First time travel with the mutt to Monterey and beyond.
When I was young our pets stayed in the kitchen. Our poodles and terriers always knew their place–at the bottom of the family hierarchy. Over the years pet trends have changed significantly as Fido has gone from the kitchen to the living room, to the bedroom, to the car, and to hotel rooms. For passionate dog lovers, like us, it’s part of the fun to take the pup along on weekend trips to the ocean or the mountains.
Our first trip overnight with Maggie, our 18-pound poodle-mix, rescue dog, was easier and more fun than we imagined. I worried about the logistics and her behavior, but all my anxiety was unfounded. And who could say “no” to those big brown eyes, her tilted head and wagging tail?
The art of successfully traveling with a dog requires a game plan.
Start Smart. Select your first get-away carefully. Certain locales are more dog friendly than others and the accommodation you choose can make or break the experience. Monterey is an ideal destination for the whole family, including pup, for places to stay, eat, hike, swim and play.
Choose Pet-friendly accommodations. Although there are numerous hotels, bed and breakfast inns, and cabins that welcome pets in the Monterey and Carmel area, I preferred to stay outside of town at a resort with space and trails for dog walking as well as a spa, pools, golf course, tennis and outdoor dining. The Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel & Spa on Del Monte Golf Course fit all our requirements. Maggie was welcomed to the hotel with a bag of “Pet-a-Four” dog treats, a dog bed and a water bowl in the suite.
We lounged with our furry friend by the fireplace in the lobby reading the morning paper. With Maggie on my lap, we sipped Pinot, sampled cheeses and watched the sunset and golfers on the Pebble Beach Company’s Championship Del Monte Golf Course.
After dark we joined another family with their dog and children by the open fire in the gazebo where the kids coasted marshmallows for smores. An outdoor dining area was perfect for lunch as Maggie settled into the shade beneath the table. With doggie in tow we explored the jogging, biking, walking and pet trails on the large property.
Pamper yourself too. If you think our getaway was all about “the Princess”, Maggie, au contraire. During the weekend we had massages at the spa, enjoyed the two pools, the Jacuzzi and superb dinning.
Do your research. Before we left I downloaded a list of beaches in the area where leashed dogs are allowed. Check out www.Dogtrekkers.com, a helpful website for pet-lovers in Northern California.
Find the best beaches and trails for pets. We laced up our hiking boots, put water, chocolate and doggie treats in the backpack and hiked well-marked trails above the rocky shores and pounding surf at Garrapta State Park, along Highway 1, seven miles south of Carmel. Grey whales often pass close by during their January-March migration. At Garrapta Beach, part of the state park, painters and photographers hang out as they capture the dramatic seascapes along the two-mile beach.
Additional beaches where leashed dogs are permitted are: Monterey State Beach from Wharf #2 to Seaside State Beach, Asilomar State Beach, Carmel River State Beach and paved or developed areas of Monterey District state beaches and parks.
Select pet-friendly dining establishments. Here’s a “A Pet Friendly Dining List” courtesy of the Concierge Department at the Hyatt Regency that suggests where to dine outdoors in Carmel by the Sea: Da Giovanni, Grasings, Casanova, Le Coq D’Or, The Forge in the Forest, Carmel Bistro, Jack London’s, Christopher’s, Porta Bella and Nico’s.
Enjoy an afternoon or night on the town without your furry friend. For a special celebration or just a fine dining experience, indulge yourself for dinner at sunset, with one of the finest views along the coast, at the Pacific Edge Restaurant, located at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands. Where else can you splurge on locally-farmed abalone and seared fois gras while watching the fog roll in over the Pacific?
While you’re visiting the Monterey/Carmel area check out what’s new at the aquarium. The million-gallon Outer Bay Exhibit is always changing as the aquarists add new species. See the Jellies Exhibit where they dance, sting, glow and bloom. Meander through four multimedia galleries to see more than 15 species of seahorses — one of the nation’s largest collections of these charismatic animals. Discover how these shy and secretive animals grow up, attract mates and give birth—this is the only family in the animal kingdom in which the males get pregnant.
Our first getaway with Maggie was easy and fun for all. And we met lots of fellow dog lovers along the way.