When thinking about summer getaways with your dog in California, think cool. Think water. Think spectacularly scenic and away from bright lights and big cities. Here are a few special places that will surely put a smile on your dog’s snout.
North Coast. The redwoods are fat and the North Coast beaches are often leash-free and cooled by a blanket of fog. Take an unleashed hike on the wild side at the magnificent coastal 62,000-acre King Range National Conservation Area  in Shelter Cove, and stay at the Halcyon Inn Bed & Breakfast  in Eureka. And don’t miss the Avenue of the Giants, a 31-mile route through some of the biggest redwoods in the world (including Luna, made famous by Julia Butterfly Hill’s extended stay).
South Lake Tahoe. Your dog can swim in the sparkling blue waters of Lake Tahoe and fish with you on a charter boat. Spend the night at the cozy cottages of Holly’s Place , with its leash-free 2.5 enclosed acres, and dine outdoors at the very hip and dog-friendly FiRE + iCE , right under the Heavenly gondola.
Mono County. A visit to the strange and ancient Mono Lake is about the closest you’ll come to exploring another planet. It’s an otherworldly must-see, but far too salty for dog paddling. Save the swimming for the nearby beautiful Eastern Sierra lakes, Lake Mary or June Lake, for example. Like ghost towns? Sleep at the lovely, super-dog-friendly Edelweiss Lodge, in Mammoth Lakes .
Cambria. A seaside haven, Cambria opens its sandy arms to the canine set. Cambria is home to a very popular dog park, but if you like more space, head to the 440-acre Fiscalini Ranch Preserve , where dogs can trot around off leash along one mile of heavenly oceanfront.
Big Bear Lake. The lakeside mountain resort community Big Bear Lake in southern San Bernardino County boasts crisp, clean alpine air year round—a real boon in these parts. You and your dog can hike, swim, rent a boat and ride right behind horse heinies on a Bear Valley Stage Lines stagecoach. Dog-friendly lodgings abound. Try Big Bear Frontier Cabins & Hotel , right on the lake, or Golden Bear Cottages , where each cute, pet-friendly cabin sports its own little fenced yard.