• Carmel City Beach, Monterey County. Blue-ribbon honors go to city-owned Carmel Beach, a powdery, mile-long strand that is perhaps the best-known leash-free dog beach in the country. A plus: it’s walking distance from fashionable Carmel-by-the-Sea, with its wealth of dog-friendly lodging and places to eat.
An hour or so south, on the Big Sur Coast, beautiful Pfeiffer Beach beckons with pink sand, towering sea stacks and iconic caves, arches and other rock formations. Dogs in the past were allowed to run free on the portion of the beach managed by the U.S. Forest Service, but signs have since been posted directing owners to keep them leashed. Feel it out when you get there; weekend days can get crowded near the entrance, but the sand stretches for miles.
There are many other beaches in Monterey County where dogs can accompany you on a leash. Asilomar State Beach and Carmel River State Beach are close to Monterey and Carmel, while Garrapata State Beach, which has no admission charge, is just down Highway 1. For more information, click here.
Photo Credit: Robert Robles (CC)