This past weekend, my husband and I traveled to Carmel-by-the-sea for the first time and it was every bit of a real-life fairytale! The small village was straight out of a storybook with quaint cottage-lined streets, stunningly gorgeous secret passage ways and flowers blooming as far as the eye can see. Not only is the town picturesque, but it’s surrounded by the most beautiful beach and forest landscapes making it truly a unique gem in California. Read on to get a first-hand glimpse into our 48 hour trip with an in-depth Carmel Travel Guide including things to do, places to eat along with the cutest pink hotel.
Exploring the Town
Carmel reminds me of the village from Beauty in the Beast. I seriously could have taken a year’s worth of outfit photos here because every single inch is just gorgeous! It only covers one square mile making it very walkable. Our hotel was located near the heart of downtown so it was very easy to get out and explore. Early Saturday morning, we went for a walk with no particular destination in mind and ended up covering half of downtown. During our excursion, we came across various “secret” passage ways, unique shops and beautiful landscaping. We even bought some sweet treats! Carmel really is a dream! All of the buildings are unique and have a worldly European charm about them. I cannot even put into words how beautiful this little village is.
After exploring the downtown portion, we grabbed lunch from 5th Ave Deli and headed to the beach for a picnic. It was surprisingly uncrowded and the weather was perfect which made for a very relaxing time. I was surprised at how fine and white the sand (plus it wasn’t scorching hot like Southern California beaches). The water eencompassed various shades of blue and was reminiscent of something you’d see in a far off island getaway. There were SO many wildflowers…literally rainbow hues of flowers everywhere you look. I have never seen so many different species of flora in one place before – it was the most incredible thing. Another thing I noticed was that the entire area (town, beach, outlying areas) was spotless – no litter anywhere. Even in the short amount of time that we were there, you can definitely tell that the residents definitely care for and take pride in their town.
Pebble Beach has been on my bucket list since I can remember. No, I don’t play golf lol… but I’ve just always thought it looked so beautiful and I can honestly say that it exceeded my expectations tenfold. The Pebble Beach area is not just a golf course, but rather a place where community, history and scenic landscaping come together. We explored the incredible California coastline (which is very different than it’s southern counterpart) and stopped at various points to take in the sights and learn the history behind each one.
Point Lobos was another must-see for us and it definitely didn’t disappoint. We are avid hikers and I was so excited to be able to explore more of the area by foot. Since we saw this on the way back home, we only stayed for a couple of hours and completed two hikes but honestly, you could spend all day there seeing it all. The first hike took us through a Cypress tree grove and ultimately ended with a beautiful view over the ocean. The second hike took us to China Cove where we finally saw sea otters among the most stunning landscape. Both of these hikes were very easy and relatively flat… in fact, I completed both in a dress (paired with hiking shoes, of course!).
There is a cute shopping center in Carmel that has a few upscale stores including my two faves, Anthropologie and Kate Spade. The Kate Spade store was a bit small but had a great selection. The Anthropolgie store, however, was MASSIVE and had the most interesting layout (it was like a V shape). I seriously could have spent hours in there… thankfully, my husband was there to reign me in haha 😉 Aside from the shopping center, the town is full of unique shops with pretty much everything you can think along with a few specialty stores.
Where to Eat
5th Ave. Deli – this was my husband favorite! It’s much more than a deli… don’t let the name fool you. We were met with so many incredible smells when we walked in and they have a wide variety of affordable food options available. Our breakfast burritos were the absolute best! Also loved that they had an array of beautiful picnic baskets available for a beach picnic 🙂
Lugano’s Swiss Bistro – located in the Barnyard. Really loved the authentic Swiss decor (it reminded me of our time in the Swiss Alps a couple of years ago). We also tried fondue for the first time! It was such a cool experience!
From Scratch – also located in the Barnyard. Everything was made from scratch and the food selection can’t be beat (there’s really something for everyone). Very cool vibe and our brunch was delicious!
Hogsbreath Inn – located just steps from our hotel. Clint Eastwood used to own this place and we are big fans so of course, we had to stop in. While a bit pricey, the food was amazing and I loved the outdoor atmosphere!
Mission Ranch – we didn’t actually get to eat here since we were craving burgers and they were only serving the brunch buffet, but the location is out of this world gorgeous! It’s located in an old barn overlooking a pasture and ocean and is own by Clint Eastwood. The buffet looked amazinggg and this will be at the top of our list for our next trip.
Lulu’s – this adorable chocolate shop was another fave! They hand make all of their chocolate, which is delicious by the way, and the owner is just the sweetest!!
Pieces of Heaven – another chocolate shop. They had everythinggg! I got a chocolate covered area and dark chocolate truffle and they were both to die for!
Where to Stay
We stayed at the adorable Hofsas House! It’s pretty pink, European exterior and unique one-of-a-kind rooms ar what dreams are made of. Plus it’s close to everything and the entire property is surrounded by the most gorgeous flowers! I’ll be doing a more in depth post on my stay shortly so stay tuned!
Other Things to Note
The weather was the only thing that was a bit crazy. It was cool 59 – 62 degrees at the highest so there were points when I was cold and points when I was warm. It ended up being totally different than what I thought it would be and continuously changing throughout the day (I thought it would be cloudy and it ended up being sunny ha!) Definitely not a bad thing at all, but just something to be aware of.
What to Wear
This depends on the weather and the time of the year, but I would recommend bringing layers. I brought a variety of dresses, a pair of jeans, a light sweater, a breathable long sleeve top, and a light coat. I did plan to bring a heavier coat (I forgot it at home haha) but the light one was fine with all the walking we did. I would also recommend a good pair of walking shoes: flats are fine for walking around town or for exploring Pebble Beach, but I would recommend a good pair of shoes with tread for hiking. Although the hiking is not super intense, the terrain can be a bit rocky at times. I do not recommend heels for walking around town though as the streets are hilly and the pavement is uneven and cracked in parts due to tree roots. I also recommend a hat and a pair of sunglasses!
- You are not supposed to wear high heels over a certain height, although you can get a permit from City Hall at no charge.
- Clint Eastwood used to be mayor.
- There are no addresses, just house names and cross street references. They didn’t want to become “citified” 🙂
- It’s very, very dog-friendly!
- There are no chain restaurants but instead Carmel boasts many unique, one-of-a-kind dining experiences.
Overall, we really enjoyed our trip to Carmel! To be honest, we loved it so much that we fantasized about what it would be like to live there. I’ve never felt more at home and it’s really THAT perfect. We are already planing to go back!!
What did you think of my Carmel Travel Guide?
Would you love to travel here?
Want more travel? See more of our past adventures here!