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  • Writer's pictureHannah Cossa

Vacationing with Dogs in Monterey County, CA

Top five things to do when vacationing with dogs in Monterey County, CA

If you are anything like me, your dog is your life. #dogsarekidstoo am I right? But vacationing with dogs can be extremely daunting. Where to stay? Where will you eat? What will you do all day? When I first decided to take my Husky, Maverick, with me on a trip to the Central Coast of Monterey County, Ca, I could not find much research on the area's dog friendly vacation destinations. But what I did know was that I wanted to get away, and I wanted Maverick with me. So, I set off to make the most of it with Maverick in tow. I was happy to quickly learn that Monterey County was home to some of the most dog friendly vacation destinations I’d ever been. Since that first trip, we have been back multiple times when we needed to get away from the cruel 100 degree + temperatures in the Central Valley. Each time, we have been delighted to discover new dog friendly trails, beaches, and restaurants.

Monterey County, located on the Pacific Coast of California, encompasses over 10 cities as well as numerous communities and unincorporated areas. Scenic drives along the coastline- including Big Sur, HWY 1-, and a 17-Mile drive to Pebble Beach, have made the county famous across the world.

The coastline, enveloped with million-dollar homes boasting spectacular ocean views, leaves no doubt that Monterey County is ranked in the top 10 of America's most expensive places to live.

It has been the home of movie stars such as Doris Day, Betty White, and Clint Eastwood (who was Mayor of Carmel by the Sea for 2 years).

Perhaps it was the draw of these famous movie icons that have made Monterey County the dog friendly vacation destination it is today. Actress and animal activist Doris Day, lived in Carmel Valley until her death in 2019. She co-owned the dog friendly boutique hotel, the Cypress Inn for more than 20 years. Americans Golden Girl: Betty White, owned her home in Carmel Meadows for 40 years. She was not only a member of the Monterey Bay Aquarium but was heavily involved with supporting the Monterey Bay SPCA.

Whether you go for the day or stay for the week, Monterey County has a plethora of activities for dog lovers. To help you experience some of the best activities Monterey County has to offer, here is my list of the top five things to do on vacation with dogs to Monterey County, California.

#1 Take a hike at Jack’s Peak Park in Monterey

Overlooking the Monterey Peninsula, Jacks Peak Park provides the perfect place for a morning hike with your pup. Located two miles off HWY 68, this 525-acre natural preserve has over 10 trails with varying difficulty, 2 picnic areas, a group area, and multiple panoramic viewpoints. Dogs are welcome to enjoy the trails and parks on leashes. Hydration is always important, even for dogs. Pack a PupFlask along with your water bottle to ensure everyone has water for the hike.

Please note there is a $2.00 per vehicle entry fee and a $2.00 pet fee (maximum of 2 dogs per vehicle). The park is open year-round from 8 am each day, with the closing time varying depending on the season. You can find the park entrance at 25020 Jacks Peak Park Rd, Monterey, CA 93940.

Jack's Peak Park, Monterey CA

#2 - Explore the shops in Carmel-by-the-Sea

If shopping is your desire, downtown Carmel-by-the Sea has everything you could wish for, and 95% of the shops, cafes, restaurants and art galleries are dog-friendly. Many shops offer bowls of water at their door for your pooch to rehydrate after the fun on the beach. Be sure to stop by Diggity Dog, a cat & dog boutique offering yummy treats, fashionable leashes, and collars, as well as pet photo events. If you’re more of a thrift-shore shopper, head to The Barnyard Shopping Village off HWY 1 and Rio Road. You’ll find the dog friendly SPCA charity shop is always bursting with great clothes and wares at unbeatable prices!

#3 - Visit Carmel Beach & stroll the Scenic Trail

Carmel Beach, located at the end of Ocean Ave in Carmel-by-the-Sea, is probably the most beautiful and scenic of all the beaches on the Central Coast of California. Attracting visitors and locals alike, this beach offers views of Pebble Beach on one end and Point Lobos State Park on the other. Dogs are welcomed off-leash, under the voice control of their owners. Overlooking the beach, along Scenic Drive, you will find a lovely scenic trail with multiple access points to the beach itself. This scenic trail will have you in awe of the views of the ocean, as well as the fabulous homes that line the front. Bathrooms, benches, and trash cans are available along its route. They even provide doggie waste bags to ensure you pick up after your pet. Although the actual trail ends at Martin Way, Scenic Rd will take you all the way to Carmel River Beach.

Be sure to take your pup by the "Carmel Dog Bar" for a water break.

The "bar" is located at Carmel Point between Carmel River Beach and Carmel State Beach along Scenic Drive. While dogs are allowed to be off leash at Carmel Beach, they must be kept on a leash when you are walking along the scenic trail or at Carmel River Beach

dog drinking water
Carmel Dog Bar at Carmel Point

#4 - Go Whale Watching on Monterey Bay

There is nothing more breathtaking than the site of a humpback whale breaching the water with the Monterey coastline as a backdrop. Thanks to Princess Monterey Whale Watching and Monterey Bay Whale Watch, you do not have to miss out or leave your dog behind. Both tour companies allow well-behaved dogs on board when their boats aren’t too full. Both companies offer indoor and outdoor seating on their boats and run tours year-round. Each tour takes you on a unique and educational adventure, leaving from Fisherman’s Wharf out to the deep waters of Monterey Bay. Appreciate the beauty of wildlife as you discover Humpback Whales, Killer Whales, Blue Whales, Risso Dolphins, Long Beaked Common Dolphin, Bottlenose Dolphin, Sea Turtles, Sea Lions, Pelicans, Sea Otters, and more!

For more information visit the tour websites:

#5 - Enjoy a meal at The Grill at Point Pinos, Pacific Grove

After all the walking, shopping, playing, and hiking, you will likely be ready for a peaceful lunch. Although there are several pet-friendly restaurants and cafes in the area with patio seating, none provide the quality meals and relaxing patio space found at The Grill at Point Pinos. Positioned between the 9th and 10th hole of the Pacific Grove Golf Links, the Grill boasts an award-winning menu, breakfast served all day and excellent views. They also have a special menu just for mans best friend. I have taken Maverick to a few restaurants in the more popular areas of town, all extremely busy, which makes Maverick too excited to enjoy a meal. At The Grill, the patio area is small but spread out allowing a more relaxing and quiet dining experience. My personal recommendation: Caesar Salad with Tri-Tip. Check out their full menu at

Whatever you choose to do during your visit, help keep Monterey County clean; remember to always pick up after your pet.

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