They say that a dog is man’s best friend, but nowhere does this ring truer than in beautiful Carmel-by-the-Sea. Instead of simply admiring pooches from afar, this charming town coaxes them off the sidelines and into the fun. It’s no surprise that Carmel-by-the-Sea is ranked the #1 Dog Friendly Town in America – check out why the dog’s life is a good one here.
There’s no shortage of activities for furry friends and their humans in this coastal region. With temperatures averaging in the mid 60s, every day is a perfect day to get out and explore.
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Carmel Beach: Is there any better definition of doggie heaven than a vast off-leash dog beach? The white sand is bordered by large sand dunes, creating a scenic protected area for your dog to blow off some steam. Once they're tired out, plenty of kelp forests and tide pools will keep curious snouts busy while humans take in the salty views. While dogs are allowed off-leash, they must be under voice control.
Carmel River State Beach: For a different type of surf and sand experience, check out this mile-long beach where the Carmel River ends. Pets and humans alike will love checking out the variety of song birds and waterfowl at its protected bird sanctuary. Dogs must remain leashed.
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Garrapta State Park: Not beached out just yet? Take Fido to this two-mile beach shared with sea otters, harbor seals, and sea lions. During whale migration season, you might even catch a glimpse of a California gray whale! Dogs are only allowed on the beach and must remain leashed (6-foot maximum length).
Garland Ranch Regional Park: This expansive park is a canine’s delight, boasting varied terrain and elevations from 200 to 2,000 feet. While dogs explore the trails and vegetation, their humans can take in historic Rumsen Indian habitation sites, homesteads, and hunting remains. From hiking to horseback riding to mountain biking, there is something for every outdoor enthusiast to enjoy. Dogs must be leashed or under immediate voice and visual control.
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Mission Trail Park: This beautiful park offers over 35 acres of entertainment in the form of a pine forest, a grove of oak trees, and scenic meadows. The trails begin at the Carmel Mission Basilica which is worth a visit on its own. Or, you and your pooch can start where Mountainview Avenue turns into Forest Road. Dogs are allowed off-leash, but must be under voice control.
Courtyards and Secret Passageways: Ever since Hugh Comstock built a small fairy tale cottage to house his wife’s doll collection in 1924, storybook cottages and courtyards have been the craze in Carmel-by-the-Sea. You and your dog can easily spend a day exploring the charming courtyards and hidden passageways throughout the village. If you’re interested in something more structured, both Carmel Walks and California Legacy Tours offer two-hour guided tours that welcome leashed dogs.
17-Mile Drive: When you and your pet are tired of walking – but don’t want the fun to stop – it’s a perfect time to embark on the world famous 17-Mile Drive. Running from Pebble Beach to Pacific Grove, the toll is $10 and provides access to stunning coastline, rugged trails, and picturesque beaches. Don’t forget to give Fido a window seat for all the wonderful sea scents! Leashed dogs are welcome at all sites along the route.
With all the unique wares available in the artists’ haven of Carmel-by-the-Sea, it’s hard to resist a little shopping. And what better way to indulge in some retail therapy than with man’s best friend? Fortunately, many shops in this dog-friendly town will cater to both of you.
Carmel Plaza: There’s no better place to start than here, a pet-friendly retail heaven located along Ocean Avenue. Check out the Fountain of Woof in the plaza’s courtyard and make sure your dog takes a sip – it’s considered good luck. Well-behaved leashed dogs are welcome in many of the plaza’s shops and eateries.
Diggidy Dog: Why should humans have all the fun? This boutique offers a wide assortment of unique pet supplies, clothing, and delicious-looking treats for your favorite four-legged friend. Be prepared for the approachable staff to fawn over your pet. Well-behaved humans are welcome.
The Raw Connection: A healthy dog is a happy dog, and this store focuses on keeping your canine in tip-top shape. From raw to grain-free to supplemented, there are few dog diets this store can’t accommodate. Check out the selection of dog training classes as well.
Rodrigue Studio: Affectionately known as Galerie Blue Dog (Blue Dog Gallery), the gallery boasts paintings inspired the artist’s beloved dog Tiffany (now deceased) and a mythical ghost dog. Staffers are dog lovers who will gladly share the story behind Blue Dog while offering your pooch a treat.
Carmel Art Association: Founded in 1927, this is the city’s oldest art gallery as well as a non-profit organization dedicated to presenting premier local pieces. Featuring the works of over 100 artists, this gallery can easily keep you and your pet in thoughtful contemplation for hours. Well-behaved leashed dogs are welcome.
After a day of recreation, walking, and shopping, you and your canine are bound to have an appetite. In Carmel-by-the-Sea, you’re in luck. This foodie destination is low on chain restaurants and high on local flavor. A wide variety of mouthwatering cuisines are available for any palate – both human and dog alike.
Forge in the Forest: Built in 1944, this restaurant has been voted the best outdoor dining experience in Monterey County since 1992 for its fabled gardens, foliage, and outdoor fireplaces. The New American menu offers a wide range of options for humans, while the robust dog menu offers your pooch a feast worthy of a canine king. Evening is a magical time with beautifully strung lights.
PortaBella: This popular upscale restaurant earns rave reviews for its quality local cuisine, proving that a romantic ambience CAN be dog friendly. Diners accompanied by furry friends are seated outdoors or on an enclosed patio complete with white tablecloths and candles. Try the grilled Spanish octopus – and don’t leave without sampling the pistachio ice cream!
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Little Napoli: Solid Italian and warm hospitality are the hallmarks of this Carmel institution. Bring the kids and the dogs to dine on the outside patio, and enjoy the addicting garlic bread and crowd-pleasing pizzas.
Casanova: This favorite serves rustic French-Italian cuisine in an old house with dog-friendly patios. Pooches are welcomed with biscuits and bowls of water while you peruse the extensive wine menu. Sample the spinach gnocchi.
Club Jalapeno: Sometimes you’re jonesin’ for a good margarita – and this establishment doesn’t disappoint. Located in a quaint courtyard, the restaurant offers Mexican favorites and a dog-friendly patio. Pups are offered water and, sometimes, nibbles of chicken.
Others: Check out this list for even more local restaurants that welcome dogs. Want to try a place not listed? Look for doggie bowls outside; you might be pleasantly surprised.
A day in Carmel-by-the-Sea isn’t complete without the taste of some of the region’s best red and white varietals. Although dogs can’t indulge, they can accompany you to many of the local wine tasting rooms. Cheers!
Wine Tasting Rooms
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Galante Vineyards: Known for being the town’s first wine tasting room, the owner’s great-grandfather was the founder of Carmel-by-the-Sea. The Cabernet Sauvignon is recognized as one of the best in Monterey County. The rustic setting is homey and welcomes well-behaved dogs.
Taste Morgan: Sample the latest vintages of this artisan wine in a comfortable space with great service. With reasonable tasting fees and a selection of unique wine-themed gifts for purchase, it’s easy to while away an afternoon here. Best of all, Fido is welcome to join.
Caraccioli Cellars: Specializing in Sparkling, Rose, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir, this charming tasting room excels in service and fun. Pups are adored and enjoy spreading out on the cool concrete floors while their humans sample bubbly and cheese.
Others: There are numerous wine tasting rooms in Carmel-by-the-Sea, with a few of the top listed here. Most happily welcome dogs. If you're planning to make a day of it, check out the Wine Walk-by-the-Sea, which includes a passport for wine tastings at up to nine tasting rooms of your choice.
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Terry’s Lounge at Cypress Inn: Located inside of the famed 1929 hotel, this lounge is known for its exceptional dog-friendliness. Classic cocktails are served along with Mediterranean fare at this landmark graced by Hollywood’s Golden Age elite. Yappy Hour is held 4:30pm-6:00pm Monday through Friday and is a great time (though not the only time) to bring your pet.
Hog’s Breath Inn: This pub and eatery formerly owned by actor Clint Eastwood has a popular Happy Hour complete with its own Hog’s Breath Pale Ale. Friendly dogs are welcome on the heated patio.
Once you and your pup have had your fill of entertainment, food, and drink, it’s time for some rest and relaxation. Fortunately, Carmel-by-the-Sea offers both of you the opportunity to unwind.
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Signature Paw Spa: When nothing but the best will do for your pooch, this is the place to go. Located in Pebble Beach, the facility offers cage-free doggy daycare, professional pet massage, preservative free food, comfortable spa beds, and a sun deck for relaxing. Perhaps the only complaint is that they don’t accept human clients! But alas – the nearby Spa at Pebble Beach is a worthy alternative, providing world class spa services and amenities to humans while they wait for their dogs.
As the sun begins to dip below the ocean’s horizon, you and your furry friend may begin looking for a place to catch some shut-eye. As with everything else in Carmel-by-the-Sea, there are many lodging options available that welcome both you and your pet. No boarding required!
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Cypress Inn: This 1929 landmark hotel is co-owned by actress and animal activist Doris Day and was a favorite haunt of celebrities of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Located within walking distance of virtually everything Carmel has to offer, it’s called “the most famous dog-friendly hotel in the country.” Dogs are encouraged to join their owners in the overnight guest rooms for a nominal fee, or in the famous hotel restaurant.
Carmel Valley Ranch: This picturesque resort offers 500 acres of scenic beauty, equestrian adventures, trails, and the only Pete Dye designed golf course in Northern California. With spacious suites (studio to 4-bedrooms) and an activity calendar bursting with recreation, this is the ultimate getaway. For a per-stay fee, dogs are welcomed with a dog bed, hiking trails waiting to be explored, and delicious treats from a specialized pet menu.
Carmel Country Inn: Known as Carmel’s most pet friendly bed and breakfast, this inn offers an outdoor doggy area, unlimited dog biscuits, and a doggy photo opportunity for their pet guest display in the lobby. Humans adore the comfortable one and two-bedroom suites along with the delicious breakfast buffet. A nominal nightly fee is charged for each pet.
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Happy Landing Inn: With scenic gardens, cathedral ceilings, and stained glass windows, this boutique inn offers seven unique rooms to choose from. The property is 100% dog friendly and within walking distance of Carmel Beach and a variety of shops, galleries, and boutiques. Up to two dogs are welcome for a small overnight fee.
Tradewinds Carmel: Voted one of the world’s top inns, this elegant boutique hotel offers a unique fusion of tropical and Asian design with views of the Pacific Ocean. Dogs are welcome for a small nightly fee – and will likely be greeted by Sweetie, the resident cat.
Others: Interested in other lodging options? Check out this list – with many to choose from, you’re sure to find one that suits both you and your favorite four-legged friend.