Have you been wondering about visiting dog friendly Carmel? I’ve got you covered!

Carmel-by-the-sea is a quaint coastal enclave on California’s Monterey Peninsula. This is one of our favorite places to visit. We have been coming here for over 10 years, especially when traveling with our dogs. It is not far from San Francisco so it is a great weekend getaway for us.

Carved wooden sign that says, "Cottage of Sweets" in Dog Friendly Carmel

Why is Carmel the best dog friendly town in California?

The town exudes a unique European charm, blending it perfectly with its stunning natural beauty and a lively town center. People love strolling along ocean avenue. Filled with dog friendly activities with local shops that welcome dogs and humans alike, it is no wonder this is a top destination. Carmel is also recognized far and wide as one of Northern California’s top romantic retreats. Right off of the pacific coast highway, it has won the distinction of being North Bay’s most dog-friendly coastal town.

The Barnyard Shopping Center in Carmel at night with the string lights and landscaping make it very welcoming

The best time to visit Carmel with a dog

Dog friendly Carmel is great to visit all year-round. It is a very popular day trip for folks in the Bay Area. It is just a quick drive down the pacific coast highway, perfect for a day trip from San Francisco. So it can often be bustling, even during off-peak times.

Due to its mild climate, Carmel is an ideal winter hideaway in California. To avoid the crowds, the best approach is to visit during the quieter early weekdays, specifically Monday and Tuesday evenings. For dogs that are sensitive to loud noises, like our Denver, Carmel can be a quieter refuge during the July 4th fireworks, since fireworks are not allowed.

Exploring Downtown Carmel

Downtown Carmel is super dog-friendly, making it a dream destination for dog owners. Dogs are also welcomed in most stores, making it a great place to explore. As you stroll down ocean avenue through the town center, you’ll encounter picturesque streets, charming signage, and quaint little shops that add to its allure. Secret paths open up to reveal more hidden surprises along the way.

The town also boasts a variety of dog-friendly restaurants with outdoor seating as well as dog friendly hotels, ensuring a comfortable and memorable stay for both you and your canine companion

The storefront for "Carmel Dog Shop" in dog-friendly Carmel-by-the-Sea

Dog Friendly Restaurants in Carmel

There are numerous dog-friendly restaurants where you can enjoy a meal with your pup. Many restaurants in the area warmly welcome dogs in their outdoor seating areas. There are many opportunities to enjoy the fresh local flavors. You should have no problems tracking down a dog friendly restaurant for you and your constant companion.

  1. Forge in the Forest: A charming restaurant with a beautiful outdoor patio, Forge in the Forest not only serves delicious food but also provides a dedicated dog menu, ensuring your pup is treated to the ultimate pet friendly dining experience.
  2. PortaBella: Situated in the heart of Carmel, this dog friendly Carmel restaurant delights with its Italian cuisine and dog-friendly patio, allowing you to savor traditional flavors while your four-legged companion lounges by your side.
  3. Lafayette Bakery & Café: This cozy café is a perfect spot to enjoy a casual breakfast or lunch with your dog. The outdoor seating area offers a relaxed atmosphere, and you can indulge in delectable baked goods and savory dishes.
  4. Dutch Door Donuts: Treat your doggo and yourself. You will need to order and eat outside, but this popular place has menu items specific for your pup.
  5. Terry’s Lounge & Restaurant: Located at the Cypress Inn, this lovely eatery has pet friendly patio dining with a special menu catering to pups.

You can’t go wrong with all the choices in the area! There is sure to be something that both you and your doggo can agree on.

Carmel offers an endless number of activities that will create unforgettable memories with your furry companion. At these iconic Carmel destinations, you are definitely going to want to take photos of your pets.

We would love to see your Carmel pics! Have fun with our caption generator and share them with us on IG

Border terrier in a backpack with his head poking out. Sitting under a table with food like potatoes

Next time, I’d like to see a puppuccino on this menu! ☕” (created by Snap2Caption)

Pick the tone you want, then briefly describe the scene, focusing on what is important for your caption.

Only 5 requests per visit! This is a new tool, so we are limiting the number of requests. If you run into any problems, hit us up on X/Twitter: @petsatw or Instagram: @petsaroundtheworld_emily

Norwich terrier standing in front of the treat counter at Diggity Dog store in Carmel-by-the-Sea

Diggidy Dog

No trip is complete until your dog has a chance to wish this popular boutique pet store. Try on the latest doggy fashion, and peruse a huge selection of toys and accessories.

There are bins and cubbies overflowing with gourmet dog treats, including desserts tailored to canine taste buds. The wide selection of delightful treats are made with dog-friendly ingredients, ensuring that your furry friend can enjoy a dessert of their own.

Denver didn’t want to sit still for me to play dress-up, but they have a pet dressing station for you to try on various hats, sweaters, harnesses, etc. to see if they fit before buying.

Dog-Friendly Beaches and Parks

A sunset vista overlooking Carmel Beach. Blooming flowers are in the foreground.

Carmel-by-the-Sea is a big hit, thanks to the scenic white sand beaches and parks of Monterey County. These are great places for dog walks, especially the dog friendly Carmel Beach and Carmel River Beach. Off-leash dogs are free to roam at Carmel Beach as long as they are well behaved while leashed pets can enjoy Carmel River beach. Beyond the beaches, the town’s trails also offer unrestricted access, making it an ideal spot for a fun day out with your pup. Popular parks like the National Forest Park and Garland Park welcome four-legged visitors too. Plus, biodegradable bags are conveniently provided at both beach and trail entrances, making it easy to clean up after your pet. This commitment to keeping Carmel’s outdoor spaces clean and dog-friendly only adds to the town’s charm.

A Norwich Terrier is standing on dog-friendly Carmel Beach

Carmel Beach

Carmel Dog Beach, located in Carmel-by-the-Sea, is one of the best dog friendly activities around. Known for its lovely and dog friendly beach, the town captures the heart of many dog owners. It’s probably the most dog friendly beach in Northern California, it is situated at the end of Ocean Avenue. Blue waters meet white sand beach in this beautiful place, right at the edge of town.

Carmel beach dogs are allowed off leash, so enjoy the sandy beach all year round, even during the colder winter months. One of the best, this makes Carmel Dog Beach a go-to destination for any dog owner.

As a coastal town Carmel experiences cold mornings and warm evenings, so you might need layers, even at the beach.

Garrapata Beach

If you’re seeking a dog-friendly place away from the crowds at Carmel Beach, Garrapata Beach along the Pacific Coast Highway is an excellent option. With its scenic location along a straight stretch of Highway 1, it’s an ideal dog-friendly beach to visit. You and your dog can enjoy the tranquility that comes with fewer crowds, all while basking in the breathtaking beauty of the Pacific ocean.

Can dogs go to Pebble Beach?

Yes, leashed dogs are permitted at Pebble Beach, so it is a popular attraction in pet friendly Carmel. You and furry friend can take in the beautiful views and brisk sea air. Even on chilly Carmel mornings, it’s a fantastic place for a walk or a play session by the shoreline. Just remember to keep your dog on a leash at all times, respecting the rules and ensuring the beach remains a welcoming place for everyone.

What beaches in California are pet friendly?

California’s sunny shores are a paradise for dogs, with many beaches welcoming our furry friends. Typically the state beaches require leashed dogs, but in many places there are off leash areas as well. Monterey County and the Big Sur area are no different. Pet friendly Carmel Beach is just one of many great places to kick off the shoes and enjoy the views.

Carmel is surrounded by dog-friendly beaches that offer stunning views, fresh sea air, and lots of space for fun. Among these, five beaches stand out: Carmel Beach, known for its charm; Garrapata Beach, a peaceful dog walking retreat; Del Monte Beach in Monterey, with its scenic beauty; Asilomar State Beach in Pacific Grove, loved for its variety; and the iconic Pebble Beach. Each one provides a unique experience, making them one of the best dog friendly activities as you explore California’s coastline.

Are dogs allowed on the beach in Monterey CA?

Yes, dogs are definitely welcome on many beaches in Monterey, CA! As with most state beaches, even though they are pet friendly beaches, your dog will need to be on the leash.

Dog-Friendly Hotels in Carmel-by-the-Sea

We are constantly surprised by the number of dog friendly hotels in Carmel. No question you can find almost any type of accommodation to meet your needs. Here are three of our top recommendations, but you can find others in our review of Carmel’s Dog-friendly Hotels: The Top 11 Places to Stay.

Carmel Valley Ranch

One standout dog friendly hotel is the beautiful boutique Carmel Valley Ranch. This pet-friendly hotel ensures a memorable stay with its thoughtful amenities and warm hospitality. From a huge property to explore to indulgent room service dining options tailored specifically for pets, Carmel Valley Ranch goes above and beyond to make your pet feel right at home.

🤩 Check Prices and Availability!

The front of the Cypress Inn. The hotel is elegant with white paint and black trim and gold highlights.

Cypress Inn

Cypress Inn is a remarkable hotel among the many dog-friendly accommodations in Carmel, California. It is is owned by the esteemed animal activist and actress, Doloris Day. In such a luxurious setting it is no surprise that Cypress Inn has become renowned as the ultimate pet-friendly destination, offering a wide range of top-notch amenities designed to cater to every dog’s needs. This pet friendly Carmel hotel is dedicated to providing a warm and welcoming environment for our furry friends. Cypress Inn has earned its reputation as a beloved choice for those seeking an exceptional dog friendly hotel in Carmel.

🤩 Check Prices and Availability!

A Norwich Terrier is standing in front of the sign for Vagabond House Inn

Vagabond’s House Inn

A charming and historic bed and breakfast in the heart of Carmel-by-the-Sea. This boutique inn warmly welcomes four-legged friends, with specific pet-friendly rooms available to ensure comfort for both pets and their owners. These rooms feature easy outdoor access for your pet’s convenience, and the surrounding neighborhood offers plenty of space for walks. In addition to its pet-friendly policies, the inn serves a complimentary breakfast each morning, delighting guests with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients.

🤩 Check Prices and Availability!

Dog friendly wine tasting at Carmel-by-the-sea

The Carmel Valley wine region, located in Monterey County, California, is a distinct and diverse wine growing region recognized for its unique microclimates and fertile soil. Nestled amidst the picturesque Santa Lucia Range, it enjoys warm, sunny days moderated by cool maritime fog from the Pacific Ocean, creating an extended growing season that leads to full, complex flavors in the grapes.

Known for the Cabernet Sauvignons, Chardonnays, and expressive Pinot Noirs, the region is home to a number of small, family-owned vineyards producing a variety of unique wine varietals. This area is great to bring for pet parents to enjoy a more relaxed and intimate wine tasting experience with its boutique wineries, wine tasting rooms and rustic charm.

Here are some notable dog-friendly wineries and tasting rooms in Carmel:

Dawn’s Dream Winery: With a charming tasting room in downtown Carmel, Dawn’s Dream welcomes well-behaved dogs on leashes.

Silvestri Vineyards Tasting Room: This family-owned winery in Carmel-by-the-Sea allows dogs and their humans to enjoy their artisan wines.

Hahn Family Wines Tasting Room: Hahn’s downtown Carmel tasting room is pet-friendly. Their wines are produced from the Santa Lucia Highlands and Monterey County.

De Tierra Vineyards: known for producing award-winning, sustainably harvested, and estate-grown wines with a great dog friendly tasting room in downtown

A Norwich Terrier walking on a trail in Carmel, California

Dog Friendly hikes in Carmel

If strolling through the local shops is not your doggo’s idea of adventure, definitely hit a dog friendly hiking trail. There are plenty of places to stretch your legs and take in the views (and smells) of the coast. Here are just a few worth exploring.

Carmel River State Beach: This is an easy and flat trail that offers stunning coastal views and off-leash areas for dogs.

Garland Ranch Regional Park: This park offers a variety of trails from easy to strenuous, with dogs allowed on leashes. It’s known for its waterfall trail and stunning views of the Carmel Valley.

Mission Trail Nature Preserve: This park located in the heart of Carmel-by-the-Sea offers 5 miles of trails. Dogs are allowed but must be on leash.

Rip Van Winkle Open Space: This is a dog-friendly park with easy walking trails and a beautiful redwood grove. Dogs must be on a leash.

Fun dog friendly places and attractions

Fountain of Woof in Carmel Plaza: After visiting this lucky fountain dedicated to our furry friends, you can shop and explore the rest of this cute little plaza.

Mission Trail Park: Embark on a scenic adventure along picturesque trails where you and your pup can soak up the natural beauty, invigorating fresh air, and countless opportunities for bonding at Mission Trail Park.

Monterey Bay Whale Watch: Set sail on an unforgettable voyage alongside majestic marine giants, as you and your four-legged companion embark on an awe-inspiring whale watching expedition in the breathtaking Monterey Bay.

Carmel Walks: Wander through the charming streets of Carmel with your faithful companion, discovering hidden treasures, dog-friendly boutiques, and quaint cafes that are sure to make every step a delightful experience for both of you.

17 Mile Drive, Pebble Beach: Cruise along the iconic 17 Mile Drive, with your canine co-pilot by your side, and relish in the stunning coastal vistas, world-renowned golf courses, and magnificent landmarks that make Pebble Beach an unparalleled destination for dog-friendly exploration.

Things to do in Carmel worth leaving Fido Home

There are a few activities in Carmel where dog’s are not allowed, but they are so worth it if you can sneak away. I’m sure your pup wants the best for you too, right?

Refuge Spa

We love this place! This unique spa, renowned as the first co-ed relaxation spa in the United States, invites you to experience the benefits of heat and cold therapy. Through a cycle of warming up in a sauna or steam room, cooling down in a cold plunge, and then relaxing in one of their beautiful outdoor relaxation areas, you’ll achieve deep relaxation and reinvigoration.

Big Sur State Parks

The state parks do not allow dogs on the trails, but it would be a shame to miss out on some of most beautiful woods and coastal trails in the state. Check out Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, the Point Lobos Reserve trails or the Andrew Molera Loop.

More Dog Friendly Places near Carmel

Big Sur Beaches

Just south of Carmel, Big Sur unveils its natural wonders. While dogs may not be allowed on all trails in Big Sur’s state parks, there are still opportunities for scenic drives along Highway 1 where you can admire the breathtaking coastline together. Since dogs are limited to being only on the “developed areas” of the state parks, options can be limited. The beaches are a better place to roam. Pfeiffer Beach and Sand Dollar Beach and Garrapata Beach are some good ways to enjoy the Big Sur coast with your four-legged friend.

Monterey, Pacific Grove, and more in the Monterey Bay

A view of Monterey Bay with water, rocks and boats

A little north is the city of Monterey and other towns. The Monterey Bay can be a fantastic destination for dog owners.

Monterey State Beach: Explore this expansive, beautiful beach on leash. It’s a great place for a walk or picnic by the ocean.

Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail: This scenic 18-mile trail stretches from Castroville in the north to Pacific Grove in the south, offering breathtaking views of Monterey Bay. Dogs are allowed, but they must be kept on a leash.

Pacific Grove’s Asilomar Coastal Trail: A beautiful and dog-friendly coastal trail where dogs must be leashed. The trail offers gorgeous views of the ocean and the rocky coast.

Sofa’s Gardens Dog Park: you can find this dog park in downtown Monterey. It is a fully fenced, off-leash dog park where your pup can run and play with others.

Cannery Row: you should be able to find dog friendly patios and shops, enjoy the local catch of the day, or get some delicious clam chowder

There are so many incredible places in Northern California to visit with your furry friends. Carmel makes a great day trip from the SF Bay Area and an even better weekend getaway.

Carmel is one of the most dog-friendly towns in the US. If you would like to visit other dog-friendly cities, find out which ones are in the top 14 in the US.

Final Thoughts: Dog Friendly Carmel

Carmel-by-the-Sea really is a top-notch spot for a getaway, especially if you’ve got a dog in your family. Our pups absolutely love it and yours probably will too.

We’ve had so many great times there – from running around the beaches, exploring the parks, and taking on those dog-friendly trails. The look on our dogs’ faces when they’re off-leash and chasing waves on Carmel Beach or sniffing out new scents on the trails? Priceless.

Carmel isn’t just about the dogs, though. There’s plenty for us humans to enjoy too – cool art galleries, tasty food, you name it. And nothing beats that gorgeous coastal view. But let’s be real, seeing our dogs have the time of their lives makes the whole trip even better.

So, come on down and check out Carmel. Bring your dog, hit the trails, hit the beach, have a blast. We bet you’ll love it as much as we do. Safe travels!

Resource Guide for Travel with a Dog

🧳 What’s the best carrier for my dog when traveling?

You need different carriers for different types of travel

This is my favorite carrier for a small dog – Sleepypod Air

This is my favorite car harness for medium-large dogs – Sleepypod Clickit

This is the best for a large dog on a plane – Skymate Kennel

This is my favorite backpack for a small-medium sized dog – Mr. Penuts Tahoe

You can read more about my review of types of dog carriers for travel here.

🏨 What’s the best site to find cheap pet-friendly hotels?

To find cheap hotels, I recommend Expedia

Vacation Rentals are often the best option for people with pets VRBO

Stay for free or have someone watch your pet with Trusted Housesitters!

🚗 What’s the best site to rent cars?

To find cheap rental cars, I recommend Discover Cars

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