Bring Your Pup to Huntington Beach, California
in the world can you attend a party for Basset Hounds, play catch
with your best friend along a beautiful beach and then order “Rover
Easy” scrambled eggs for, well, Rover, all in the same day? Huntington
Beach — that’s where.
Huntington Beach, of course, is internationally renowned for its resorts, restaurants, surf, swimming and classic California beach culture. It also has everything for a “dog day afternoon”: a mild climate year-round, pet-friendly hotels and restaurants and even a beach where your four-legged friend can romp about unleashed.
Consider this short list of H.B.’s doggy delights:
• Local dog-lovers have fought hard to preserve the mile-long Huntington Dog Beach just south of Bolsa Chica State Beach. It’s one of the few places in California where dogs can frolic on the beach or chase a tennis ball into the pounding surf without a leash. You might even see surfers with their dogs on board happily riding the waves. While the canines socialize, fellow dog-owners strike up conversations in this laid-back setting. Who knows, you might even meet a new friend for you and your dog. The beach is open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., so remember to stay within the boundaries, clean up after your pet and have a blast!
• Best Friend Dog Park, located in Huntington Central Park, features a fenced-in acre-and-a-half for dogs to go off-leash to run, roll and socialize with other pooches. Don’t worry about your Scottish Terrier getting mowed down by an Akita – the park has separate areas for small and large dogs. It’s open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and weekends from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Parking and entry are free, but donations are welcome.
• The Park Bench Café, an sunny, pet-friendly outdoor restaurant in Huntington Central Park, is a first-rate lunch spot so pet-friendly that it offers a Canine Cuisine menu for the four-legged set. Your dog has a choice of such dishes as Bow-Wow-Wow chicken and Rover Easy scrambled eggs.
• If you happen to be around on the first Saturday of every month, check out the monthly Basset Hound Party in the Huntington Beach Central Park where owners dress up their hounds in fancy costumes. Organized by the Basset Hound Rescue of Southern California, these dog lovers meet for breakfast at the Park Bench Café to chat and show off their doggy fashions. Come between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.
• Huntington Beach may be the only city in the U.S. that hosts a monthly wiener-dog race. In the Wiener Nationals Dachshund Races, these short-legged wonders fly across cobblestone streets at the Old World Village in pursuit of fame and edible lures ranging from bratwurst to McDonald’s hamburgers. It’s not the Kentucky Derby, but more than once there has been a photo finish with the victor winning by a wet nose.
Dog-lovers can also enjoy Surf City’s best-known charms. Minutes from the beach and pier, with Fido on a leash, owners can stroll down Main Street for a bit of window-shopping or get a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants with outdoor seating – perfect for people and pooch watching.
On Main Street, there’s still more evidence of Huntington Beach’s pet-friendly ways. Check out Wiskers, a gourmet pet boutique, which offers “unique gifts for pets and their parents.” Your best friend will drool over gourmet doggy treats like cookies and brownies and covet other specialty items such as dog sculptures made out of metal or postcards with quirky photos of dogs dressed in suits and hats, and yes, even a fire hydrant for boy dogs.
For the many vacationers whose dogs are family members, Surf City offers classy and dog friendly lodging. The Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort accepts one small dog (less than 10 pounds) per room. On-site grooming services can also be arranged for your pampered pet. A lodging alternative with the same size limit for dogs is the Pacific View Inn and Suites, which accepts pets.