Living It Up In Laguna Beach
The locals called Laguna Beach the Resort for all Seasons. This quaint beach town hugs seven miles of Southern California’s magnificent Pacific Ocean coastline and is a wonderful eclectic mix of art galleries, side walk cafes and interesting stores. It is the year-round host to numerous popular events such as the renowned Pageant of the Masters and other festivals and also boast’s lots of dog-friendly attractions making it the perfect Fido-friendly travel destination.
We decided to ask a local canine celebrity a Pomeranian named Lola and her pet parent Melissa Hudson to give us a guided tour of all the pet-friendly places and activities that collectively make the area a much sought-after doggy destination.
Indeed everyone in town knows Lola. When she’s not out promoting her range of organic canine beauty products aptly named Lola in Laguna, www.lolainlaguna.com she leads a very active social life and had a wonderful itinerary all sniffed out for us in advance.
Five Star Canine Luxury
Comfortably seated in the leopard print and black interior of Lola’s customized limo, sipping freshly squeezed Californian orange juice, our first stop was to check in at the St. Regis Resort, Monarch Beach, a mere tail wag from Laguna’s recreational hubbub. With its Tuscan architecture framed by exotic tropical plants and set against backdrop of a lush green golf course and the azure ocean beyond, it is without doubt a luxurious retreat and instantly offered the promise of a much pampered weekend getaway.
Lola’s arrival brought out a bevy of hotel staff to welcome us and take care of the luggage and check-in arrangements. The resort offers a special pet package for a minimum two-night stay that takes care of all pet accommodation and requirements and includes personalized silver food and water bowls, a selection of barkery biscuit delights and even some designer toys such a squeaky bottle of Dog Perignon and a Jimmy Chew shoe.
The cool tastefully decorated room had a comfortable downy doggy bed specially designed for the comfort of canine guests and sporting the St Regis motif. The personalized welcome letter spelt out the various dog-sitting and other services available via the concierge desk.
Apart from its excellent selection of restaurants, bars and pools, the resort is famous for its spa facilities at Spa Gaucin, an oasis filled with soothing fountains known the world-over for its couples retreats and its signature treatment the Coastal stone massage, a gentle rejuvenation therapy using heated basalt stones and Swedish massage techniques.
While we enjoyed a massage, a doggy sitter organized by the concierge took Lola out for a walk along the magnificent garden paths to enjoy the ocean breeze and the perennial Californian sunshine.
Trendy eating places for the pet set
Refreshed, it was time to get back in the Limo and explore downtown Laguna Beach . There is no shortage of casual pet-friendly eating establishments from the outdoor food emporium on the corner of Broadway and the Pacific Coast Highway to restaurants such as The Cottage 308 N. Coast Highway and Café Vienna 315422 Pacific Coast Highway. However, our destination was Madison Square and Garden Café at 320 N Coast Highway where dogs of all sizes are welcome to relax in a picturesque garden setting.
This is a popular haunt for locals and offers an extensive selection of breakfast fare, as well as salads and sandwiches perfectly complimented by a glass of chilled imported champagne. It also has a wonderful gift store to browse with a unique selection of garden-orientated decorative pieces.
Zinc Café on 350 Ocean Avenue is another popular dog hang-out. Apart from the outdoor sit-down area, the market section offers a wonderful selection of deli delights. The Laguna Beach canine set often call ahead and pick-up a mouthwatering array of salads, fresh bread and cheese or their famous egg salad sandwich and head off to picnic on the beach.
This tiny resort sports 30 beaches and coves. In the summer months, (June 1 through September 16) dogs are allowed on most beaches before 8.00am and after 6.00pm. To compensate, there is the Laguna Beach Dog Park situated at 133 Laguna Canyon Road . It’s open daily from dawn to dusk and closed on Wednesdays for maintenance.
For the rest of the year (September 17 through to May 31) there are no time restrictions on the beaches and a picnic on the sand is a popular dog-friendly pastime.
During the off season, dogs are also welcome to attend Laughter Yoga sessions held north of Main Beach . Sessions are held Sunday through Friday at 7.45 am and at 5.30 pm on Saturdays.
“Laughter Yoga is a practice integrating therapeutic laughter exercises and yoga breathing to enhance both the state of the mind and that of the physical body,” explains instructor Jeffrey Briar. “Dogs are welcome to join in and bark in delight.”
Dogs and Art
Laguna Beach ‘s famous Art Walk that takes places on the first Thursday of every month also has a Fido-friendly stamp on it. Participating galleries stay open until around 9.00 p.m., serve cheese and wine and allow visitors plenty of time to browse exhibitions showcasing a variety of paintings, sculpture, glass, folk art and artifacts as well as European and Asian antiques. There is also a free shuttle that runs between the participating galleries starting at the Laguna Beach Museum on the corner of Cliff Drive and the Pacific Coast Highway . For more information, call 949-683-6871.
Other fun stuff – dogs welcome
Of course you don’t have to join the Art Walk to enjoy the more than 100 galleries that have made this a famous artist colony on the tourist map. Most of them are open seven days a week and many of them offer doggy treats and a chilled bowl of water for canine visitors.
For anyone who enjoys cheese and wine, be sure to book for the weekly Cheese and Wine tastings held every Thursday evening between 5.00 pm and 7.00 pm at the Laguna Culinary Arts at 845 Laguna Canyon Road . It’s a great way to get an informal education about new wines and complementing cheeses. It costs $15 per person and once again there’s chilled water for Fido to imbibe.
Laguna Beach is not only famous for its art, outdoor activities and beautiful beaches but also for its magnificent sunsets. So at the end of our first day, under Melissa’s direction, we drove along the coast watching the sun sink on the horizon and finally our limo driver John headed for Eva’s Caribbean Kitchen 31732 S. Coast Highway famous of its rum cocktails. The restaurant boasts more than 25 different kinds of rum in the bar.
This is where Lagunatics and their dogs go to sip Pink Punanis, guava juice blended with a choice of rum, tequila and vodka, (water on the rocks for canines) or Melissa’s canine-inspired favorite The Dry Old Bitch, a choice of vodka, a drop of dry Vermouth and an olive.
For the dog-tired it’s without doubt the perfect place to end a fun day.
• Laguna Beach has a resident population of around 25 000 and is located midway between Los Angeles and San Diego . It is accessible from both the Los Angeles and San Diego international airports with closest proximity to Orange County Airport (SNA) in Irvine .
• For more information about the Pet Package at the St Regis, contact 1-800-722-1543 or visit www.stregismb.com .
• The town also boasts a variety of other pet-friendly accommodation in all price brackets. Contact the Laguna Beach Visitors Bureau at 1- 800- 877-1115 or www.lagunabeachinfo.org. They also have extensive up-to date lists of all pet-friendly venues and events.
This article is from Fido Friendly