Dog-Friendly Carmel – Complete Travel Guide

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dog is feeling happy in carmel by the sea

Also known as Carmel by the Sea, this beachfront city is a popular tourist destination all year long. However, it is the summertime when things really heat up. Being a central California town, the weather does not really get hot or too cold, with average highs in the upper 60s and lows in the mid-40s. August is the hottest month, with a high of 73 degrees F, so this is when Carmel is typically packed with people from all over the world. 

Carmel is one of the most pup popular cities on the West Coast, with about 31% of homes having at least one pooch. That means with just 2,095 households, there are about 650 dogs. Just north of Carmel, San Francisco is the number one best city for dogs by far, with a whopping 35% dogs to people percentage. So, either way, you are bound to find some fun things to do in Carmel with your fur baby. 

In fact, the city has almost 150 rental dog-friendly properties, 35 pup popular eateries, several dog parks, and three dog beaches. In this list, we go over what you need to know before you go, including the best hotels, parks, restaurants, and activities. You will also find some great doggie daycares, boarding places, vets, and animal hospitals to use while you are in town. We also listed the best times to visit and the most pup popular neighborhoods. 

Things dog parents need to know about Carmel

Although you will find lots to do with your dog, Carmel has some strict guidelines and rules to follow while you and your pooch are there. These include leash laws, picking up dog waste, and proper dog etiquette. 

  • First, all dogs must have a current valid license as well as all their vaccinations, including a rabies shot. The rabies tag and license have to be on their collar at all times. Because puppies under four months do not have all of their shots, they are not allowed in Carmel. 
  • Your pooch must be on a leash no longer than six feet at all times unless you are in an off-leash dog park or other area where dogs are allowed off the leash. 
  • While dogs are allowed off the leash at Carmel Beach, they have to be under voice control. 
  • You must have doggie bags on you and pick up any solid waste immediately. 
  • Dogs are not allowed at Devendorf Park unless they are service animals. 
  • Laws also state that canines are not allowed in grocery stores, markets, or indoor restaurants due to contamination issues. But your pup can join you on outdoor patios and in certain pet-friendly stores like PetSmart.
  • Pets are not allowed on any public transportation, but service animals are welcome. 

Dog friendly Hotels in Carmel

Carmel has a variety of great places to stay with your pooch from hotels and motels to BnBs and cabins. We listed our top three favorites here with some of the amenities so you can see what we mean when we say Carmel welcomes dogs. 

  • Sanctuary Beach Resort has its own private beach where you and your fur puppy can play in the water, take a walk, or dig in the sand. All rooms have private decks or patios, and canine companions are welcome at the Salt Wood Kitchen for the Pawtio Menu. 
  • Portola Hotel & Spa is another pup popular place where your pooch can join you for a meal. Peter B’s Brewpub has a Pawtee Menu just for dogs featuring chicken, meatloaf, and turkey casserole. During Yappy Hour, these meals are on sale for only six bucks! And the beach is right there!
  • For those on a budget, the Motel 6 Monterey has dog-friendly rooms starting at just 70 bucks! And since there is no fee for your pupster, you will have plenty of extra money left to take your pooch out on the town. The beach is just minutes away at Monterey Bay Park, where dogs are welcome on a leash. 

Whether you want to pitch a tent or you have a motorhome with all the amenities, camping with your cuddle buddy is a great way to get close to nature. Saddle Mountain Ranch welcomes all pups as long as they are leashed. They have a pool, playground, showers, and a pet area by the cabins. Carmel by the River boasts large campsites on the river and an off-leash bark park as well as a game room, showers, and a general store.

Carmel Dog parks

Although there are no official off-leash dog parks in Carmel, there are several within five miles of the city. There are also a few great pup-friendly beaches to enjoy with your fur baby. Here are a few of our top picks. 

  • El Estero Lake Dog Park is in El Estero Park, about 10 minutes north of Carmel, across from the Park Center. They have separate spaces for big and small dogs, water fountains, and plenty of shaded seating for pet parents. 
  • Sylvan Dog Park is about 6 miles northwest of Carmel by the Sylvan Tennis Court. It is not a huge park, but it has some shade, climbing obstacles, and free doggie bags. There is no separate area for small pups. 
  • A little further northeast, you will find Pacchetti Dog Park, where they have tunnels to run through and trees to climb on. They also have picnic tables, chairs, and benches for humans, water, and doggie bags, as well as separate spaces for large and small dogs. 

Dog Friendly Restaurants and Dining

Santa Barbara has an abundance of different types of eating establishments, from casual taco stands on the beach to fine dining restaurants with tasting menus. However, all of them are not able to allow dogs because California law states dogs are not allowed inside eateries. But here are some that you can check out. 

SUR at the Barnyard is a special place with an extensive menu. They even have a menu for your pooch with steak, salmon, and chicken. For the freshest oysters in the city, as well as some awesome adult beverages, Flaherty’s Oyster Bar and Grill has all that and more. Your canine companion is welcome to join you on the patio, and they will even bring him some treats and a bowl of water. 

Dawn’s Dream Winery is a family business owned by Dawn Galante, who loves wine and dogs as well as being a supporter of many non-profit agencies. She also donates time and products to local organizations. You and your pup can visit her place, where she serves wines and cheeses to enjoy. Carmel Coffee House has small batches of java for the freshest flavor, and you and Fido can also enjoy some lunch or breakfast on the patio. 

Things to do in Carmel with a dog

There is more to do in Carmel besides eat and play at the dog park for you and your pup. Take your cuddle buddy on a whale watching tour at Monterey Bay Whale Watch to see whales, dolphins, otters, and sea lions. Or let one of the awesome drivers take you and your little buddy on 17-Mile Drive through the most scenic areas of Carmel, where vehicles are not allowed. 

If the weather is warm enough, your pooch can play unleashed at Carmel City Beach. It can be crowded during the summer, but with so much room, you can find a spot to hang out in the sand and surf. Your pup is allowed on the leash at Carmel River State Beach, where there is a whole mile of gorgeous sandy coast.

The city also has its share of dog-friendly trails, including the 19-mile Monterey Bay Coastal Recreational Trail along the Pacific coastline. Or take your fur baby on the South Bank Trail. It meanders about 1.5 miles along the banks of the Carmel River. If you have a Poodle (or even if you don’t), take your pup to the Poodle Day Pizza Party on October 6th at Allegro Pizzeria and then join all the other pup parents at Poodle Day on October 7th at the Crossroads. 

Daycare and Boarding

Why not take your best furry friend for a spa day while you go out and enjoy those places where pups are not allowed? After all, it is a vacation, right? Carmel has quite a few doggie daycares and boarding services to choose from. Signature Paw Spa offers cage-free boarding where your pooch can relax and feel at home. They also do grooming, walks, and overnight care. All-Starr Pet Services has been providing grooming and pet sitting for over 10 years, and the dogs love it here. If you need a sitter to come to your hotel, Happy Dog Carmel is the one to call.   

Dog Care and safety

When your fur baby needs medical attention, you do not hesitate because he is family! But what do you do when you are out of town, away from his usual vet? We checked out Carmel’s choices, and they have quite a few. Peninsula Animal Hospital always welcomes new clients and handles emergencies as well as routine visits and even prescription refills. For holistic treatment, Carmel Holistic Vet Clinic only deals in all-natural treatments and medications. 

The one main thing to be aware of in Carmel is the current and high waves. Even if you are just taking your pup for a walk along the shore, if he wanders into the water, a rogue wave can pull him out to sea. Also, if you are planning a day at Carmel River, be aware that leptospirosis has been found in the water recently. This is a potentially serious disease that can affect dogs and people. 

Another thing to watch for in the Pacific Ocean is the marine animals. Some of them come in pretty close to the shoreline, such as sharks, stingrays, jellyfish, moray eels, and the California scorpionfish. On the land, keep your eyes open for skunks, wild boars, mountain lions, coyotes, and even bears. If you need to get a refill for your pup without going to the vet, try Petco in Monterey or PetSmart in Salinas.

Best time to visit Carmel with your dog.

According to the tourism score in Carmel, the best time to visit is from July until October. Those are the warmest months when the temperatures are hot enough to swim during the day and play after dark. Although the high temps all year tend to be in the low to upper 60s, it can drop down to the 40s for the low. 

  • Shoulder Season: (March – June and October – November): The locals call it “secret season” because most of the tourists choose to visit in the summer. But during these times of year, you will find warm temperatures during the day and cool temps at night. 
  • High Season (July – September): From July to early September, you will see a lot of the crowds flocking to the beaches and other attractions. The days are hot, and the nights are mild, so you can spend all day at the beach and night at the dog park. 
  • Low Season (December – February): These are the wettest months in Carmel with the lowest temps. It is great for those who do not like crowds and enjoy cooler weather. It does not get too cold, and you will not see any snow, so you can still enjoy the outside. 

Monthly highlights

  • January: The average high temp in Carmel in January is 60 degrees F. The perfect temperature for taking your fur baby on a shopping trip to take advantage of the after-holiday sales. 
  • February: It can be cold at night in February, dropping to about 48 degrees F. Also, this is one of the cloudiest months of the year, so you will need a jacket for you and your pup. 
  • March: This is the wettest and cloudiest month in Carmel, so plan indoor activities for you and your pooch. 
  • April: The sun returns, and the flowers are blooming. Get out and enjoy the warm days at the park, or enjoy a picnic at the beach.
  • May: With 24 days of sun on average, May is a great time for daytime adventures from biking to hiking. 
  • June: This is one of the sunniest months of the year, with 26 days on average and very little rain. Take your dog to the park or hang out at the beach for a day of fetch and digging in the sand. 
  • July: Hotter days mean you can leave the jacket at home, but if you are going to the beach, you may both need a hoodie or sweatshirt. 
  • August: Another hot month, but not too hot to take your canine companion for a run in the park or a hike in the woods. 
  • September: The high in September is about 70 degrees, and there are 27 days of sun on average. Pack up some water, a few sandwiches, and some beach toys, and enjoy a swim with your pup.
  • October: The trees are turning into works of art with vivid colors, and the days are still warm enough for outdoor fun. Be sure to bring your camera. 
  • November: The tourists have gone home as the weather starts to get chilly, but it is not too cold to do some holiday shopping. 
  • December: Carmel is beautiful in December with its colorful holiday lights and weather in the low 60s. Enjoy!

Carmel Neighborhoods

Carmel is not a very big city, so it only has a handful of neighborhoods. Most of the area is dog-friendly, and this includes several parks, beaches, and other recreational spaces. But each area is different and has something to offer that the others do not. 

  • Mission Fields: Located in southeastern Carmel, Mission Fields is on Highway 1 across from the Barnyard Shopping Center. The neighborhood is mostly young families, and its southern border runs along the river, giving you a great place to walk your pup. 
  • Hatton Fields: Just north of Mission Fields, Hatton Fields is home to the 33-acre Mission Trail Park, with five miles of trails for you and your fur baby to explore. It is also close to Hatton Canyon and a variety of great trails. 
  • Carmel Point: West of Hatton Fields, Carmel Point is right on the waters of Carmel Bay in between Carmel Beach and Carmel River State Beach. These are both pooch-friendly so get out there and enjoy!
  • Golden Rectangle: Just north of Carmel Point, the Golden Rectangle is the historic area of Carmel with dozens of old buildings from the 1800s. It runs along Carmel Beach and features some of the best dog-friendly hotels and resorts in the area.  
  • Downtown Carmel: Northeast of the Golden Rectangle, Downtown Carmel is where you will find the majority of the eateries, bars, and shops. Check out Forge in the Forest Terry’s Lounge, Treehouse Cafe, and Village Corner Bistro. 

While you are out and about in Carmel, keep your cuddly canine companion on his leash and bring plenty of doggie bags to clean up after him. You should also pack extra water for both of you. And make sure you ask the owners of any establishment if dogs are welcome before you enter. 

The Final Woof

Visiting a new place is always fun, but when you bring your fur buddy, it helps to know where the best places to go are. First, you need to know what laws and regulations there are, where to stay with your pup, where the best off-leash dog parks are, and where you can take your pooch for dinner. There is plenty to do, from swimming at the beach to taking a ride on the 17-Mile Drive. We also listed daycares and boarding places, local vets and hospitals, the best times to visit, and the best neighborhoods to explore while you are in town. 

Photo of author
Patty Oelze is a freelance writer who is also in the process of getting her PhD in Psychology. She has been writing about dogs and other critters for about 10 years and has a plethora of animals at her home including several cats, some chipmunks, a dozen raccoons, two foxes, one coyote, and herds of deer. She and her husband have been living in the Missouri Ozarks for years where she enjoys taking care of wildlife, fishing, photography, boating, and of course, writing.

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