Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A dog-friendly weekend at Huntington Beach (and beyond)

When we moved to LA from NYC, I had a dream. A dream of jumping into my car and driving away from the city for 1-2 hours and spending a quick weekend away whenever I felt like it. It would be beautiful, outdoorsy and Stewie would come with us. And, of course, I'd score an awesome last-minute cabin/camp site/hotel/bed and breakfast deal for cheap and everything would just fall into place on its own.

But did it ever happen? Nope.

It's tough doing weekend getaways, even though it's what Los Angeles is made for, what with Malibu and Santa Barbara to the west, Big Bear Lake and Palm Springs to the east and San Diego to the south. I quickly discovered that doing an overnight trip on a regular two-day weekend felt too rushed...and when would we get our laundry done?? And anytime a three-day weekend came around, everything (including bare camp sites) would book up way too fast. It was also complicated to bring Stewie with us. And those last-minute deals I thought I could get? They never seemed to materialize, even while searching for them at midnight the day before. In fact, everything I found was twice as expensive than usual.

They never materialized, that is, until this past Memorial Day weekend!

Everything finally fell into place for once. We didn't have anything scheduled for the weekend, it wasn't supposed to rain and we found a really awesome last-minute deal for a hotel in Orange County. And we finally got to go to a place we've had our eye on ever since we moved out here: Huntington Dog Beach.

But before we hit the dog beach, we stopped by the Park Bench Cafe for breakfast. It was a really cute almost all outdoor restaurant that's semi-integrated into the park it's located in. It's famous for its dog friendliness and even has a menu where you can order food just for your pet. Literally every party there had at least one dog with them, including several HUGE dogs whose heads easily went over the tops of the tables!

So Stewie got his first ever restaurant meal--cooked chicken breast! The dish on the menu was called the "Bow wow wow." Here he is waiting for his breakfast (he's in the shade under our table):

So tasty, isn't it Stewie?

N and I got a couple egg dishes which were surprisingly good. There were dog water bowls everywhere and a big container where you could go refill your dog's water whenever you liked. It was a really cute cafe; we'd definitely go back! 

After breakfast, we headed to Huntington Beach. It's a super long stretch of beach and it was pretty crowded when we went. You're technically not allowed to have your dogs off leash, but no one pays attention to the rules. Since there were so many dogs and people, Stewie couldn't relax. He kept climbing into our laps and trying to get us to pick him up to save him from the other dogs who wanted to sniff his butt. What a wuss.

Showing Stewie a neat shell I found (there were a ton of really cool shells on this particular beach):

On the bike path that goes for miles along the shore:

And finally, one of the rare moments when Stewie lost track of the waves and actually ended up in the water (he usually dances just out of reach of the ocean):

We stayed at the Westin Hotel in Costa Mesa for one night. The chain is really dog-friendly; they allow all dogs under 40 lbs for no extra charge. They also provided us with this Westin-branded dog bed for Stewie. They usually provide food and water bowls, too, but they ran out the night we were there. There were a ton of the dogs at the hotel.

Altogether a very successful weekend trip! Huntington Dog Beach was very nice, but it wasn't the best place for Stewie. A little too crowded and active for his tastes, so he couldn't fully relax and have fun. He definitely likes Arroyo Burro in Santa Barbara much better.

Another plus to this trip was that we were able to stop by Buena Park on the drive home and go to Portillo's. I love Portillo's! We got italian beef sandwiches and the very friendly staff brought a bowl of water out for Stewie. Stewie also got some cheese fries, too, of course.


stwabewwies said...

once again, all i can say is that stewie doesn't even know how good he has it. makes those first couple years living in the garage worth it.

debra said...

he got so much chicken at that restaurant that he actually took a break when he was scarfing it down! but he finished it off eventually.