Sniffing for dog-friendly activities in Monterey, California? Keep on sniffing!
Last Updated 7/21/21
Approximately 2 hours away from my hometown San Francisco, the coastal city of Monterey makes for an easy day trip or romantic weekend getaway for Bay Area residents and visitors. Located on California’s rugged central coast, Monterey is one of the state’s oldest and most marveled cities. With a high walk score, refreshing air from the Pacific Ocean, and mild weather almost year-round, Monterey boasts a myriad of fun dog-friendly activities. It’s not uncommon for your dog to stumble upon dog water fountains at parks as well as dog bowls and treats outside of shops and restaurants. Sniff out my list of 10 pawsome things to do with your dog in Monterey:
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#1 Sniff out Downtown Monterey
WOOF! Whether you make your mark in the day or evening, you will hardly come across a dull moment in the historic Downtown Old Monterey. Flooded with cute boutiques, local bars/breweries, and trendy restaurants (many with heated outdoor dog-friendly patios), Downtown is entirely walkable, which makes for the perfect outing with your dog. My wet nose loves investigating Alvarado street, the popular main drive that houses two of my favorite dog-friendly restaurants in the city – Alvarado Street Brewery and Cibo.
#2 Chill at Monterey Plaza Hotel (Cannery Row)
Although touristy, the famous John Steinbeck’s famous Cannery Row is still worth a canine visit! I especially love chilling on the ARF-so-fancy grounds of the Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa, a luxurious 4-star waterfront property sitting on the crashing ocean waves of the Pacific Ocean. Although the hotel itself isn’t dog-friendly, it houses two dog-friendly dining establishments surrounded by breathtaking ocean waves – Schooners Coastal Kitchen & Bar (for lunch or dinner) and Tidal Coffee (for coffee and snacks). Due to its gorgeous ocean views, Monterey Plaza Hotel is a popular venue for romantic weddings so don’t be surprised if you catch a wedding or two here! Just be sure to keep those barks low. 🙂
#3 Stroll along Ocean Avenue in Carmel-by-the-sea
Just a short <10-minute drive from Monterey lies the upscale small city of Carmel, where legendary Clint Eastwood calls home (and was once a mayor). Carmel is rated the #1 dog-friendly town in America! Ocean Avenue is the main drive in Carmel, boasting numerous cute shops, pawstastic restaurants, and art galleries. Notably clean and high-end, Ocean Avenue is worth a relaxing afternoon or evening stroll with your dog. You’ll see the dog-loving atmosphere of Carmel as your dog sniffs out dog bowls and treats outside of shops along with fancy doggie menus at restaurants.
#4 Hit up Scenic Road and Carmel Beach (Carmel)
ARF! Scenic Road is, well, scenic! This winding path will give you and your dog some jaw-droppin’ views of Point Lobos, Pebble Beach Golf Links, and Carmel Point. So yes – take a “scenic” walk with your dog along Scenic Road until you hit Carmel Beach, arguably the most dog-friendly beach in the Monterey area! Dogs can sniff butts and sunbathe off-leash at this uber clean white sandy beach as long as they’re under voice control and follow beach rules. YIPPEE!
#5 Go on a Scenic Hike
With stunning California coastlines come scenic hikes! Hiking around the bay is, PAWS DOWN, one of the top dog-friendly activities in Monterey for all dog lovers. Here are some of my favorite dog-friendly hikes with to-beg-for ocean views:
Eolian Dunes Preserve – This preserve offers 3 easy incline, ½ mile dog-friendly hikes. The low level of difficulty makes these hikes suitable for all dogs, including small ones like me! After this short hike, relax and picnic with your dog in the wide-open space next to the dashing waters. As barked in its name, wind-swept dunes dominate Eolian Dunes Preserve. Dogs must be leashed.
Jacks Peak Park – Jacks Peak is the HIGHEST point in the Monterey area, which means the views can, ARF, only get better. With over 10 trails to choose from, this park has over 8 miles of forest hikes to phenomenal ridge top vistas. As trails range from easy to hard, you can choose accordingly based on your dog’s energy level. Dogs must be leashed.
Mission Trail Park – You and your furry hiking buddy will frolic over this pawsome dog-friendly Carmel park consisting of over 35 acres of land, 5 miles of trail. There are two entrances – Mountain View Avenue and Rio Road across from Carmel Mission. Enter at Mountain View Avenue and pleasant walk through pine and redwood until you reach Carmel Mission Basilica. Poop bags are available at the entrances. Dogs can be OFF-LEASH as long as they’re under voice control and follow park rules.
#6 Kayak around the Bay
GRR, I’ll be honest – getting in or near any water is enough to lower my stylish rat tail. However, I know plenty of dogs who love a good swim. My little BIG Weimaraner cousin Sonny will be the first to bark his love for kayaking, particularly around Monterey Bay. Dogs under 40 lbs. are free as long as they fit in the rental kayak (either single or double), but will not be provided with dog life jackets. Dogs must also behave around marine wildlife mammals (not chase after or harass them), or you could be fined! If your dog loves the water, is NOT prone to motion sickness, and has a life vest or jacket, then kayaking with your dog in Monterey will make one enthralling, unforgettable activity.
#7 Dine and Shop at The Barnyard (Carmel)
With mosaic pathways, meticulously landscaped courtyards, and omnipresent flowers, The Barnyard sets off both a quaint and lively atmosphere that’s aesthetically pleasing to all. This pedestrian and ultra dog-friendly “village” is home to local events and more than 50 shops and restaurants, from art galleries to ethnic cuisine. My robust wet nose finds immense pleasure wandering in this non-cookie cutter mall as I wag my tail to tasty dog treats outside the stores. My humans especially love dining at Aabha, a paw-lickin’ Indian lunch buffet with yummy vegetarian/vegan curries. Dogs are allowed on their rustic yet modern heated outdoor patio, where I sat comfortably near the mesmerizing fire pit and stared down at my humans for some bites.
#8 Go on the 17-Mile Drive
Breathtaking coastal cliffs, white sandy beaches, and world-famous golf courses make the 17-Mile Drive one of the most scenic drives in the world. Luckily, dogs ARE allowed at all the spectacular sites on this legendary drive. For $10.50 per vehicle, the 17-Mile Drive will take you and your dog to extraordinary coastal scenery from Pacific Grove to Pebble Beach, including Spanish Bay (my favorite), Cypress Point Lookout, The Lone Cypress, and Carmel Bay. Dogs are allowed in the picnic areas, pullouts, and some trails. Take your dog out of the car at desired scenic stops for potty breaks, quick hikes, and dramatic photos that will make your IG following jealous! Since my humans desired for an extra dreamy setting, we started the drive about 20 minutes before sunset. Just a quick bark – with over 20 points of interest, you may want to choose the stops wisely for your dog’s sake.
#9 Explore Lower Presidio Historic Park
As I mark up Monterey Coastal Trail (from Fisherman’s Wharf to Cannery Row), I open my mouth, pull back my lips, and stick my tongue out to SMILE at the dog water fountain near the harbor. It’s not much of a surprise since dogs and their humans frequently walk, run, play ball, and picnic around the park. Conveniently tucked between Fisherman’s Wharf and Cannery Row, Lower Presidio Historic Park provides beautiful views of Monterey Bay, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Monterey Harbor. If you explore this park deeper, you’ll find historical statues and monuments at Lower Presidio Historic Park (it is a “historical” park, after all).
#10 Seal-watch at Fisherman’s Wharf
The Old Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey may be touristy, but it’s a fun stop to check off with your dog. You and your dog will enjoy meandering down the pier, which is filled with candy stores and seafood restaurants. Your dog may even be fascinated by the strong scents and strange sounds from all the marine wildlife here, from sea otters to pelicans. Trust me – I can’t stop myself from barking and growling at those harbor seals! They scare AND intrigue me at the same time. And, do yourself a favor by skipping the restaurants here, which are known as typical tourist traps.
Hope you enjoy these dog-friendly activities in Monterey! Be sure to share your California central coast trip with me. How did you like Monterey? Did you find other fun dog-friendly activities in Monterey? BARK AT ME!
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Markin’ it up,
Roger Wellington a.k.a. The Doob