Dog-friendly Carmel

After our fun (and not so fun) stay in Pinnacles National Park, we headed to our next stop near San Juan Bautista, a little town off Rt. 101 on our way north to San Francisco. We wanted to get the last few (minor) items fixed on Rover before his one-year warranty was up and San Juan Bautista was close enough to Leale’s RV (where we were getting the work done) so we could get the diagnosis and wait a week or two for any parts to be ordered.

Carmel-by-the-Sea, also known as Carmel, is one of the most dog-friendly cities in the U.S. so we had to check it out with Opie. Max was very content to stay in Rover and chew on a stuffed Kong while we were out.

There’s plenty of free parking in Carmel but most of it is limited to 2-hours near the water. We found unlimited free parking at Vista Lobos (3rd ave and Torres St) which is located on the edge of Carmel. Since Carmel is relatively small, it’s easy to walk everywhere.

Our first stop was to Mission Trail Park, a well-kept secret where dogs are allowed to visit and roam the 35 acres of preserved nature with 5 miles of trails through rich vegetation. The park felt very peaceful and we only saw a few people walking with dogs in the area. Opie had a great time sniffing everything he could get to (and marking, but no grass eating). There is no parking available here, you’ll have to park elsewhere and walk into the preserve.

Mission Trail Park

Walking through Mission Trail Park

After walking through Mission Trail Park with a wet Opie (naturally he found a little stream to wallow in), we decided to walk Scenic Rd. along the water. It’s a one way street with great scenic views of the water and the expensive (and eclectic) homes. You can drive Scenic Rd. but if you walk or bike it, there is a lot more you can see without worrying about driving. The beaches here are very dog friendly and we saw tons of dogs on and off leash. Opie, being a Lab, can’t pass by any body of water without taking a dip so we took him down to the beach where he could get wet, meet other dogs, and ingratiate himself with all the people.

By this time, we were all getting hungry so we headed to Terry’s Lounge where Opie shared my BLT and fries while Mike had the burger. It’s dog friendly but the food was only so-so for us. I think Opie liked the food well enough though!

Opie likes checking out dog-friendly restaurants!

Opie likes checking out dog-friendly restaurants!

Carmel looks like a quaint european-type town with lots of small shops and home nestled in small streets. We enjoyed walking around the town window-shopping until we hit Cottage of Sweets where my window-shopping became actual shopping. Once I got my sugar fix, we headed back to the car with a happy, sandy, salty dog and called it a successful day out.

Checking out the quaint shops in Carmel.

Checking out the quaint shops in Carmel.


  1. Sasa   •  

    Great little place to relax, vacation or even better own a place (who can afford it and maybe next to Clint Eastwood ‘s house:):):) ), which is the case with every inch of 17 mile drive/Pebble Beach (Golf Club is real nice place for a nice walk even if you are not golfer) and Monterey areas. If you stop in Monterey and like seafood definitely stop at “The Fish Hopper” and grab a plate of cioppino [soem call it seafood chipino] of the best I had, and I am known foody! Enjoy the travels – Sasa

    • Kat   •     Author

      Sasa, thanks for the tips! Unfortunately we ended up leaving the Carmel/Monterey area a little earlier then expected so we’ll have to save the tip for next time we make it around. No kidding on the houses, we looked up a few online and boy, I cannot believe the prices on those cute little homes!

  2. Pablo   •  

    Pretty sure we’ve been to the same spot in that top picture. Pretty sure we spent a good long while with the kids climbing on those rocks in the water. We went around 4th of July so it was pretty chilly (ironically). It was a very nice way to spend a weekend.

    • Kat   •     Author

      It’s definitely a gorgeous town. I can see the kids having a good time. Hope the kids got to try out the Sweet shop!

  3. DebbieM   •  

    It is a beautiful town and one of the prettiest beaches in the state. It’s been a while since I’ve been there, but my niece graduates middle of May from CSU Monterey, so guess I’ll be there soon! I grew up just over the coastal mountains. Only half hour drive to the beach when I was younger.

    • Kat   •     Author

      Debbie, it is quite pretty in Carmel. I’m guessing May will be an absolutely gorgeous time to visit! I grew up on the east coast pretty far from the ocean so being this close to the coast has been a nice change for us. The weather is quite gorgeous on the coast in the spring.

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