weekend guide to carmel by the sea

Folktale Winery & Vineyards

Have you ever been someplace that feels straight out of a dream? That you feel you could return to over & over again – even doing the EXACT same things and be happy? Carmel is that place for me. I can’t imagine anyone not absolutely loving it here – & wanted it to be my next weekend travel guide — hoping that you’ll all plan a visit in 2020!

Carmel by the Sea is a small beach town on the Monterrey peninsula – it’s slow paced, famous for it’s galleries, dog beach & the Carmel Mission. It’s truly a little peace of heaven – if your into wandering, eating, shopping, WINE – it’s an absolute must. Not to mention the fairy like cottages & beautiful homes throughout the city.

Carmel Beach

Getting there: We typically fly into San Jose – Carmel is about 1.5 hours from San Jose, & it’s the most beautiful drive along the coastal HWY 1. A few stops worth making along the way – Santa Cruz, Capitola & Monterrey. It’s easily accessible from San Francisco too if your wanting to make a longer trip. Check out my travel guide for SF here.

Where to stay: My two favorite affordable lodging options – if your wanting to be away from it all, but less than a 10 minute drive from Ocean Ave – Quail Lodge in Carmel Valley is so perfect! It sits on 850 acres of some of the most beautiful valley & golf course. Be sure to dine at Edgar’s – the herb crusted salmon is my favorite. Second, if your wanting to be right in town – walking distance to the beach, shops and restaurants – the Candlelight Inn is probably one of top five favorite accommodations, ever. Recently remodeled – gorgeous rooms, big bathtubs and fireplaces & my favorite part, each morning they leave a small cooler bag with fresh fruit, muffins & pastries and yogurt in front of your door – without disturbing you. There’s also a great outdoor fireplace and seating in front to wind down with a glass of wine after wandering. Regardless, you can’t go wrong with either choice. If your looking to splurge – we haven’t stayed here yet, but it’s totally on my bucket list – & just outside of Carmel by the Sea in Big Sur. And another bucket lister too – this iconic hotel, co-owned by Doris Day.

Must do’s & must eats: Honestly, my favorite part about Carmel is how low key we typically keep our weekend there. It’s so relaxing! But there are a few things that are worth setting time aside for.

The Carmel Mission, founded in 1797 is such a beautiful piece of history – & worth spending some time exploring. We visited just last month and got such a gorgeous glimpse of the rare fall colors!

Stroll along Carmel Beach, if your like us – preferably with a coffee & pastry in hand from Carmel Valley Coffee – (if your a dog lover, this is heaven! If you aren’t – just a warning, this is an off leash dog friendly beach). Walk, bike or drive – the 17 Mile Drive along Pebble Beach. My favorite stops along the drive – Spanish Bay Beach – a great spot with picnic tables & wooden board walks, Fanshell Beach (pictured below) – get out of your car and spend some time here, some of the most beautiful coastline in the world!, & the Lone Cypress. Make sure to stop at the Pebble Beach Visitor Center too to check out some awesome golf history.

During our weekend last month we visited Folktale Winery & Vineyards for the first time ever – and it absolutely won’t be our last! We’re already planning a visit back next summer you guys, this place. So beautiful. Some of the best local wine & great food. We spent the afternoon taking the vineyard tour (book in advance!), wine tasting and having an early dinner. I can’t say enough how much we both enjoyed this.

Folktale Winery & Vineyards

Drive down through Big Sur – pull over like every FIVE minutes and take in the views. Make sure to stop at Bixby Bridge for a photo op – (hello my fellow Big Little Lies fans!). This entire area & coastline is literal heaven. I could write an entire post on just HERE, hmmm – maybe I should?

A few favorite places to eat. Food – it’s always the most important part of my wanderings. La Bicyclette, Little Napoli – get the eggplant parm, you won’t regret it; and Katy’s Place for breakfast. Carmel is full of little shops and restaurants – we haven’t been disappointed yet!

& saving one of my favorite parts of this town for last, Carmel is full of secret passageways & tunnels, leading to some of the most charming little courtyards and shops. Read here for an in depth guide on where to stop & wander.

Happy wandering readers. I hope this gets you kick started on planning your trip to Carmel by the Sea. I’d LOVE to hear if you make it there! Xoxo.

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