If you're on the hunt for the perfect weekend away, Carmel-by-the-Sea is your girl. It is a beautiful mash-up of quaint coastal town in California, meets foodie delights, wine country neighbors and views galore. Tag along with Emily March as she spills her favorite spots for eating, siping, adventuring and resting in this sweet spot nestled between Big Sur and Monterey.
From Emily... There are thousands of quant coastal towns, but I'm not sure any have quite the same charm as Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. I've been a few times in different seasons and temperatures, so I can this definitively: this is my favorite place in California! Whether you're a foodie, wine-lover, photographer or adventurer, you'll find something to love about this little town nestled between Big Sur and Monterrey.
What to Eat
For the foodie, restaurants abound throughout the tiny streets of downtown. Stop for drinks and fish tacos at Hog's Breath Inn's hidden pack patio. Grab a seat by one the outdoor fireplaces and enjoy their succulent-filled gardens. Dinner at PortaBella or Dametra Cafe won't disappoint and are certain to include a visit by the restaurants' incredibly kind owner. For a sweet treat, grab some candy at the way too cute Cottage of Sweets. From house-made fudge to old school confectionaries, you'll find something for every sweet tooth. For a truly exceptional experience, though, you'll need to head south on Highway 1 to Rocky Point Restaurant. Perfect for a sunny afternoon, sip on champagne and work your way through their appetizers while you take in view of the incredible coastline and famous Bixby Bridge.
What to Sip
If you're a California wine-lover, a visit to nearby Carmel Valley is a must. Only a 20-minute drive, wine country is an easy day trip. Numerous vineyards and tasting rooms dot the winding road - there are almost too many to choose from! My hands down favorite is Folktale Vineyard and Winery. With fairy tale charm and a fantastic wine list, Folktale is a must stop.
Sit at the 20-foot banquet table in the sunroom, the cozy couch by the fireplace or out on the patio where you can play giant Jenga and enjoy the sunshine. Once you're greeted with a glass of their sparkling wine (my favorite!) dive into the rest of their tasting menu - don't forget to order the cheese and charcuterie plate too! Once you're here, you'll never want to leave, but if you manage to pry yourself away from their rosé , head over to Georis Winery just down the road for their chardonnay and Meyer Lemon pizza.
What to See
If you're someone who travels for views, then pictures-perfect Carmel is where you need to be. A quiet early morning stroll puts charming storefronts in the best light. Get lost and discover hidden pathways that lead to secret gardens. Grab a map and give yourself a walking tour of Carmel's neighborhoods, filled with fairytale-like cottages. For natural scenery, drive south to nearby Point Lobos State Park or take a drive down Highway 1 to Big Sur. Park at an overlook and explore a beach or take in stunning views of rocky cliffs diving into the Pacific Ocean.
Where to Sleep
When you're ready to call it a day, there's no better place to spend the night than at Cypress Inn. Located in the heart of downtown, Cypress Inn is perfect for pet owners and dog lovers. 100% pet friendly, your furry pal can join you for your Carmel weekend and make a few of their own friends. If you're like me and don't have a dog (yet!), Cypress Inn is the perfect cure for your puppy fever. I mean, you really can't beat a happy hour surrounded by Australian shepherds and golden retrievers, am I right?
No matter your travel style, Carmel-by-the Sea should be on your "Must Visit" list. Fair warning, though: once you're home, you'll spend at least a week trying to figure out how you can get back!