By Danny King
If you’re going to explore all that Los Angeles has to offer, why deny your four-legged buddy the chance to do the same. With dozens of dog parks and a wide range of neighborhoods, hills and beaches to walk, hike and explore, L.A. provides ample opportunity for pet lovers to give their furry friends a chance to make their own pawmarks on the area. Here are 10 things to try:
If you think bringing your four-legged buddy to Los Angeles will severely limit your range of accommodations, think again, as the list of local pet-friendly hotels with amenities such as treats, doggy beds and/or pet-sitting services is growing every day. If you want to stay by the water, Santa Monica’s Fairmont Miramar, Le Meridien Delfina and Le Merigot, and Marina del Rey’s Ritz-Carlton are among hotels that will welcome the wagging. Got a hankering for Downtown? The Standard Downtown LA and the Westin Bonaventure Hotel and Suites will be posh enough for the pup. Taking in the sights and sounds of the San Fernando Valley? The Sheraton Universal and the Warner Center Marriott Hotel will take care of you and yours – fur sure. Finally, if your pal wants luxury, Westside style, you’ll be relieved to know that the Beverly Hills Hotel and Bungalows provides engraved treats, lush doggie beds and even pink tennis balls. Either way, make sure to call ahead for details and restrictions because pet policies at L.A. hotels can change at any time. Ask if fees are per night or per stay, whether they allow both cats and dogs, and whether your pet can be left unattended in the room.
Just like us humans, dogs need a chance to bark, exercise and sniff-sniff-sniff to get their bearings if they’re far from home, and few places provide a better opportunity than local dog parks:
- In the hills above the San Fernando Valley, Studio City’s Laurel Canyon Dog Park provides morning and late-afternoon off-leash hours, separate areas for small and large dogs, and a small pool area for some fun cool-off time.
- For less altitude and more space in the Valley, Sepulveda Basin Off-Leash Dog Park has five acres of run-free space for large dogs and about a half-acre for smaller ones, as well as lots of pooper-scoopers for easy cleanup.
- Hermon Dog Park, which is northeast of Downtown Los Angeles in the historic Arroyo Seco region between Highland Park and South Pasadena, also has two fenced areas that keep the mud out and your friends in.
- Lake Hollywood Park has plenty of room for dogs to run free, while giving them a chance to pose regally with the Hollywood Sign in the distance.
- Westridge-Canyonback Park provides more than 1,500 acres of open space bordered by upper Mandeville Canyon, Sullivan Canyon, Mission Canyon and San Vicente Mountain Park, and is accessible from both the San Fernando Valley and West Los Angeles.
- Silverlake Recreation Area and Dog Park lets pooches scramble near the area’s reservoir while their owners flirt and catch up on their lattes.
- Culver City Dog Park, aka "The Boneyard," give pups about an acre of room to roam. It's open until every day until 10 p.m. and is well lit at night.
- In the South Bay, Redondo Beach Dog Park has a fenced, three-acre dog run and doggie drinking fountains. Note that it's open daily from dusk to dawn, except on Wednesdays, when it's closed until noon.
- Finally, Venice’s Westminster Off-Leash Dog Park gives pooches a place to play with a whiff of the ocean breeze.
Dividing Los Angeles’ Westside from the San Fernando Valley, the Santa Monica Mountains provide spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean, Downtown, the San Gabriel Mountains and the entire basin, not to mention hundreds of miles of trails for you and your buddy to explore. Hollywood Hills’ trendy Runyon Canyon has undeveloped hiking trails that pets love -- celebrities spotted here on the off-leash-allowable paths include Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, Justin Timberlake, Winona Ryder, Queen Latifah and Robbie Williams, so there's always the possibility of meeting a celebrity’s pooch. Over the hill, the San Fernando Valley’s Fryman Canyon, near Laurel Canyon Boulevard, provides a shady, idyllic walk with year-round springs and allows for on-leash companions.
Sometimes a dog just needs to get a jog in to work off that pent up energy, assuming his or her owner can keep up. Jogging and walking paths run most of the way up and down Los Angeles County’s beaches – including the Redondo-Hermosa-Manhattan trio and the stretch between Marina del Rey and Pacific Palisades – though they can get can crowded on sunny weekends with skateboarders, walkers and baby strollers. For a little more space – but a little more noise – runners and their companions can take a jog along the grass median of San Vicente Boulevard between Santa Monica’s Ocean Avenue and Brentwood’s Bundy Drive. And for a great view of the San Gabriels, as well as a body of water of the manmade variety, the two-mile path around the Silver Lake Reservoir will give your two legs and your pet’s four a good workout.
Getting your dog on the sand can be a bit of a cat-and-mouse game, because most beaches prohibit dogs. Still, there are exceptions. Malibu’s scenic Leo Carrillo State Beach allows for leashed dogs, as long as they’re not in the busiest section, so they need to stay north of lifeguard tower No. 3. Further south, the three-acre Rosie's Dog Beach in Long Beach's Belmont Shore district is the only legal off-leash dog beach in L.A. County. Note: only one dog is allowed per adult human (if you have two dogs, bring a friend!). Finally, there’s another scenic, not-too-distant Los Angeles County beach known to be pretty lax about enforcing its no-dogs policy. Hint: it rhymes with Topanga.
Sometimes, your pet just wants some of that alone time to clear his or her crowded mind, and there’s nothing like a pet suite to do the trick. The Kennel Club LAX is a resort-type kennel where your buddy can get a pet massage and enjoy “yappy hour,” not to mention "paw"-dicures, toe polish and even kitty aerobics. Glassell Park’s Wagville goes more au naturel with its accommodations, complete with a 14,000-square-foot play area and field trips to local dog parks, though there’s also an in-house treadmill for the puppy workout. K9 Loft Boarding, which has locations in Sherman Oaks and Echo Park, gives worried pet-parents 24/7 Webcam access while providing a 2,000-square-foot, air-conditioned indoor play area for those dog days of summer. Finally, Hollywood’s D Pet Hotels lets your pooch be the star by offering amenities that include a 375-square-foot “Uber Suite” and 42-inch flat-screen TVs.
Pets are prohibited inside restaurants, but many restaurants allow for pets on patios, so a neighborhood or shopping district with a healthy number of cafes will give you a chance for you and yours to dine without getting hassled. Beverly Hills’ South Beverly Drive includes the Farm of Beverly Hills and Urth Café. The stretch of Ventura Boulevard through Encino has a number of eateries with patios. And the Los Feliz/Beachwood Canyon area includes the Alcove Café and Birds, both of which offer big portions and a pet-friendly attitude.
Griffith Park’s Travel Town Museum isn’t just for kids. The free-admission park, which chronicles rail history and includes dozens of trains for kids and kids-at-heart to explore, also has a miniature train where well-behaved pups can ride. For the ultimate Southern California, “cool wind in my fur” experience, though, few things beat a drive along Pacific Coast Highway, where furry friends can take in the ocean breeze from the South Bay all the way up to Malibu.
Danny King is a freelance reporter whose work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, New York Times and Daily Variety. King, who has been a staff reporter for Bloomberg News and the Los Angeles Business Journal, currently writes about subjects ranging from the travel industry to alternative-fueled vehicles. A native Angeleno, King lives with his family in either Los Feliz or Silver Lake – he’s still not sure which.