I’m taking you to a special place. It’s a village, in the forest, nestled by the sea. It’s a place that allows you step away from the everyday hustle and truly take a deep breath – one full of fresh salty air. We’re headed to the west coast, northern California to be specific. Have you guessed where it could be?
Well, if my title did not already give it away, I’m taking you to the Monterey Peninsula, and specifically today, Carmel By The Sea. The name alone is pretty enchanting don’t you think? And enchanting is exactly the word I would use to describe this quaint village. As you drive into town, winding through the hills, you see lush greenery all around you and smell the salt water in the air. Almost immediately it puts you in a calm state of mind. It’s a German town, and if you know anything about German’s they like to keep things pristine, so it’s needless to say, this town is immaculate. Impeccably clean, gorgeous landscaping and homes that look straight out of your favorite fairytales. (I’m not kidding about this, it’s like stepping into Snow White or Hansel & Gretel – without the tragedy.)
I was in the area for four nights, and spent two of those in Carmel By The Sea (more to come on the rest of this vacation later this week). My first impression of the town was heavenly, as the first stop I made was to check into my hotel, The Hofsas House. You likely already know how much I love a good pink hotel , so driving up to this pink Bavarian beauty was love at first sight. I got to sit down with the owner of the hotel and learn all about the property (it’s been in her family since the beginning, back in ) and the beautiful village of Carmel. What better way to start a trip than getting insight from someone who has spent their whole life in that place. After my great little history lesson, I went to my room, which can be best described as “bed and breakfast chic.” It had ocean views 9which I could see from my half open dutch door), and even better, there was wine and cheese waiting in the kitchenette. Plus, there was lots of great info about Carmel as well as maps to make exploring easier. I would say this first leg of the vacation was off to a great start!
One thing I like to do when I get to a new place is get out on foot and explore. Usually the best way to do this is on foot as you can cover ground you would never be able to by car, and thankfully Carmel makes this incredibly easy. Everything you could possibly need falls within about a 15 block radius, even the beach. There are over 50 restaurants, none of which are chains, countless boutiques, at least a dozen wine tasting rooms and gorgeous art galleries. I walked all over this sleepy town, and could feel the stress just melt off of me. I have to admit, I only say “sleepy town” as it’s not a place you really go to stay out late. Most shops close by 5 or 6pm and the restaurants follow suit several hours later, most closing by 10pm. It was a bit of a shock to find this out upon arriving, especially coming from a big city, but then it dawned on me, it’s the perfect excuse to rest and recharge. A big initiative in Carmel is to be Mindful By The Sea, and this really helps with that.
My pictures probably speak for themselves, since this place is just gorgeous, but below I have highlighted my ‘must-sees’ for Carmel By The Sea. If you will be making your way to this part of California, you would be crazy to not spend time in this beautiful area. As I spoke with the owner of The Hofsas House, she said “oh, you’ve never been here, well you can count on coming back, you will fall in love with this place.” She could not have been more right! I am smitten with Carmel and already have a list of things I am anxious to try on my next visit!
- Paloosh -Great designer pieces.
- Kate Spade – If there is a Kate Spade in town you better believe I will find it!
- The Secret Garden – Perfect for unique gifts and a little peace and quiet.
- Scheid Vineyards – It’s a taste rooming, but you can buy wine, so it’s technically a shop. They own 11 estate vineyards along a 70 mile spread in the Salinas Valley, and produce so many yummy wines.
- Silvestri Vineyards – Another tasting room, but this one is owned by a famous movie composer. You never know the stories you might hear in here.
- Bistro Giovanni -The best gluten free pasta I have ever had!
- Lugano Swiss Bistro – Who doesn’t love fondue?!
- 5th Avenue Deli – Perfect place to grab a picnic lunch before heading off for some sightseeing or hiking.
- Seventh & Dolores – Great place to have a couple cocktails and chat with the locals
- Hike at Point Lobos
- Drive south along PCH 1 to Big Sure
- See the redwood trees at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
- Take the 17 mile drive through Pebble Beach
- Stop for a drink on the 18th hole (Pebble Beach) at The Bench
- Go whale watching in Monterey
- Take a walk along the beach
- Carmel Mission Basilica
- Refuge Day Spa
- The Hofsas House – It’s in prime location and is perfectly charming. It will make you fall in love with Carmel as well!
- Fun Facts
- There are no street addresses in Carmel! In order to avoid becoming “citified” they use a central post office for all mail delivery. Homes typically have names, and places are found by pointing out streets and other landmarks. They also have no parking meters or street lights.
- Clint Eastwood is the former Mayor and still resides nearby. He was instrumental in making a lot of great changes to Carmel, such as bridging a gap between community and business.
- Doris Day is a long-time resident. She is a huge dog lover and a big reason why Carmel is now one of the best places to vacation with a furry friend.
- Permits are required to wear high heels. Yes, you read that right. There is a municipal code banning heels higher than 2 inches, to avoid people tripping over things such as tree roots. While permits are available at City Hall, the police don’t cite people for violations.
Stay tuned for more on my time in the Monterey Peninsula later this week. I’ll be sharing with you an epic drive along the coast through Big Sur and around Pebble Beach, as well time in the city of Monterey.
Signed with Style,