We chose the quaint European style Carmel by the sea as our July 4th getaway to 1) relax and unwind, 2) escape from the firecrackers which scare the living daylights out of dogs, especially our Babu (firecrackers are forbidden in the city of Carmel) and 3) to enjoy some peace and quiet in general. Although we had been there before, this time we decided to plan the trip a little bit more and involve more dogs centric activities to wear the four-legged one out and ensure that he has fun. Carmel is super friendly to dogs and your pooch is welcome almost anywhere, store or restaurant (most have outdoor seating). A 2-3 hr drive from San Francisco, it was a great time to spend the long weekend in the city and do a whole lot of nothing. We arrived late evening on Friday (thanks to crazy outgoing traffic) with a short stop at Palo Alto to grab some lunch. Our hotel, the Briarwood inn, is another place that welcomes dogs (although thy have some restrictions based on size) and they had thoughtfully laid out a doggie treat on our bed! The room was beautiful and spacious and we loved our stay there.
Carmel is a teeny, weeny town and downtown is in general just sprawled out across a few avenues and streets. We strolled around and peeked into a few stores that were open and Babu got a long walk as we wandered around aimlessly. Every corner that we turned too was beautiful and charming with flowers or secret paths/tiny green Shangri-la like gardens tucked in! Not to mention the extremely cute and quaint store signs, unexpected red doors (my favorite) , cute boutiques and art galleries strewn everywhere! Plus, so many dogs everywhere you go!
We had dinner at Tommy’s wok, one of the few asian restaurants in the city. The pot stickers were good but the other entrees were nothing to rave about; plus portions were huge enough to feed a family of four! If you are traveling with your fur kid, there are lots of other options to choose from, almost all of them serving mediterranean/Italian/European fare (see the entire dog friendly restaurant list here). After dinner, we strolled around a bit more and called it a night.
Everybody say BEACH, cause day 2 was all about hitting the beach first thing in the morning after having breakfast! Also, Happy birthday America! Our hotel provided continental breakfast, but several restaurants serve all three meals and were open July 4th (Carmel, you have my vote!). Our hotel breakfast was nothing crazy awesome but we were too gung-ho about the beach to mind the sugary spread. Carmel is a typical central California beach town-foggy mornings and evenings with hot as hell afternoons. So pack accordingly! We got our beach gear (sunscreen, blanket, hat, Babu’s stuff) in a bag and walked to Carmel beach, friendly to dogs and a sandy haven where dogs can run free! The beach was a short stroll from our hotel and we had a great time just lounging there! Needless to say babu had the most fun running around, sniffing butts and being a furry seal by digging numerous sand holes as his comfy bed! He peed on sand castles (much to the dismay of a bunch of kids) and had a great time!
After the beach, we headed back to our hotel, cleaned up our sand covered limbs and fur (haha), got Babu his bellyful of food and water and went to this charming restaurant called Casanova for lunch! Loved the mediterranean/french fare and the tiny courtyard where we could relax and enjoy our meal with lots of dogs near tables all around!
Post lunch we decided against taking a nap (huge temptation) and put those stubs to work by heading towards Mission trail park and Nature preserve, with trails welcoming dogs. It was a long meandering trail through miles of green wherever the eyes could wander, but we headed back after a mile or so of stopping and sniffing the roes (briar blooms rather), being goofy and ambling along with no purpose.
We ended the evening by stumbling upon a secret Garden (Carmel’s best kept secret) next to its only bookstore and with some mouth watering tapas at Mundaka, which again had outdoor seating. We stopped by the Cyprus Inn (the famous dog friendly hotel by Doris Day-once you see their private courtyard with all kinds of doggies resting near the dining tables you will know why), listened to some music in a lounge (doggies allowed and its free) and then called it a night after visiting a few more art galleries (some are open pretty late till 9 PM). Don’t forget to check out an English confectionery (Cottage of sweets) , which had lines and lines of goodies, all British Style!
We spent the last and final day of our stay at Carmel doing the famous 17-mile scenic drive between Carmel and Monterey which can be readily enjoyed with dogs. Read the details on this must do scenic drive in this post and this second post on another very dog friendly beach, south of Carmel toward Big Sur.