I’ll be the first one to admit that bringing a dog on a honeymoon (or mini-moon) is a little unorthodox. However, we had to leave our pup Nellie at a dog sitter’s house for the week of the wedding and we just couldn’t be away from her for two whole weeks. Yes, we are those people. Luckily, our mini-moon plans ended up being very dog-friendly. After a few days of walking around and eating and drinking our way through San Francisco, we rented a car—a red Jeep Wrangler, to be exact—to head down to Carmel for some more exploring and relaxing. We really had such a wonderful (albeit fairly short) time in Carmel and are already planning a time to go back. Today, I’m sharing all about where we stayed and ate and what we did.
Where We Stayed
In all honesty, my husband and I aren’t very fancy people. However, when L’Auberge Carmel reached out to host us and our pup on our mini-moon, it was a generous offer we couldn’t refuse! Upon arriving at the hotel, which pretty much looks like a chateau you’d find in the South of France, we were greeted by the friendliest staff, who parked our car and carried our (massive) bags into our room. The concierge was incredible, making sure we had everything we needed and wanted for a comfortable stay and providing us with information on the town, restaurants and dog-friendly places to go. They even offered to make reservations for us!
Our room felt so luxe and we immediately felt relaxed. Nellie loved it too, especially the cute dog bowls they provided. Everything about the hotel was so quaint and charming, and we loved having a glass of wine on the pretty patio. I also can’t forget to mention that the turn-down service comes with fresh cookies and milk. How great is that? If you are looking for a nice, luxurious getaway, I highly recommend L’Auberge Carmel. The hotel and staff are simply amazing!
**One thing I need to mention is that many hotels have a size limit for dogs. Nellie is about 16 pounds and is usually under the size restrictions.
Other Dog-Friendly Options
Where We Ate and Drank
Carmel is such a dog-friendly town and we had no trouble finding places to eat and drink. However, besides looking for dog-friendly spots, we needed to look for places that had gluten-free options because my husband has a gluten allergy. Below are the places where we ate and were able to get gluten-free options.
- Flaherty’s Seafood Grill & Oyster Bar: This was the first place we ate at in town after driving down from San Francisco. For lunch, the restaurant had gluten-free bread, so Chris was able to get a lobster roll and fries. I’m not a fan of seafood (except for New England Clam Chowder), but there were some soup and salad options, which were really great! The restaurant’s outdoor space isn’t huge, but we were able to easily find a table.
- Hog’s Breath Inn: We came here for dinner and were seated outside by a fireplace. The staff was super-friendly and were able to make Chris a steak without any fancy marinade that would have traces of gluten. I had a salad and ravioli, which were delicious.
- Katy’s Place: We were sold on this place because it had an outdoor patio and gluten-free pancakes. Definitely more of a diner feel, but the service and food were great.
- Basil Carmel: This was such a cute little lunch spot. The server was extremely knowledgeable about gluten allergies and what Chris could have. Chris, of course, found something he loved. Nellie enjoyed the quiet courtyard patio and a giant bowl of water.
- Terry’s Lounge: When we return to Carmel, we will definitely come back to this place for a meal. We stopped by for drinks and appetizers before dinner one night and we loved it. Recommended by the concierge at L’Auberge, the Lounge is part of the Cypress Hotel, which is extremely dog-friendly. We enjoyed some wine and truffle fries on the patio on a beautiful evening. We loved that almost every table on the patio had a dog at it. It was such fun!
- Scheid Vineyards: We couldn’t go to Carmel and not visit a few of the tasting rooms! Many of the places are dog-friendly (especially if you have a smaller dog). Nellie was welcomed with open arms at Scheid Vineyards, which was recommend by the concierge. We really loved the wine here.
- Dawn’s Dream Winery: We ended up walking into Dawn’s Dream Winery on a whim. We were walking back from Scheid and I thought it looked cute from the outside, so we decided to check it out. When we asked if it was dog-friendly, they laughed a bit and said that they absolutely love dogs. They immediately gave Nellie some treats and water, which she greatly enjoyed. We had the best time here and even got to meet Dawn herself! What I really loved about this winery though, is that essentially you are “drinking for charity.” A percentage of every bill goes directly to Rising International, which is a non-profit that helps women nationally and globally rise from extreme poverty. Dawn also donates a lot of her profits to several other charities. You can read more about them here. I highly recommend stopping by if you are in the area!
Other Dog-Friendly Options
- Forge In the Forest
- Village Corner Bistro
- Lafayette Kitchen & Cafe
- da Giovanni
- Grasing’s Bar
- La Balena Cucina Toscana
- The Carmel Coffee House and Roasting Company
What We Did
Go to the beach: Upon arriving at L’Auberge Carmel, we were told that the beach was just a few blocks away and that it was totally dog-friendly—no leashes required! After the car ride from San Francisco, it was great to get Nellie down to the beach and let her run around. It was truly a gorgeous day. Chris and I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was—and how fine the sand was! We also ended up seeing a few porpoises from the beach, which was pretty cool.
Walk around town/shop: I wish we had more time to wander around town because it is so cute and charming. We made the most of our time walking from restaurants and tastings, though, and loved looking at all the shops! We didn’t do any shopping, except I bought a Carmel sweatshirt, which came in handy when we drove down the coast with the top of the Wrangler down!
Wine Tasting: There are a bunch of tasting rooms in town, and as I mentioned before, many of them are dog-friendly. We definitely want to visit some more tasting rooms when we go back.
Head down the coast to Big Sur/Bixby Creek: If you are visiting Carmel, chances are have a vehicle that you can get around in! We decided to take a part of a day to drive down to the Bixby Creek Bridge, which was absolutely stunning. It was such a gorgeous day to drive along the coast. There were a bunch of places to stop and get out, take pictures and go on the beach.