Stanford Inn by the Sea, Mendocino, CA
Next to a plate of cookies for the humans is a welcome kit for Miss Bea: a housemade sweet-potato treat tied in a white ribbon,
water and food dishes, an ample stack of plastic bags, and two fresh sheets. The room, with a white bedspread and end tables
with slender mahogany legs, feels classically grown-up, not “proofed” for anything.
Miss Bea has to stay on-leash all the time (she’s a bolter), and goes all Cujo at certain other dogs. But here, at the Stanford Inn by the Sea (from $225, breakfast included; dogs $45 onetime fee; stanfordinn.com) in Mendocino for a beach weekend, it’s as if the word “no” doesn’t exist. The inn, and many local parks, restaurants, and other businesses, go way beyond merely allowing dogs. They welcome them, and their canine quirks, openly.
We walk down the hill from the inn and out to the beach just off Highway 1 at the mouth of the Big River. This is why there are so many dog-friendly beach towns on our rocky, rugged coast—there’s so much for a dog to do, and relatively little trouble to get into. The beach is, simply, nature’s coolest playground, even if you never go in more than ankle deep.
While hotels increasingly allow dogs—hoping to cash in on the 39 percent of U.S. households that own one—the Stanford has been pet-friendly since Jeff Stanford and his wife, Joan, bought it 37 years ago, shortly after moving from the Midwest. Back then, if you traveled with a dog, “you had to stay at a Holiday Inn or nothing,” says Jeff. Like many people who move to California, Jeff says they wanted to do things on their own terms. So, at their place, dogs go everywhere. “It’s just automatic.” Even in the sitting area in the lobby, just outside the hotel’s Ravens’ Restaurant, you can eat breakfast in the company of your dog. The food is organic and vegan, which is how Jeff wants it. It is also delicious.