No more doggie day care. No more kennels. The next time you go away, Puppy is coming with you. Start in Carmel on the gorgeous Pacific Coast. Golfers, retired celebs, and burnt-out Silicon Valley refugees aren't the only ones living high on the hog there.
CARMEL-BY-THE-SEA, California – If I return in my next life as a dog, Carmel-by-the-Sea is where you'll find me. In a town where you can get a ticket for wearing heels or dribbling ice cream on the sidewalk, canines have carte blanche in California's version of Monte Carlo.
No wonder DogFriendly.com voted it Top U.S. Resort Area to visit with dogs: Almost every resident of Carmel has a well-loved dog in tote, sometimes three, like an obligatory accessory. Stores, galleries, and restaurants boldly display "Dogs Welcome" signs. Hotels abound with pooch-centric amenities. High-end boutiques cater to furry fashion hounds. Carmel even has an official Yappy Hour and a Dog Restaurant Menu so dogs can kick back and enjoy treats alongside their owners.
WHERE TO STAY
Cypress Inn, owned by animal lover/actress Doris Day, is Club Med for canines. Doggie blankets, beds, bowls, treats, pet sitters, and Sadie, the Canine Concierge, ensure pets lap in luxury. As part of the evening turn-down service, owners get chocolate and dogs get biscuits. After a romp on the town, mutt mitts and a dog wash area are available. Cypress Inn is also home to the famous Yappy Hour from 4:30 - 6 p.m. You may see a few bar brawls in the way of barks and nips, but it's a great way to connect with other canophiles.
The other best in show hotels are Carmel Country Inn and Carmel Forest Eco-Lodge.
WHERE TO PLAY
Rugged: On most beaches throughout the United States, dogs are poo-pooed. Not in Carmel-by-the-Sea. Dogs can rough-house, swim, and run leash-free on the picturesque mile-long beach.
Refined: Carmel has a new four-block Wine Walk, where owners can sip at local wine tasting rooms while their four-legged companions snack on gourmet treats. The best stops on Carmel's wine tasting walk are Wrath Wines, Figge Cellars (located in Winfield Gallery), and Galante Vineyards, Carmel's oldest winery.
Religious: If your friend has been a bit of a bitch lately, take her for some mindful meditation at Church of Wayfarer, which welcomes visitors of all faiths and breeds. Great photo op: Perch your pet on a pew in front of the ornate stained glass windows.
WHERE TO EAT
A local favorite for humans and dogs, The Forge in the Forest has a Dog Pound menu with epicurean delights like the Hot Diggity Dog, a Quarter Hounder, or for a finicky Fido, a bowl of kibble.
When a lowly bowl won't do, Italian restaurant PortaBella serves water in a champagne bucket.
Carmel's other dog-dining options include Casanova, Grasing's (co-owned by renowned food critic Narsai David), Anton & Michel, and Bistro Beaujolais.
WHERE TO SHOP
Diggidy Dog boutique and bakery specializes in all things canine and feline, including pet strollers, designer collars, and Little Dog baked goods.
Tightly wound pets can de-stress at Signature Paw Spa with services like massage, glitter fur coloring, and paw-dicures. Get your calm on simultaneously across the street at Signature Day Spa.
Something bespoke? Local artist Gerrica Connolly can paint a portrait of your dog.
When shopping at Carmel Plaza downtown, look for the Fountain of Woof, where the "dogs only" drinking policy is strictly enforced.
LOCAL COLOR AND KIBBLES & BITS
Poodle Day: Every fall, the city hosts a parade, beach games, and a cocktail hour honoring the prestigious breed.
See the locations in this story. (GoogleMaps)