Every spring we try to bring you a travel story based on our adventures out and about in the Bay Area and beyond. For the last couple of months John and I have been out visiting local breweries while we out going to various dog parks and trails to keep our 4-legged kids happy and content. These have been such great family outings that we thought we would share them with you and all the other beer-loving canine lovers out there!

This hops-inspired story started in October of 2014 when we decided to go to the Annual “Gathering of the Cu” for The Northern California Irish Wolfhound Club. This event is always on the first weekend of December and is held at Toro Park in Salinas on Hwy 68 near Monterey. This “gathering” brings together Irish Wolfhound owners from all over California for some games and bonding with their dogs as well as an Ocean Beach Walk in Carmel and lunch at a canine-friendly establishment. (Aren’t they all in Carmel?)

As John and I made arrangements we decided to make this our Spring Travel story. We arranged to stay at the Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel since we knew this to be a fabulously dog-friendly hotel that had a restaurant and sports bar on site. The Gathering of the Cu started on Saturday morning and is located right off the freeway and close to the Hwy 68 exit, we came in on Friday and decided to get rested up for the “Games.” We, of course, did not plan on hitting the biggest storm of the season on our way down the Highway, and there were a couple moments I thought we would float into the parking lot at the hotel.

Dinner was an easy decision, since there was no way we were going out in that storm again; We headed into the hotel’s TusCA Ristorante. We were so overwhelmed with the service and wonderful food that it was an easy decision to say to ourselves, “Now we know where to stay every year for this event!” The food and the wine that accompanied the meal were just what we needed before heading back to our rooms to make sure that our “Hounds” were settled in.

The next morning the weather had abated so we decided to have our breakfast outside with our 4-legged kids right in front of the Golf Course and next to the pool. This is where we started plotting our hops/canine agenda for later in the day.

After this trip ending with a romp on the unleashed Carmel’s Ocean Avenue Beach and lunch at the Forge in the Forest restaurant (where our hounds were allowed to be with us on the beautiful patio), we decided we wanted to combine the two experiences again. (Did we mention that John ordered a large beer and was he ever surprised when a 32-ounce mug was brought to the table?) We continued our excited banter as we sat on our deck at the ever dog-friendly Hofsas House. Ben, Devlin and Reagan love how Carrie Theis at the Hofsas House has their beds and treats ready for them when they arrive. Always curious about what dog parks are like in other towns as well as our love of checking out craft beers at brewpubs, we got busy with research and paired up a few out of many in the Bay Area.

For our first official foray, we chose to go to Rocky Memorial Dog Park in Petaluma, which is a fairly big expanse for large and small dogs to run unleashed. Also in Petaluma is the Tap Room, where many brews from different breweries are featured, and Dempsey’s Brewpub, which is just a stone’s throw away. Both of these establishments overlook the Petaluma River. Tap Room does not allow dogs but Dempsey’s does—we stop here often on our way home from the off-leash Dillon Beach. Dogs are also allowed at Lagunitas Brewing but they are always insanely crowded.

On this fine day, however, we decided to head north up Hwy 101 from the Rocky Memorial Dog Park to Villa Chanticleer, a beautiful park in the hills above Healdsburg. There are on-leash trails here as well as a large fenced area for dogs to run free amid shady trees, tables, chairs and water stations. After the dogs wore themselves out exploring and playing with other dogs we drove into town and landed at Bear Republic Brewpub just off the main town square, which is famous for its many shops and restaurants. They do allow dogs in their outside serving area but we chose to park the dogs in a shady spot and sit inside since Ben, Reagan and Devlin were exhausted. This is one of the better brewpubs for ambiance, service, quality craft beer and food. They are very well known for their Racer 5 IPA seen in all the stores.

For our next weekend adventure we decided to head to Point Isabel in Albany since we had heard nothing but good things and it is rated one of the top 10 dog parks in the US!  This dog park is unique since it has a café and dog washing station. It is also the largest with the most acreage and the dogs can really run to their heart’s content. Unfortunately, parking fills up very fast so if you can’t find a space there is another one next door called Buchanan Dog Park behind Golden Gate Fields with a nice little beach, also off leash. There are no brewpubs in this area that allow dogs but Pyramid Brewpub in Berkeley is worth a visit for their great beers if you can find shade to park the dogs in their parking lot. A little further down the road there’s Pacific Coast Brewery in Oakland and Faction Brewing in Alameda that do allow dogs.

Our favorite trip so far was the Mill Valley Dog Park in Marin. It’s a bit of an on-leash walk to get to the off-leash area from the parking lot but it’s very scenic with Mt. Tamalpais on one side, the bay on the other and lots of grassy areas to run. Dogs can also play in the water here. Not too far from this canine haven is the Broken Drum Brewery in San Rafael that allows dogs in a nice semi enclosed area in front.

We decided to keep going on this very special day and just a few miles away in Fairfax at the end of Cascade Road there is a cool little trail following a creek upstream about a mile to a pretty waterfall. This trail is on-leash only and better suited for smaller dogs who behave on leashes, unlike our giants who are accustomed to running free! Parking is very limited here on a narrow road with houses on both sides right up to the trailhead. After this hike we were pretty tired so we decided we needed a bit of a respite, we headed to a gem of a brewpub called Iron Springs Brewery, also in Fairfax. John loved the 2 huge TVs (naturally) hanging over the bar just a few feet from us. There are picnic tables outside on the sidewalk where dogs and cyclists mingle with water bowls and pint glasses. What’s really cool about this place besides the great beer, wonderful food and friendly staff is what’s next door: it’s the K9 Scrub Club where you are provided everything you need to wash and groom your pet in a comfortable environment for 20 bucks. Unless they had a crane, we couldn’t get our 150 lb. wolfhounds into the raised, claw-foot tubs, but something like a Labrador shouldn’t be a problem. For an extra fee they will wash your dog while you quaff your favorite brew and catch the game. They also have dog treats, toys and food at very reasonable prices. This was an enjoyable day all around!

Vallejo has finally joined the club with the Mare Island Brewing Company in the ferry building on the waterfront. If you want to take Fido for an on-leash walk you can park at Zio Fraedo’s Restaurant and walk down to the brewpub where they allow dogs on the patio in back overlooking the water. When you head back to your car you can stop in at Zio’s and have a bite to eat since your four-legged companions are allowed on their outside deck. If your dog is still hankering for an off leash experience, head over to the Wardlaw Dog Park on Ascot Pkwy. It’s a nice grassy 2.2-acre fenced area great for dogs of all sizes.

Here in Napa, where we live, there are several excellent options and in my biased opinion we have the 2nd best dog park in California. Located just 2 miles west of Hwy 29 off Redwood Road is Alston Park on Dry Creek Road with 30 acres of off-leash heaven with 150 acres total. There is also a smaller fenced area close to the parking area called The Commons where the timid, small, shy and friendly can socialize. That rule applies to humans as well as dogs! There is water, poop bags galore and plenty of garbage cans placed strategically throughout. (Beware of foxtails at Alston though, mid-spring through midsummer they are the worst.) In east Napa near the state hospital is Shurtleff Dog Park with a nice seasonal creek running through it for the dogs to play in. There’s no gate so you should keep your dog on leash until you get at least 50 yards into this long and narrow park. There’s a nice grassy area, a school on one side and houses on the other but it really feels like country in there. At the far end there’s a eucalyptus grove with the creek and it’s extremely scenic and very nice.

Kennedy Memorial Park at the end of Streblow Drive behind Napa Golf Course and Napa College is another good place to run your dog off leash—in the undeveloped areas only, which is north and south of the boat ramp along the Napa River. From here Napa Smith Brewery is not too far at Hwy 29 and Airport Road where dogs are allowed inside the tasting room, since they don’t have a kitchen or serve food. You are welcome to bring your own food though and we’ve taken pizza from Napoli’s in Vallejo, deli sandwiches from Genova Deli in Napa and hot wings from the Wing Stop in American Canyon getting envious looks from uninformed customers! Napa Smith’s beers are excellent and we return often.

Downtown Joe’s is a great brewpub in downtown (of course) Napa and dogs are allowed in the outside serving areas. Just down Main Street, south from Joe’s, is Angele Restaurant, which has a nice covered outdoor eating area that welcomes dogs and has great food. Right next-door to Angele’s is The General Store which has an expansive outdoor patio that welcomes their canine friends.

From Alston Park it’s also just a short ride up Hwy 29 to Yountville and Pacific Blues’ wonderful outdoor eating area in front of V Marketplace. On your way there you might see the famous Don Giovanni restaurant on the right, which allows dogs as well.

I am not sure about you but I am exhausted just reading this! After we rest up we still have a couple more places to go like Pena Adobe Park in Vacaville and Berryessa Brewing Company in Winters.

But that’s another story…

Dog-Friendly Brew Pubs and Restaurants Near Off-Leash Dog Parks

Angele, 540 Main St. (allows dogs), Napa, CA 94559, (707) 252-8115  www.angelerestaurant.com

Downtown Joe’s American Brewery, 902 Main St. (allows dogs), Napa, CA 94559, (707) 258-2337 www.downtownjoes.com

Napa General Store, 540 Main St. #100, Napa, CA 94559 (707) 259-0762 www.napageneralstore.com

Napa Smith Brewery, 1 Executive Way (allows dogs inside and out) Napa, CA 94558 (707) 254-7167 www.napasmithbrewery.com/home/

Pacific Blues, 6525 Washington St., Yountville, CA 94599 (707) 944-4455 www.pacificbluescafe.com

Mare Island Brewing Company, The Ferry Building, 289 Mare Island Way, Vallejo, CA (707) 556-3000, www.mareislandbrewingco.com

Zio Fraedo’s, 23 Harbor Way, Vallejo, CA. 94590, (707) 642-8984, www.ziofraedos.com/v_main.htm

Lagunitas Brewing Company, 1280 N McDowell Blvd. (allows dogs), Petaluma, CA 94954, (707) 778-8776 www.lagunitas.com

Bear Republic Brewing Company, 345 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg, CA 95448  (allows dogs), (707) 433-2337 www.bearrepublic.com

Dempsey’s Restaurant and Brewery, 50 E Washington St. (allows dogs), Petaluma, CA 94952, (707) 765-9694 www.dempseys.com

Petaluma Taps (No Dogs**), 54 E Washington St, Petaluma, CA 94952, (707) 763-6700, www.petalumataps.com

Moylan’s Brewery and Restaurant, 15 Rowland Way (allows dogs), Novato, CA 94945, (415) 898-4677 www.moylans.com

Pacific Coast Brewing Co., 906 Washington St. (allows dogs), Oakland, CA 94607, (510) 836-2739, www.pacificcoastbrewing.com

Faction Brewing, 2501 Monarch St, Alameda, CA  94501 (allows dogs), (510) 523-2739, www.factionbrewing.com

Berryessa Brewing Company, 27260 Hwy 128, Winters, CA 95697  (allows dogs), (530) 795-3526, www.berryessabrewingco.com

Heretic Brewing Company, 1052 Horizon Dr. Suite B, Fairfield, CA 94533 (allows dogs),(925) 526-6364, www.hereticbrewing.com

Broken Drum Brewery and Wood Grill, 1132 Fourth Street, San Rafael, CA 94901   (allows dogs,(415) 456-4677 (HOPS) www.brokendrum.com/

Iron Springs Pub and Brewery, 765 Center Boulevard (allows dogs), Fairfax, CA 94930, (415) 485-1005 www.ironspringspub.com

K9 Scrub Club, 767 Center Blvd Fairfax, CA 94930 (415) 578-4944 www.k9scrubclub.com

**Taps does not have the space for dogs but it’s near Rocky Memorial Park and on the way home from Dillon Beach, so the dogs sleep in the truck since we park in the shade! Taps has brews from many breweries, making it worth the stop. It also has some of the best Chicken Wings and Mac ’n’ Cheese with Pork Belly! It is also just a stone’s throw across the parking lot from Dempsey’s.

Off-Leash Dog Parks and Trails

Alston Park, 2099 Dry Creek Road, Napa, CA 94558

Kennedy Park Trail Walk On-Leash*, 2318 Streblow Dr., Napa, CA 94558

Shurtleff Park Dog Park, Shetler Ave. and Shurtleff Ave., Napa, CA 94559

Wardlaw Dog Park, 1805 Ascot Pkwy., Vallejo, CA 94591

Rocky Memorial Dog Park, Lakeville and Casa Grande Rd., Petaluma, CA 94954

Dog Bone Meadows at O’Hair Park, Novato Blvd. and San Marin Dr., Novato, CA 94945

Dillon Beach, Dillon Beach Road, Dillon Beach, CA 94929

Mill Valley Dog Park, 425 Sycamore Ave. Mill Valley, CA 94941

Cascade Falls, Cascade Dr. and Canyon Rd., Fairfax, CA 94930

Badger Park at Villa Chanticleer complex, 1142-1298 N. Fitch Mountain Rd., Healdsburg, CA

Pena Adobe Dog Park, 1 Pena Adobe Rd., Vacaville, CA

Bayfront Park, End of Tennant Ave. off San Pablo Ave. in Hercules*

Isabel Dog Park, 2701 Isabel St, Richmond, CA 94808 (Voted one of the top 10 dog parks in the US)

Buchanan Dog Beach and Park, 24 Buchanan Street, Albany, CA 94710

*Even though Kennedy Park only has an on-leash trail it is worth going to since it wraps around the Napa River and is very scenic.

**Bayfront is technically an on-leash park but many people let their dogs loose if they are well behaved to romp and play in the water

When they are not out exploring new places (and breweries!), John and Deanna can usually be found hanging out at the local dog park with Ben, Reagan and Devlin!

Deanna, John and the Dogs