Fall greetings Fido friends and loyal followers, I hope you all have had lots of tail wagging and romping good adventures this summer. I have been quite the busy terrier. I passed my AKA Good Citizen Test, I participated in the annual 4th of July Parade in Mendocino and appeared at the opening of Mendocino Village’s new off-leash Dog Park. I was also lucky to be featured (while enjoying al-fresco dining in Fort Bragg, CA) in Fido Friendly magazine’s 50th edition. I am also very proud to have bestowed upon me the honor of being named the official Director of Barketing for Visit Mendocino County. Inc. There was a wonderful visit from my best friend, Jai Ram, and oh yes, my run in with a skunk? I am still exhaling skunk fumes weeks later, yuck.
Even though I stayed close to home this summer I did have the opportunity to visit the charming town of Gualala located on the Coast at the southern tip of Mendocino County. It was a gloriously sunny day at home and I was slowly making myself comfortable on the back deck to catch some rays when I heard familiar sounds coming from the guest bedroom. For a start, I heard closets being opened and I know they contain items belonging to moi. Finding this activity intriguing, I decided to investigate more closely. Sure enough, on the spare bed, were my overnight case and all the trimmings I need for a road trip that involves a sleepover. I immediately jumped onto the bed to make sure that all the necessities were being packed. I have been told that Gualala is quite the pet friendly place so my dads’ felt that I should go check it out.
Whether you travel to Gualala through Sonoma County or from within Mendocino County, the drive is spectacular and full of sights of historical interest to check out along the way. Gualala, for many, is a name that’s hard to pronounce and even harder to spell. Some people call it “gwa-LA-la”, but the natives call it “wa-LA-la” it’s derived from the Kashaya Pomo Indian phrase “ah kha wa la lee” which means, “where the water flows down”. And it does – right across from the center of town the Gualala River goes out to the ocean, past the big sand bar where the whales pass by every year.
Gualala has a rich and diverse history; originally inhabited by the Pomo, Gualala began its metamorphosis with homesteaders settling the area in the mid 1800s. Soon a lumber mill was opened and commerce began to blossom. Lumber and fishing sustained Gualala and allowed it to grow and prosper until the late 1950s. With the demise of the lumber industry, Gualala languished in a state of limbo for a while until its re-discovery by artists in the early 60s. Today Gualala has become a vibrant and diverse art community. Visitors are drawn to this tranquil spot of stunning ocean views, unspoiled beaches, river activities and a hiking forest paradise.
After a pleasant drive down the Coast we arrived in Gualala and checked into the pet friendly Gualala Country Inn situated on Highway 1 at the south end of the town. This unpretentious and cozy Inn has uninterrupted views of the ocean and is within walking distance of the beach/river, shops, galleries and restaurants. Owners and operators Linda and Mike Bradbrook welcome guests with warm and friendly hospitality. Both long time Gualala residents and business owners, they are a wealth of information about exploring the area and were great at letting me know all the best pet friendly places I could go. The rooms are comfortable and each room has unique décor that reflects the country esthetic. A continental breakfast is included with your stay. For more information on the Gualala Country Inn, please visit www.gualala.com.
After the car ride down to Gualala I was ready for a romp on the beach and Linda suggested that we head a little north of town to Cooks Beach which is at 526 County Road, mile marker 3.14. Parking is limited and there is a slope to navigate to get to the beach, but is it worth it! Protected from the wind, this beautiful sandy cove is a great place to let off some steam. Please bring suitable waste bags; this is a carry in and carry out beach. After a short but fun time we headed back into town to Cypress Village. This charming area is full of unique galleries, shops and eateries. I was allowed into almost all the shops and galleries, where treats, ear rubs and lots of fuss were made of me.
After all this activity I was ready for some food. A favorite with locals and visitors, and sporting a killer view of the ocean with ample patio space for thirsty and hungry canines is Trinks Restaurant. Gelato, coffee drinks, homemade soups, salads, sandwiches, desserts and specialties of the day make this a fun and affordable place to unwind. There was no water bowl outside for thirsty dogs but when asked for one it was brought out willingly. Trinks serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.
I have reviewed St. Orres previously my recommendation still stands, it’s one of the best restaurant dining experiences uprights and their best friends can enjoy together. This time my dads’ were so wanting to go to Bones Roadhouse for some of the best BBQ on the Coast; unfortunately they’ve moved locations after a fire and no longer have an outdoor seating area. This pained me terribly as I had to sit in the car with the windows cracked as the air traveled in carrying with it the mouthwatering smells of flavorful BBQ. It is bordering on animal cruelty to subject a gourmet hound like me to a sensory attack. When my uprights returned they had not forgotten me and a wonderfully tasty BBQ chicken breast was my reward for all my suffering. (Guilt will get ‘em every time!!) Cypress Bar and Grill is another restaurant with patio seating that will accommodate canine diners. I promise a review on them soon.
The wonderfully scenic Bluff Top Walking Trail is a gentle trail with various access points throughout the town of Gualala and is a great on-leash opportunity to take in the unspoiled majesty of the ocean and headlands. Also worth a visit is the delightful and surprising Gualala Arts Center, nestled in the redwoods at the south end of Gualala. This multi-faceted performing arts center is the hub of the South Coast’s art community. Fifty years in the making, it is comprised of several galleries showcasing a wide range of artists and media, live theater, workshops, gardens, and has hiking trails down to the Gualala River which makes it a delightful spot to visit. Well-behaved dogs are allowed on the grounds but not inside the building. So bring a picnic, hang out for a while, take us down to the river and enjoy a lazy afternoon feeding your cultural soul. Also, check out the Dolphin Gallery in the Sundstrom Shopping Center off Highway 1 in the town of Gualala for affordable original works of art by the Arts Center members, all proceeds benefit the Art Center.
Gualala has several pet friendly lodging choices and I look forward to staying in them and reporting back to you on my experiences. Gualala is evolving and growing and embracing its canine visitors and I am sure that by my next visit even more pet friendly activities and delights will be available. And I will definitely be doing a Gualala Review, Part Deux.