block away from dog-heaven West Beach in Santa Barbara. Included in the very affordable rates are 3-speed cruising bicycles, a huge breakfast basket complete with dog biscuits, and beach chairs and umbrellas to help you while your day away in comfort.
104 Bath St, Santa Barbara; (805) 962-9745
$119 (cute suite with Queen bed) to $325 (for deluxe King with fireplace or hydrotherapy tub), $15 pet fee

The inn is a short walk away from downtown State Street, where you'll find plenty of dog-friendly restaurants (try The Natural cafe, at 508 State St, for tasty vegan fare), as well as OffLeash pet boutique (1103 State St), in case you forgot Fido's favorite rubber ball.


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