Carmel-by-the-Sea is one of the most dog friendly cities in the U.S. The town sits about 2 hours south of SF, on your way down to Big Sur along the Pacific Coast Highway. I've been coming here since I was 5 years old, running down the cobblestone sidewalks and playing at the beach. It's one of the my favorite weekend activities. Here are some of my favorite things to do (with or without a pup!)
1. 17 Mile Drive
Technically in Pebble Beach, 17 Mile Drive winds around the coast in Pebble Beach. There are a lot of places to stop and take a short hike or enjoy a picnic. The current fee to get in is $10.25. I'd highly recommend stopping by Spanish Bay, Seal Rock, and Cypress Point lookout. There are numerous places to take small walks along the cost, so it's not a bad idea to just park your car somewhere and enjoy the afternoon!
Don't forget to pack a lunch or snacks! Here are some of the things I brought:
2. Carmel Beach
Beautiful during the day and even better at sunset. This white sand beach allows dogs off-leash! The dog owners here are also great about keeping their dogs in control and picking up after them. It's not one of those crazy, dirty dog beaches you hear about.
3. Forge in the Forest
After your time at the beach, enjoy walking in the quaint downtown area and stop by Forge in the Forest for dinner. They have a beautiful outdoor space with a fire pit. They also have a doggie menu so your pup can eat as well! There were around 5 dogs on the patio when we went.
4. Stay at Fernwood Campgrounds
After a long day in Carmel, spend the night at Fernwood Campgrounds, a dog-friendly resort with a restaurant, cabins, and campgrounds. We found the campgrounds to be very clean, and the other guests were respectful and kept to quiet hours. The restaurant is an added bonus if you don't feel like bringing your camp stoves along with you.
Some of my favorite camping gear:
- BigAgnes mtnGLO 3 person tent: there is light installed into the tent which is one of the most convenient features of all the tents I have tried!
- Therma-Rest-Z Lite: The best sleep you'll get! Some of the inflatable hiking pads are easier for longer backpacking trips, but for an easier camping night, this is my go-to.
- Sea to Summit Pillow: The difference between sleeping on a bundle of your clothes (what I used to do) and sleeping on a comfy pillow is mindblowing once you make that jump. I was cheap for many many years and refused to spend money on a pillow. But it really makes a huge difference for a good night's rest.
5. McWay Falls
Before heading home, make the quick 20 minute trip down to McWay Falls for sunrise. Bring some breakfast and enjoy sunrise on a perfectly placed bench in front of the view point. As an added bonus, there was nobody else there when we went. It's usually packed with tourists in the middle of the afternoon, so sunrise is your best bet.
Note: McWay Falls is not dog friendly!