1. Quinault Rainforest, Olympic Peninsula, Washington
What better time to explore the rainforest than when it’s raining? And rain is what it does on the west slopes of the Olympic Peninsula, one of the few places on the planet that’s home to temperate rainforests. While the Olympic National Park is off limits to your water loving Lab, the trails of the Olympic National Forest are not. Take your buddy out for a walk on one of the fine trails near the south shore of Lake Quinault. Admire towering trees that were old when Lewis and Clark came to the Pacific Northwest. And after the two of you have had enough raindrops falling on your heads, hunker down for the evening in a cozy lodge; you in a comfy chair, your furry buddy on a cushy rug in front of a warm and drying fire. The Lake Quinault Lodge (visitlakequinault.com
) offers dog-friendly rooms and out-the-door access to trails and the magnificent rainforest.
2. Pacific Beach, Washington
Just south of the Olympic Rainforests and north of bustling Ocean Shores are the quaint and quiet communities of Pacific Beach, Moclips and Seabrook. You won’t find rows of restaurants, casinos or shops here. The main attraction is the beach. And in winter a procession of storms rolling off of the surf adds an intense and stunning score. Don’t miss it! A slew of dog-accommodating cottages and lodges in these beach towns (pacificbeachwa.com/lodging.htm
) welcome you and your retriever to settle in and watch the waves roll in. Of course in between the stunning storms you may want to get out and walk, run or saunter along the area’s wide sandy beaches. Looking for a fine dining experience? Consider the Ocean Crest Resort (oceancrestresort.com
), a coastal Washington institution. And your dog is welcome in some of their cozy rooms.
3. Cannon Beach, Oregon
One of the finest and most popular beaches in the Pacific Northwest, everything that makes Cannon Beach a hit in summer applies to winter visiting as well. Miles of spectacular shoreline, all public and all open to you and your sand-sniffing setter spread north and south from this artsy resort town. Watch storm-charged breakers bash Haystack Rock, Cannon’s 235-foot signature sea stack and quite possibly the most recognized natural feature along the entire Oregon Coast. Take a hike through Ecola State Park through salty maritime forests to a series of high bluffs for supreme storm watching. Cannon Beach (cannonbeach.org
) has plenty of dog-friendly lodging options including the elegant Hallmark (hallmarkinns.com
) and Surfsand Resorts (surfsand.com
). The latter greets your buddy with a pet basket upon arrival.
4. Crescent City, California
Northern California has no shortages of great beach towns for winter walking and storm watching too. And Crescent City in Del Norte County along the Redwood Coast makes for a great off-the-beaten path destination. While the trails of Redwood National Park and the adjacent Redwood State Parks are off-limits to your curious canine, two fine Redwood Coast beaches welcome them (leashes required). Head a few miles south to Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park’s Gold Bluffs Beach or to Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park’s Crescent Beach located just minutes outside of Crescent City. Frolic on wide sandy beaches beneath towering bluffs sporting humongous ancient redwoods, firs and spruce. When it’s time to dry out, warm-up and settle in for the night, head back to town where a number of hotels including the Quality Inn and Suites Redwood Coast are dog-friendly.
5. Huntington Beach, California
If the rain is something you wish to leave behind, then perhaps a retreat in sunny Southern California is more in order for you and your storm-shy Basenji. Consider Huntington Beach. “Surf City USA” is more than just a good place for rain-ridden Northwesterners to soak up sunshine; it’s a bone-a-fide dog-friendly community. Within the city’s eight miles of some of the finest beaches in southern California, is Dog Beach. Here your surf-sniffing buddy has over one mile of wide sandy beach to run, dig, fetch and splash—unleashed! Afterwards the two of you can walk or jog along the city’s miles of trails. When it’s time for some grub, head to Huntington Beach’s Central Park where you’ll find the renowned Park Bench Café (parkbenchcafe.com
) with its doggie dining area and canine cuisine menu. It’s one of the dog-friendliest restaurants in the west. And when it’s time to retire for the evening choose from many dog-friendly hotels, including the oceanfront Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort.
6. Palm Springs, California
Prefer a little more warmth with your sunshine? Shun the seashore for the desert and head to Palm Springs where you and your Pomeranian can be pampered with winter warmth. Soak up the desert sun while strolling down Palm Canyon Drive. The area boasts several fine dog parks including one off of Civic Drive sporting old-school fire hydrants. The Civic Center Dog Park has separate areas for big and small dogs and is lit until 11 pm allowing the two of you to enjoy a refreshing desert night. And if you prefer to experience some desert wilderness, head to the nearby San Bernardino National Forest and the Salton Sea State Recreation Area for good hiking and camping options.
7. Lake Tahoe, California
If it’s a winter wonderland you desire, head to the mountains of Lake Tahoe. Here you and your snowbound hound will have no shortage of snug lakeside and mountain cabins and condos to choose from—and miles of snow blanketed terrain to ski and snowshoe across. Squaw Valley (squaw.com
) is one of the dog-friendliest ski villages in the west. If you’re ready to play in the snow in the form of cross-country skiing you can bring along your buddy at Tahoe City’s Tahoe XC (tahoexc.org
) and Hope Valley’s Cross Country Ski Center (hopevalleyoutdoors.com
8. Methow Valley, Washington
One of the finest places for dog-friendly cross-country skiing, and just a few hours away from Seattle is the Methow Valley. Located on the east slope of the Cascades where the sun shines liberally throughout the year, you’ll find over 200 kilometers of groomed and interconnected ski trails here. An active association (mvsta.com
) maintains these trails that weave through forest and farmland and tie together the communities of Winthrop, Twisp and Mazama. A growing number of these trails allow your dog to tag along while you’re making tracks. And when it’s time to bed down for the evening choose from among a wide array of dog-friendly lodging options in the valley ranging from the economical Blue Spruce in Twisp to the centrally located and cozy Winthrop Inn (winthropinn.com
9. Klamath Falls, Oregon
If it’s all out adventuring you desire for you and your snow loving husky, head to Klamath Falls in south central Oregon. Here abutting the Upper Klamath National Wildlife Refuge you’ll find the Crystal Wood Lodge (crystalwoodlodge.com
) billed as Southern Oregon’s Premier Pet-Friendly Destination. Aside from catering to dogs with dog bedding in the lodge’s rooms, dog-washing facilities, and a doggie-day care, are five miles of dog-friendly hiking trails perfect for traversing the property’s scenic 130-acres. Home to Briar’s Patch Sled Dogs, you can go on a dog sledding adventure led by a musher and dog team that competed in the Iditarod.
10. Victoria, British Columbia
If your winter retreat plans call for more urban sophistication, look no farther than beautiful Victoria, on British Columbia’s spectacular Vancouver Island. Quaint and cultured and welcoming to travelers with both two and four legs you’ll find plenty to do here during the long winter months. The city has two off-leash beaches where your buddy can frolic along a scenic shoreline while you take in sweeping views of the snow-capped Olympic Mountains in the distance. As a result of its recently launched Paws in the Parks program, Victoria now contains over a half dozen off-leash parks (victoria.ca/dogs
) for the two of you to sample. And with leash your pooch can take to several miles of well-groomed trails in close-to-downtown Beacon Hill Park or several large outlying regional parks like the one in East Sooke. You’ll find no shortage of dog-friendly accommodations and your buddy will have no trouble meeting a few new friends (both human and furry) within this historic and charming city.
Gear up for your winter retreat at the CityDog Shop
Craig Romano is an outdoor writer and author of several guidebooks including
Best Hikes with Dogs: Inland Northwest.