Road Trip Day 2: Pet-friendly SLO

This is a sequel to my previous entry Road Trip – Spring Edition

Next Stop: Lunch at Santa Barbara

5 things you should know before going to a restaurant with your pup if you desire an enjoyable dining experience:

  1. Check on Yelp (or other website you rely on) ahead to make sure the restaurant outdoor patio is dog-friendly. When in doubt, call the restaurant and confirm.
  2. Pick a time when it’s not the busiest time. After rush lunch hours or before the dinner crowd fills the restaurant is the best. You will get a better service and your dog will be more relaxed since it’s not chaotic.
  3. If you can find a table away from the high traffic area, grab it. When your dog is relaxed, you can also relax and enjoy your meal.
  4. Be courteous to other diners in the restaurant. Keep your dog near you and have him under your control at all times.
  5. If your dog does not have a good table manner at home, you might want to re-consider…at least for now until he is trained. There will be more people to beg and more food to steal. 🙂

We arrived at State & Fig around 1:30 PM. The cozy outdoor patio was inviting. We got a table in the back as I hoped. I asked for a water bowl for Xena. She drank some water, sniffed around then settled under the table. After the awesome hike, we were hungry. We relaxed and enjoyed our meal. I recommend their burger with fig jam! 😋 Don’t worry, I gave Xena after-hike treats so her belly was happy too.


I love driving through scenic Los Padres National Forest on route 154. Xena feels little uneasy when the altitude changes and the pressure in her ears bothers her. I wonder if her ears pop like ours. How else would they release the pressure? Me talking to her nonsense during that time seems to help her.

Next Stop: Pismo Beach

We arrived at Pismo Beach around 4 PM. We would be staying here for next 2 nights. Best Western Plus Shore Cliff Lodge received 5 bones on and it did not disappoint us. We got a dog-friendly room with an ocean view. There was a plenty of parking spaces close to the building entrance and conveniently, there was a Pet Relief Area (a small grass area) near the entrance. So far, so good. Then, we entered our room and found this welcome package for Xena. Pawsome!🐾  Now, I was impressed.


and Xena was impressed with the view from the patio and the pet play area below. The pet play area rocks! It is clean and very spacious. We played fetch there before dinner both evening. A poop bag dispenser is available as well.



Next day, after the free continental breakfast at the hotel (they have non-dairy options. Just ask!), we got on the road.

Destination: Justin Winery in Paso Robles

Justin Vineyard

Justin Winery is about 50 miles north from Pismo Beach. Another pretty drive. Outdoor shady patio and dining area are dog-friendly. Our wine steward brought out a water bowl and a treat for Xena.



Never been to a wine tasting room and would like to try? Here are some tips for wine tasting room etiquette if interested. Most wineries have dog-friendly patios. Some of them even allow dogs in their tasting rooms which is awesome! Just make sure to confirm by checking their website or calling them before you go. Here is a list of dog-friendly wineries in the Pismo Beach area if you’d rather stay near by the beach.

By the time we got back to the room, we all needed a nap. 🙂 That was pretty much the 2nd day of our trip and it was a nice day. I will continue with the last day of our trip in the next post. I can’t wait to tell you about the trail we explore! Best coastal hike with incredible views!


Cold Springs Trail to Montecito Peak

May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.  — Edward Abbey

Trailhead is located on E Mountain Drive in Santa Barbara. There is a wood sign at the trail.

With canopies of trees and a gradual incline, the trail started out nice and easy. We ran in to a couple of solo hikers with their dogs. I could tell they were doing a shorter hike. Good idea.. Hike to Montecito Peak would be too hot for the dogs at this time of the year. That’s why I made Xena sit out on this one. After a mile or so, we started to gain elevation. After a while, the dirt terrain changed to rocky and the slope got noticeably steeper. Eventually, we caught up with clouds.

imageThe shade of the rocks changed from light yellow to gold then to orange-ish yellow as we ascend. In this rocky area, this interesting vibrant plant was growing everywhere. Its stem and branches were covered with this burgundy rubbery looking layer and the outgrown branches were ripping the protective layer open. Nature is amazing, isn’t it?
After a while, the rocky terrain changed back to dirt and we hiked above the clouds.

And then, there was the tree. Just one tree.



We continued on. The last quarter mile or so to the peak was one of the hardest trail conditions I had to hike through. I don’t think I could’ve done it without my trekking poles. The slope was very steep and the loose dirt caused constant sliding. We had to work hard to not lose our footing and fall. There was a moment I thought I was crazy for wanting to do this on my birthday as I tried not to fall. Then, we reached the top. And the thought disappeared quickly as it came. The view was worth it.


The biggest heart-shaped rock yet!

After a short break, as we were getting ready to go back down, I found a shed snakeskin on a bush!! It’s a long one too. I was sitting close to it all along and didn’t even see it! It was scary and so cool at the same time. Hazel wanted to leave as soon as I spotted it. 🙂

Downhill is more challenging when you keep sliding.

We ran into a small snake on the way down. It definitely wasn’t the one that shed the skin. Nonetheless, all of us including the snake were nervous and alert. After a few minutes of stillness, the little guy began to move across the path. At the end, we all went on with our business and everyone was happy.

Details on this Hike:

  • Date: July 2015
  • Distance: 6.8 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 2243 ft
  • Dog-friendly

Happy Hiking!

Sisterly Birthday Celebration

July is my favorite month since I was a kid! I can’t believe how fast the month went by. Time flies when you are having fun. Right?! 🙂 My sister’s birthday is the day before mine. When we were kids, mom used to throw us one party. It was economical. As kids, we weren’t thrilled about having the combo party. Thinking back, not all kids were able to have birthday parties when I was a child in Korea so I realize as an adult that it was sweet of our mom.

Now as grown-ups, my sister and I still celebrate our birthdays together. If time allows, we try to make a quick getaway. Just two of us. We cherish our time together and have fun celebrating two days in a row. It’s funny how our views change as we get older. This year, we celebrated our birthdays in Santa Barbara.

On the eve of Hazel’s birthday, we hiked up to Inspiration Point to see the sunset. This dog-friendly, out and back trail is shared by hikers, trail runners and mountain bikes. With a short distance of 3.6 miles, it can be done in an hour if you are in a workout mode. Even though the limited street parking may be a challenge on weekends but on a weekday evening, we easily found a spot. We started around 6:30 pm. The trail was mostly in the shade by that time. That was a nice surprise because it was unusually hot for Santa Barbara.

Another hiker warned us about a snake on the top as we passed each other. When we reached Inspiration Point, it was nowhere to be found. Instead, we were greeted by fantastic 180 degrees of ocean view!

Next day, we celebrated Hazel’s birthday with wine tasting in Paso Robles. It is about 130 miles north of Santa Barbara. The scenic route 154 was a lovely drive. It was our first time in Paso Robles. What a lovely place! ♡ We decided to make Paso Robles an annual trip. We will probably stay in San Luis Obispo though.

Wine tasting in Justin.

Wine tasting in Daou

I love this picture of Hazel. It’s not easy to capture her natural smile in pictures. She was happy and I was able to capture the moment.

At night, Hazel kept talking to me in the bed in an effort to keep us stay up…as usual. I responded to her as usual, “Go to sleep! It’s my turn!” before turning off the light. We both laughed and soon we fell asleep. Hazel before me as usual.

Message on a Stone.. Jesusita Trail

This is a sequel to my previous entry We Love You, Santa Barbara.

When I went to bed the night before, I planned to hit the trails early that morning. But when I woke up, it was overcast and it even drizzled a little on and off. So instead, I got myself a soy latte from Starbucks then stayed in our comfortable room in Beach House Inn and watched Charmed on TNT. It was cozy and relaxing.

By the time we reached the trailhead, it was 10:30 am. Due to the overcast skies, it was nice and cool. Just the way I like it. The trailhead was easy to find from San Roque Rd in Mission Canyon. Free street parking was available across from the trailhead.

After about 0.1 miles, Jesusita Trail met Arroyo Burro Trail. We turned right and stayed on Arroyo Burro for about 0.6 miles. At that point, we met up with Jesusita again. The ascent was gradual during the first two miles which makes this hiking suitable for all levels.

We passed two picnic areas. The first one was located approximately 0.5 miles from the trailhead. If you are hiking with small children, that could be a good midpoint of your hike. It’s a nice way to introduce hiking to little children I think. Don’t forget to bring water and snacks. The second picnic area was about a mile away from the first one.

Roughly 2 miles in to hiking, there were 4 big steps we had to climb. I definitely like mountain terrain better than sandy desert terrain. After that, switchbacks started and the ascent grew steeper. So much fun! I didn’t see it on the way up because I was busy climbing but I am glad I got to see this lovely message on my way down. It made me smile.

Jesusita is an out and back trail so you can turn around anytime. I know it’s just a mental thing but it is hard for me to turn around when I am on a loop trail. I don’t like the feeling of quitting in the middle of something. When we got up high on the mountains passed the clouds (which was really cool), it was sunny up there and it was hot. The temperature was noticeably different when we got out of the clouds, maybe 10+ degrees hotter. I didn’t want to push it with Xena so I turned us around at 2.5 miles. The entire trail would’ve been 8.4 miles in total but we hiked 5 miles that morning.

The most memorable thing about Jesusita was that the scenery kept changing. It kept me interested.

We had an awesome time on Jesusita. We met friendly wildfire firefighters, hikers, hiking dogs and trail runners. I can’t wait to go back and complete the hike. I will start early next time! 🙂 Happy hiking!


More details on this hike:

  • Dogs are allowed off leash
  • Distance:  5 miles
  • Elevation gain:  946 ft (trail info at the trailhead is incorrect)
  • Location:  1251 San Roque Rd, Santa Barbara, CA
  • No restroom

We Love You, Santa Barbara

These days, lots of places in Southern California market themselves as “dog-friendly” but in fact what they really mean is, they would reluctantly allow dogs only in certain areas in their establishments if it would attract more customers. It’s misleading but also is disappointing if you go to a restaurant and find this out. Sometimes, dogs can’t even sit with their owners on the patio at a restaurant. They have to be on the street outside of the patio.

On the contrary, Santa Barbara was a truly dog friendly town and I loved exploring it with Xena. We got in town right before the busy lunch time as planned. Our first stop was Metropulos Fine Foods on E Yanonali St. I got us a cozy table in the corner away from the busy part of the outdoor patio of the restaurant. Here, you order inside and they bring the food out to you. Food was as good as the reviews and the patio had a laid-back, friendly atmosphere.

Xena displays an excellent ‘sit’ hoping she can get a piece of my turkey sandwich.

The next stop was Arroyo Burro beach. I read good reviews about this dog beach so I decided to check it out. We didn’t check the tide schedule before we went so what we saw was a small beach. It was fine by me because the beach wasn’t crowded. I liked the free parking but what’s up with all the washed up seaweed? They were everywhere! And they had hundreds of tiny flies (they didn’t bite but it was so gross). Xena didn’t seem to mind though. She inspected almost every single one of seaweed piles. But.. since I am the driver, no thank you.. Huntington dog beach will remain as our go-to beach.

Once we had our fill at the beach, we headed to Beach House Inn on W. Yanonali Street. The courtyard was quaint and welcoming. The owner welcomed both of us and gave us a key to the room (lucky number) #7. It seemed everyone who stayed there was travelling with a dog. $10 pet fee per pet per night is very reasonable and the location was great – two blocks from the beach. The room was very spacious and clean. Even with all the dogs staying at the place, it was quiet and peaceful at night. I could see why this place got 5 bones on

beach house inn

(Photo: Beach House Inn website)

Within walking distance – in my book, that means less than 0.5 miles – I was able to find a lot of things to do. Gosh, what would I do without Yelp! Oh, how does wine tasting sound? Yep, definitely! I changed in to something cute and appropriate for wine tasting then we headed out. Municipal Winemaker was a truly dog-friendly place. Xena was allowed inside and off-leash. Paola at Municipal Winemaker was just awesome! She was attentive to both of us entire time we were there. She welcomed Xena with a dog biscuit and Xena showed her that she can do ‘shake’ (which earned her another biscuit!) I had so much fun chatting up with Paola and tasting their summer collection. She even poured me their Zinfandel and Syrah (not part of their summer collection) to taste. I ended up buying both bottles! $12 for 5 tasting. Well, in my case, 6 tasting. Everyone was friendly to Xena. Some customers even took some pictures of her wandering around the tasting room to show their friends. 🙂

Wine tasting made me hungry. We walked to a Thai restaurant to pick up my dinner and came back to Beach House Inn. West Beach neighborhood is quaint. I will definitely go back! Next day was reserved for hiking. I was looking forward to checking out a new trail. I will save the hiking experience at Jesusita Trail for another post. You know I have to have a separate post for hiking. 🙂

Even though I brought Xena’s bed on the trip, she wanted to be on the bed with me. I think she was a little bit anxious, being in a new place and all. Ok.. just this time.. (probably not true ;-)) We had a fun day, we went to bed happily. Xena started to snore softly before I felt asleep.