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Vacation with your dog in Carmel, CA!

Updated: Apr 7, 2023

Carmel-by-the-Sea, known for its natural beauty and rich artistic history is home to some of the most breathtaking views you'll ever find along California's Pacific coast. Surrounded by white sandy beaches and beautiful cypress trees, the town is a true California coastal jewel. Located about 330 miles north of Los Angeles and 120 miles south of San Francisco, this storybook coastal town was founded in 1902. Sixty percent of the town's homes were originally built by musicians, painters, writers and other artists who devoted their lives to work connected to the aesthetic arts.

Today, Carmel is still known for its many art galleries and artistic homes. With its 100 or so art galleries located within a one square mile radius, Carmel holds works from world renowned artists as well as one of a kind finds.

The town is extremely dog-friendly with many hotels and shops allowing guests with their four legged friends in tow. It’s the perfect place to visit as your dog is allowed on Carmel's beaches off leash.

~Your beach day begins as you navigate along California’s scenic Highway 1 toward Carmel-by-the-Sea on the stunning Monterey Peninsula. As you turn toward the bay onto Carmel's Ocean Avenue, you’ll find yourself beautifully surrounded by cypress trees and bohemian style beach homes. Described by the city as "a village in a forest overlooking a white sand beach", Carmel’s artistic and natural beauty will leave you inspired.

Drive just a few blocks down the village's main thoroughfare and you’ll notice the town's library and garden. It’s the perfect place to enjoy your morning "cup of joe" before heading down to the ocean for the day. Conveniently placed, Carmel Valley Coffee Roasting Company is located just kiddie corner from the garden. Word on the street is, “It’s the best coffee in the world. ” So, with the perfect cappuccino, pastry (and dog) in tow, simply sit back and enjoy the village's exquisite garden and artistic vibe.

When amply nourished, continue down Ocean Avenue. As you pass by the charming bed and breakfasts, art galleries and restaurants, take note of the village's artistic storybook architecture. The product of several building styles: Mission Revival, Tutor Revival and Spanish Romantic Revival, the town’s architecture, and surrounding area, will give you the sense of why founding artists found this spot so unique.

As you continue your walk downhill, you’ll arrive at a white pristine beach edged up against beautifully placed Cypress trees. These Monterey Cypress are native to the area and were once part of a much larger forest inhabiting the west coast. The surviving trees are now protected within Point Lobos Lobos State Reserve and Del Monte Forest where the trees’ natural habitat consists of cool humid summers embedded almost consistently in sea fog.

As you make your way onto the beach, your pup will now be allowed off leash; free to enjoy his or her day romping amid the surf, encountering many new furry “friends” along the way. You’ll discover Carmel Beach to be the ultimate dog haven; an experience that your dog may be dreaming about for years.

Make sure to bring along a ball or a frisbee to add to your day’s fun. For me, there’s nothing like enjoying time with my pup on Carmel’s beautiful white, sandy beach, .playing fetch as we romp together along the sand and surf.

After your fun packed day, venture south to the end of the beach and there’ll be a "doggie" water fountain located on the first landing of the concrete stairs. Continue on upwards and you’ll come to a scenic bluff that overlooks the pristine sandy beach. Heading north, back into the village, you’ll gain a bird’s eye view of the spot where you played for the day. The views of the coastline are both awe striking and spectacular.

Arriving back into town, you’ll discover many wonderful dining options. From Greek to French to American Faire, you’re guaranteed to find whatever suits your preference. If you love Italian, you’ll find a charming little restaurant (dog friendly patio included) at the corner of Delores and 7th Street. Little Napoli, Bistro Italiano has traditional old world fare coupled with Carmel style charm. The restaurant is managed by Rich “Chef Pepe“, a popular entrepreneur on the Peninsula who, in addition to Little Napoli’s, owns several other restaurants in the area. His “passion and dream is to pass along and share [his] family’s lifestyle and traditions through his restaurant, wine, travel and hospitality ventures”.

The restaurant is known for their delicious pizzas (gluten free options available as well). Their Margherita pizza and Caesar Salad is certainly worth trying. Pair both with a medium-bodied Pinot Noir and you are set for a nice relaxing evening to end your most perfect day.

Carmel-by-the-Sea is worth the drive every time. For such a small beach town, it has much to offer. You’ll be refreshed and inspired by the area’s beauty which will draw you back time and time again.

Carmel-by-the-Sea is my absolute favorite ‘saltwater town’ in California. Ironically, I first came across this charming beach town while watching the old 70’s Clint Eastwood thriller, ”Play Misty for Me”. As I watched the film, the area’s natural beauty absolutely enthralled me. It was one of the reasons I was drawn to live in Northern California. The coastal views are absolutely stunning.

I visit Carmel as many as eight or nine times a year. Each time I drive into Carmel, I am reminded of how absolutely beautiful the town and surrounding areas are. The Monterey Peninsula has become a place for me to recharge and to gain inspiration. To me there is no other place in California quite as unique or beautiful.


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