Doggie Destination—Huntington Beach
by Scott Broecker
Photos Courtesy of Surf City USA
Thinking about a family trip down to Southern California?
If you plan on bringing Rover and not leaving him behind with a family member or qualified pet sitter, then you should know about The City of Huntington Beach in Orange County. Located just 37 miles south of Los Angeles, this pet-loving city offers many dog-friendly amenities, particularly its large, lush Central Park, and a mile-long stretch of golden coast designated “Dog Beach.”
With over 350 acres of grass, trees, lakes, and trails, Central Park is the perfect spot to spend some quality time with your pooch. Park entrances can be found on Edwards, Goldenwest, Gothard, Slater, Talbert, and Ellis Streets. You might think you are lost in the forest while exploring over six miles of paved trails. Enjoy an afternoon of disc golf at the 18-hole course or head over to Best Friend Dog Park, found on the east side of Edwards Street. Consisting of two fenced-in areas, one for the smaller dogs and puppies, and the other for larger dogs, the park is surrounded by tall trees providing plenty of shade on hot days. Enter the park via the dog walk of fame, made up of more than 800 twelve-inch concrete squares. Each one is embedded with pawprints and special notes from owners to their perpetual pups.
When your hunger factor kicks in, the Park Bench Cafe is ready for you, providing a scenic outdoor-seating area with soft grass for your dog to lie on. Aside from serving up great burgers and sandwiches for humans, the cafe is credited with creating the first canine-cuisine menu in the USA. Canine dishes include Bow Wow Chicken and Eggs Rover Easy. With their motto “every dog has its day at the Park Bench Café ,” your pup will surely feel fully included.
As the only permitted off-leash beach in Orange County, Dog Beach is a mecca for local and visiting dogs. It is meticulously maintained by volunteers from the non-profit group “The Preservation Society of Huntington Dog Beach.” The group was recently awarded for its volunteerism by Disneyland (only 10 miles away). Having had numerous waste stations installed on the beach, the group is dedicated to keeping Dog Beach a happy place for dogs and people alike.
Making it easier for some dogs to get to the beach while keeping their owners relaxed, local resident, Corey Brixen, has been operating Doggie Bus for five years. This free service, running only on weekends, takes a limited number of dogs and their peeps across town in style, with 12 cushy seats and a 42” plasma tv screen for watching dog-related videos.
Also known as “Surf City,” Huntington Beach hosts the U.S. Open of Surfing and is home to the International Surf Museum. Surf Dogs rejoice during the annual Surf City Surf Dog competition held in late summer. Taking place on Dog Beach, last year’s event boasted around 50 canine competitors along with their surf-savvy humans. With a crowd approaching 2000 attendees participating in the fun and excitement, the event also includes the Cowabunga Canine Costume Contest and the 5K Woofin’ Walk. The 2011 event is scheduled to take place at Dog Beach on September 25th.
If you are traveling by RV, the city operates an RV camping facility right on the coast at Bolsa Chica State Beach,. Mostly a big parking lot, it does offer hot showers and beachfront parking sites.
There are numerous pet-friendly hotels in the area. At the Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort, all rooms are pet-friendly for dogs up to 75 lbs with a $75 per-stay fee. Shorebreak Hotel accepts dogs up to 50 lbs with no fee. The Pacific Inn in nearby Seal Beach accepts dogs under 35 lbs with a $50 per-stay fee.