San Mateo County encompasses a large swath of land in Northern California. As of 2010, California census statistics reported a growing population of 718, 451 residents, many of these residents are very wealthy Silicon Valley types. As with many beautiful locations in Northern California, there is a diverse group of residents, from the well-healed entrepreneur to the off-the-grid, free-spirited types. Winemakers, brewmasters, restaurant owners, farmers and hoteliers also make up this unique patchwork of land known as San Mateo County.
My husband and I, along with our faithful Labrador Retriever, embarked on a dog-friendly San Mateo County road trip during our stay on the San Francisco peninsula. Below is the map of our itinerary for this pet-friendly San Mateo County travel adventure.
We started our day trip in the car after a leisurely morning breakfast, if you want to pack more fun, or time at the beach into your road trip, allow more travel time. From our Los Altos hotel, we headed through Los Trancos Open Space Preserve. While we passed many weekend road warriors on their bicycles, we didn’t see many hikers; that’s because the open space in this area swallows up hikers – you will not feel crowded here. However, you will not be able to take your dog with you in many of these open space parks.
We asked the park ranger why the signs said NO DOGS ALLOWED and were told that it is so that the wild animals are not impacted. Yes, dogs poop and pee, but good pet owners clean up after their pets. Alas, we had to move on in search of greener pastures.
Our next stop was in the small community of La Honda at Alice’s Restaurant. Popular with the motorcycle crowd, this is a place to relax, have a beer and talk about the twisties. For the non-motorcycle riders, the motorcyclists love these back roads for their banked twisty turns.
From La Honda we moved toward the coast to the agricultural town of Pescadero. If you love goat cheese, or simply like to talk with the animals like Dr. Doolittle, you’ll want to stop at Harley Farms Goat Dairy.
Formerly a 1910 dairy farm, Dee Harley started her goat farm over 25 years ago and continues to operate this working dairy farm year-round. You’ll need to tie up your dog outside the historic wooden barn (no dogs allowed beyond the fence.) Be sure to step inside the rustic Cheese Shop, step up to the hayloft or pack a picnic basket and relax at the tables near the goat pasture. At the Cheese Shop you’ll be offered plenty of goat cheese samples, as well as olive oil and chocolate truffles infused with, you guessed it, goat cheese!
If you don’t want to pack a picnic, drive a little further to Duarte’s Tavern (pronounced Due Arts) for a bowl of their famous artichoke soup. They also sell pie here, but I recommend you continue on to Pie Ranch on Cabrillo Highway in Pescadero. Here, you will not only find pie and produce, you’ll see what a healthy sustainable food supply looks like in the form of a working farm. Pie Ranch and it’s Co-Founder & Co-Director Jered Lawson offers this “gem of a piece of land” to the public for educational opportunities. Once a month the ranch holds a work day and barn dance. I fondly remember our daughter coming home from volunteering at Pie Ranch and sharing what fun she had at the barn dance held in the evening. You’ll want to sign up in advance to participate.
Our next stop was in the city of Santa Cruz, no longer in San Mateo County. We stopped at Seabright Brewery for a beer and light appetizers before our drive back to Los Altos. This Santa Cruz Brewery is very dog-friendly. In fact, the waitress brought our dog a bowl of water as soon as she put in our order. I’d say that most every table on the patio had a dog resting by the owner’s feet. By the way, I wasn’t partaking in alcohol this trip and I would never recommend that you drink and drive.
Our final stops on our San Mateo County road trip were at Ben Lomond and Monte Bello Open Space Preserve before ending back at Enchante Hotel in Los Altos. I’m not including my typical “If You Go Section or Insider Tips because I linked to all of the stops we made on our day trip. Actually my travel tip would be to pack water for yourself and your dog in the car. It’s always best to be prepared when taking any type of road trip. Happy travels!