Dog-Friendly Monterey – Complete Travel Guide

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dog is feeling happy in Monterey

Home to several California firsts like the first printing press, public library, brick house, and theater. It is also well-known for its 99 miles of gorgeous beaches along the Pacific Ocean. It is located on the southern end of Monterey Bay on the central coast of California, with some great attractions like Fisherman’s Wharf, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and Cannery Row. 

It is not a large city, with just over 30,000 residents and approximately 13,000 households. Monterey is also a fur baby-loving city with about 4,350 dogs residing there. This is good for pet parents because it means there is more for you and your canine companion to do while you are there, like dog parks, beaches, and pup-friendly restaurants and shopping centers. 

There are also plenty of dog-friendly hotels to choose from. Whether you are looking for a room with a view, a place with a pool, or a resort with a spa, Monterey has all that and more for people with pets. Here, we list our top picks for hotels, eateries, shops, parks, and beaches, as well as important laws to know, tips on safety, dog sitters, vets, and hospitals. We even listed the most pup popular neighborhoods and the best times to visit. 

Things dog parents need to know about Monterey

No matter where you take your cuddle buddy, there are always going to be important laws and regulations to know before you go. Not following the city rules can get you a hefty fine, or it can be dangerous for your pup. Here are the ones we think are the most important.

  • All fur babies over four months old must be licensed and have a tag attached to their collar at all times. 
  • They must also be microchipped and have a rabies tag that is up-to-date.
  • Dogs must be on a leash no longer than six feet and restrained by someone responsible at all times. 
  • Dogs are not allowed in buildings unless otherwise stated and never allowed in any establishment that makes or distributes food. 
  • If your pooch poops on public or private property, you must clean it up immediately and dispose of it properly. 
  • Pets are only allowed on public transport if they fit in a carrier on the pet parent’s lap.

Dog friendly Hotels in Monterey

You will find over 50 pet-friendly hotels, motels, and resorts to choose from in Monterey. Each one has its own benefits and amenities, some with indoor pools, spas, or gyms. Sometimes, a dog-friendly hotel will offer your cuddle buddy a bowl, bed, treats, or even a toy. Here are a few that we really like.

  • Portola Hotel & Spa is right by the beach and has a special menu for your canine companion at their restaurant called Bark Bowls. They also offer an Ultimate Monterey Pet Getaway package that includes a free Bark Bowl, a doggie bandana, a plush bed, and food and water bowls. They even waive the pet fee. 
  • Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel & Spa is another favorite because they not only have a dog park (The Barking Lot) but they also donate the pet fee to Max’s Helping Paws Foundation. Your pup also gets his own bed, toys, treats, and bowls. 
  • Carmel Valley Rance by Hyatt has 500 acres of gorgeous space with pools, a gym, tennis, golf, and lots of trails to explore with your fur baby. They provide your pooch with treats, a bed, and even a dog menu for room service. 

If you want to stay a little closer to nature, check out the Monterey Fairgrounds RV Park with full hookups, showers, laundry, and live events, including the Monterey County Fair in September. A little further south, Carmel by the River RV Park has full hookups, a rec room, showers, and a dog park. Whispering Pines Park also has camping, and you do not even need an RV here. You can pitch a tent, and you do not even need a reservation. 

Monterey Dog parks

Being a small town, there are not as many off-leash dog parks in Monterey. In fact, there is only one. However, there are over a dozen within minutes of the city center, so you and your cuddly canine companion will have no trouble finding one you like. 

  • The El Estero Dog Park is located right next to the lake on the western side of El Estero Community Park. The large mulched area is fully fenced and has lots of seating, shade, water, and even poop bags for cleaning up. There is also a separate section for small and shy dogs. 
  • Rip Van Winkle Open Space is just a few minutes to the west of downtown Monterey in the Pacific Grove neighborhood. The park is open 24 hours and has a fun off-leash trail you and your pooch can explore together. Be sure to grab some doggie bags from the parking lot to pick up after your pup. 
  • Sylvan Dog Park is about 15 minutes southeast of downtown and features a huge space for off-leash playing, great for fetch or playing frisbee. There are a few logs for agility training, as well as doggie bags for pickup. Also, there are plenty of tennis balls available because it is right next to a tennis court. 

Dog Friendly Restaurants and Dining

Everyone has to eat, including your pooch, so why not take him with you to get some grub at one of the local pup popular eateries? The city also has a few dog-friendly bars, breweries, and coffee shops, so you can find what you need, whether it is a cold brew or a cup of joe. For a casual but refined meal on the beach, you and your pup can eat outside at Lalla Grill at the Del Monte Center. 

You can also take Fido to the London Bridge Pub, where they serve the best fish and chips in the county. They also have local beers, a dozen different bottled beers, and draft beer on tap. If you want wine, champagne, or a nonalcoholic drink, they have those too. Want some beer fresh from the tap? Dust Bowl Brewing Company has 24 beers on tap and outdoor seating with a taco truck, corn hole, and fire pits. 

Galante Vineyards Tasting Room is also pooch-friendly and serves some of the finest wines in the area. Located on Ocean Avenue in Carmel just minutes from Monterey, your pup will also enjoy the place because they give out dog treats. Finally, if you need a boost, Tidal Coffee on Cannery Row will supply you with what you need, and they even have pup cups for your pooch. 

Things to do in Monterey with a dog

Other than playing at the dog park and dining out, you and Fido can do so many fun things in Monterey. For example, you and your cuddly buddy can go searching for whales in Monterey Bay with the Monterey Bay Whale Watch Company. You may also see seals, sea lions, porpoises, dolphins, and sea otters. Or rent a kayak and explore the water on your own. 

If you want to go for a swim or hang out at the beach, Monterey State Beach is dog-friendly for those pooches on a leash. Right next door, Del Monte Beach is another pup popular beach, but watch out for those waves! For an off-the-leash adventure, head to Carmel, where he can splash in the waves and dig in the sand unhindered. 

Another great activity that you and your canine companion can enjoy in Monterey is hiking. At Jacks Peak Park, there is an eight-mile trail through the cathedral forest with stunning ridge-top views. Or you can explore part of the 18-mile Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail along the water. If you have a Poodle (or any dog will do), do not miss Poodle Day and Poodle Day Pizza Party on October 6th and 7th at The Crossroads. 

Daycare and Boarding

When you want to do something without your pup, take him to one of the pooch popular dog sitters in the area. The Central Coast Pet Sitter will come to your hotel to keep your pupster company while you get out and have some fun. StayCare Pet Sitting will stay overnight to care for your canine companion if you want. And All-Starr Pet Services does pet sitting, boarding, grooming, and fun at the dog park for dogs under 70 pounds. 

Dog Care and safety

We all worry about the health of our family, especially our furry family members. So, knowing where the best vets and animal hospitals is important. Monterey Animal Hospital has been in business for over 10 years and offers everything you need, from boarding to radiology. Aguajito Veterinary Hospital is another great place that covers urgent care and prevention, with over 40 years in business. 

Keeping your pup safe while you are out and about is of utmost importance, so remember one thing: if you are hot, your dog is probably hotter. Although the temps are not too high in the summer, anything over 70 degrees can be dangerous for a pooch with thick fur or a brachycephalic dog with a flat face. Keep your pup hydrated and cool wherever you go, and NEVER leave him in a car alone. 

Another thing to remember while you are out is that there is dangerous wildlife in much of Monterey. You may see black bears, mountain lions, coyotes, skunks, and even cougars. You should also watch out for snakes and insects because they can be dangerous as well. If your dog needs a medication refill, Petco and PetSmart are local, and there are other places like Collier Feed & Pet Supply that can help out. 

Best time to visit Monterey with your dog.

With a mild climate influenced by the ocean, summers in Monterey are not too hot or cold, with temps ranging from 50 to 70 degrees F. Winter is not much different, with temps from 45 to 65 degrees F. Summers are the most popular times to visit, of course, but for those who do not like crowds, you may want to visit in shoulder season or low season. 

  • Shoulder Season: (March – June and September – November): Shoulder season is the best time to go if you want the least crowds. Although the temps stay in the lower 60s during the day, they drop to the 40s at night. But most of the tourists are mostly gone, so it can be the perfect time for pup parents. 
  • High Season (June – August): If you do not mind the crowds and want the warmest weather for outdoor activities, high season is for you. For the most part, daytime is warm and sunny with highs into the 70s, so you can play in the water if you are brave. Nights are still chilly, though. 
  • Low Season (December – February): For those who do not mind the cold and want to avoid the most crowds, low season is the winter, of course. The highs are in the upper 50s to low 60s, and nights are in the lower 40s. This is also the wettest time of the year, so bring an umbrella.

Monthly highlights

  • January: The coldest and wettest month of the year, January is a good time for indoor fun, like shopping on Cannery Row or trying to escape from Escape Room 831. 
  • February: Not much warmer, with highs around 63 degrees, this is a good month to take Fido for a hike. Go during the afternoon when it is the warmest and bring warm clothes for both of you. 
  • March: Another chilly month but getting warmer, when the temps start hitting the middle and upper 60s, you and your pooch can play at the El Estero Dog Park, but you may not want to let him play in the water. 
  • April: You may be able to walk along the beach in mid to late April during the warmest time of the day when it gets to the upper 60s. However, it is still too cool to swim. 
  • May: Take a walking tour through Cannery Row or enjoy a wine tasting at Taste Morgan. They even have the patio heated if it gets chilly.  
  • June: Although the tourists are coming back this month, it is still cool enough for the beach to be less crowded. During the day, it may even get warm enough for a dip. 
  • July: This is the most crowded month of the year in Monterey, so try to visit the attractions, beaches, and dog parks during the off-hours, like evening or early morning. 
  • August: With highs in the 70s, you and your pup can both enjoy a picnic at El Estero Park, where you will also find the off-leash dog park. 
  • September: This is usually the warmest month but not as crowded as kids go back to school. Take advantage of the warmer water and go for a swim at Monterey or Del Monte Beach. 
  • October: The temps are still warm enough for outdoor fun with your fur baby, so take him to the botanical garden or enjoy a guided ghost tour. 
  • November: This is a great month for holiday shopping and dining out with your dog. There are numerous dog-friendly shops and eateries. 
  • December: If you plan to go see the holiday lights after dark, dress warm and make sure Fido is covered as well. 

Monterey Neighborhoods

Monterey is not a huge city by any means, but it does have quite a few different neighborhoods and communities. Each with its own highlights, you should take the time to see some of these awesome places while you are in town.

  • Del Monte: In northeastern Monterey, Del Monte is the home of the dog-friendly Del Monte Beach Del Monte Lake and the Naval Academy. 
  • Oak Grove: Just east of Del Monte, past the Naval Academy, Oak Grove is where you will find the only official off-leash dog park at El Estero Park. It is also the home of Monterey Bay Park, which is pup-friendly for leashed pups.
  • Casanova Oak Knoll: South of Del Monte, Casanova Oak Knoll is a community of just over 1,000 people and includes the Monterey Pines Golf Club and the Monterey County Fairgrounds, where you can camp at the RV Park. 
  • Downtown Monterey: Full of restaurants, museums, parks, and beachfront property, Downtown Monterey is the hub of it all. You and your fur baby can visit Old Fisherman’s Wharf, where there are dozens of shops and eateries. Take your pup to Domenico’s for a bite to eat on the patio or just enjoy the view. 
  • Pacific Grove: In far northwestern Monterey, Pacific Grove also runs along the bay and is where you will find the off-leash park Rip Van Winkle Open Space. You can reach it from the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail if you want to walk. 

Monterey has a little bit of everything for everyone, whether you like indoor or outdoor activities. You and your fur puppy can enjoy the parks, beaches, and trails, as well as restaurants and shops. Just do not forget to bring doggie bags to pick up after your pup. 

The Final Woof

Overall, the city of Monterey is dog-friendly, with lots to do for both of you. One of the most pup popular that has not been mentioned is Mad Dogs & Englishmen, which is a bike shop for pooch parents. Rent a bike and take Fido on a tour of the city. We have listed several great hotels, dog parks, restaurants, beaches, and other activities, as well as some important rules and etiquette. We also shared our favorite choices for doggie day care, veterinary care, and grooming. Finally, we gave you the best times to visit and what neighborhoods to go to while you are in Monterey so you can really enjoy your stay.  

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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