When I was 10, my family took a 3 week road trip up the coast from Los Angeles to Vancouver and we made many stops along the way. One of my favorite places was Carmel-by-the-Sea. I think I was too young to enjoy the familiar village feel, unique shops, and restaurants, but something about it resonated with me. I was more than excited to come back 20+ years later to enjoy it with Alan.
It was just as I had remembered it, but even better. Carmel is a quaint yet sophisticated European style village right on the beach. It’s incredibly walkable – you can walk to everything from your hotel within 15 minutes – and is one of the most dog friendly cities I’ve visited. The whole village is a visual feast with art galleries galore and the village has maintained it’s village feel through it’s architecture and design. As an adult, I enjoyed the wine tasting and brought Kennedy along, too.
Where to Stay
You won’t find a W or Marriott here in Carmel, but why would you even want to stay in a retail chain when there are unique and cute (yes, cute) B&Bs and Inns? We stayed at Hosfras House which is a family owned hotel in the most perfect shade of pink! Each room is uniquely decorated – ours was covered in a pretty floral wallpaper – plus it’s a dog friendly hotel. The hotel is surrounded by beautiful hydrangea flowers and there’s a beautiful view of the ocean from the top level.
Where to Eat
Alan and I had 2 delicious dinners in Carmel and would highly recommend them to any visitor. The Grill on Ocean Avenue is a warm and friendly seafood restaurant that has a great dinner menu and cocktail list. It’s a good place for a romantic dinner as the restaurant is trimmed in oak. We also tried La Bicyclette which is a rustic European restaurant with a delicious wine list and great pizzas, pastas, and dessert.
What to Do
Wine Tasting: Discover Monterey County wine tasting rooms in the Village with the Carmel Wine Talk-by-the-Sea Passport. The Passport provides tasters with a Wine Walk flight at their choice of any 9 of the 14 tasting rooms (plus it never expires if you don’t get to use all of the vouchers!) We enjoyed stopping in at the various tasting rooms as we explored the Village, plus every tasting room was within walking distance to our Hotel.
Picnic on the Beach: Alan and I picked up some delicious sandwiches and salad from 5th Avenue Deli for a picnic on the beach. Although it was overcast and a bit chilly for this LA native, we brought Kennedy along and enjoyed lunch on the beautiful white sand beach.
Shop: Carmel boasts small businesses as well as a handful of national retailers. As much as I love shopping for clothes, my favorite shop in Carmel had to be The Cheese Shop. We sampled cheese for about an hour and Alan had to drag me out of the shop. The staff was friendly, knowledgable, and let me sample all the cheese I could eat!
Art Hop: Carmel has an abundance of art galleries ranging from abstract to modern – over 100 within 1 square mile! Our favorite was Dennis Rae Fine Art – The Art of Dr. Seuss!
Bring your dog! Anytime Alan and I can bring Kennedy along for a road trip, we do. We all have a good time. Carmel is the most dog friendly city I’ve ever been to. As we walked down Ocean Drive for our morning walks to the beach, store owners would come out to offer water, treats or toys for Kennedy. He loved meeting other dogs and although didn’t enjoy the waves, he had fun at the dog friendly beach.
If time allows and if you’re coming from Southern California, definitely take the scenic drive up or down. You’d be amazed by the beautiful sights and spots along the coast as you drive up. One of the most beautiful stops along the way was in Big Sur where I snapped this picture. The road is a bit windy and will add extra hours to your drive, but there is nothing like the California coast!