Every year on my birthday, I like to do a short weekend getaway to somewhere nearby. We don’t go far so we don’t have to take more than 1 or 2 days off work. But we go far enough so that we don’t have to think about work and can have some time to enjoy and relax.
Last year we went north up to Napa, and it was the first time we took QQ on a trip. We had a wonderful time. And this year, we decided to go south down to Carmel, and we have a new addition to our family, Chyler.
The first place we visited was Lovers Point Park in Pacific Grove.
This is a beautiful park with gorgeous views of the Pacific. We visited on a Saturday on a sunny day and it was extremely crowded. That didn’t detract from how awesome it was. There was carpets of wildflowers backed against the blue, blue sea.
We spent quite some time walking up and down the coast, and also sat on a bench to do some reading. The only sad thing was we didn’t bring the dogs down to the beach because there were so many people on the beach, and QQ was quite forlorn when he looked down at the sandy beach he could not run on.
This was quickly rectified the next day when we visited Garrapata State Park for a day of hiking and beach fun. But before we set off for a day of fun activities, we fueled up with a heavy breakfast at Bistro 211, a lovely restaurant with patio seating and a doghouse menu!
We didn’t actually buy anything from the doghouse menu because QQ and Chyler already had breakfast and also, they are on a raw diet. But it’s too cute not to take a photo.
Garrapata State Park is a big park with coastal trails and a 2 mile beach. It’s not very crowded and we didn’t come across many people. The coastal views are breathtaking.
It’s not an off leash park, so we kept QQ and Chyler on a leash most of the time. But when we climbed down to the beaches that are not easily accessible, we allowed QQ and Chyler off leash. Mostly because we needed both hands to climb up and down the rocky cliffs, and also because the beach had nobody else around that QQ and Chyler can disturb, excepting a couple of lone fishermen.
Because it was our first time at the park, we didn’t know where the “2 mile beach” was. So when we asked some people we met on the trail if the trail leads to the beach, and they said “Yes, it’s a little steep, but it does lead to the beach”, we took that it meant the 2 mile beach. As it turns out, the 2 mile beach is easily accessed with a wooden staircase if we drove a little more down the road. The beaches that we had to use both hands and feet to climb down to is not 2 miles. It’s barely half a mile in length. But it’s still beautiful.
And we had it all to ourselves, so QQ and Chyler had a blast.
We still made it to the 2 mile beach later in the day. It was more crowded and we couldn’t really let the doggies off leash. We returned the next morning where there was barely a soul and we did allow the dogs off leash for a quick morning run.
The highlight of the park is a ravine filled with wild Calla Lilies, accessible from the beach, and the main reason we returned the next day, so as to see in in all its glory.
There are no words for the beauty.
Carmel is well known for being dog friendly. On the third day, we visited the little town with its storybook cottages.
We ate at Porta Bella, a restaurant housed in one of those story book like cottages. It was so dog friendly, it even allowed us to walk QQ and Chyler through the restaurant to reach the dog friendly back patio.
And the definite gem of the town must be the long off leash Carmel beach, within walking distance of Carmel downtown. A haven for the dogs to run and play. Sadly, QQ wasn’t the most well-behaved when we visited the beach, so we only allowed him off leash sporadically. But we did walk about half the length of the beach and sat down to enjoy some reading.
However, we visited Mission Trails Park later that day and QQ was very well behaved, so he was allowed off leash together with Chyler for the entire loop trail.
Mission Trail Parks kept to the story book theme of Carmel with the pretty wildflowers lining the trails. It felt a little like the woods in fairy tales. The trails are mostly flat and consist of interlocking loops. There are varying entry points though, and a couple of close to the road so it’s a good idea to keep a watch on the dogs when near an entry point. We spent about an hour plus walking the wide loop and barely saw a soul.
On our last day, we visited Asilomar Beach, yet another off leash beach. We went in the morning and there wasn’t really anyone around. QQ and Chyler spent about an hour running on the beach before we started off on the drive home.
All in all, we really enjoyed Carmel, with the multitude of off leash beaches and beautiful hiking trails. It was a wonderful getaway!